Nationalism in the 21st Century

Yesterday I was watching Spike Lee’s movie “Malcolm X”, at the part where Baines suggests to Elijah Muhammad that Malcolm X is utilizing his new platform to turn himself into a leader that will eventually turn his back on both Elijah Muhammad, and what the Nation of Islam represent. Muhammad calmly tells him that Malcolm is good for the needs of the political movement at that time, yet Baines insists of ruining Malcolm’s good name. At the same time, Betty Shabazz is trying to get Malcolm to look at what is going on behind the scenes, while Malcolm defends Elijah’s honor, the same way I’m sure most Catholics did upon first hearing of their priest’s indiscretion towards the church through their pursuit of relationships with underage choir boys.

Yet Malcolm is disillusioned, first upon the realization that the man he had placed on a spiritual pedestal does sin, and in a major way, and then yet again when his pilgrimage to Mecca shows him that the political aspirations of the Nation aren’t consistent with the original teachings of Islam. Becoming a martyr upon pursuing the truth in your original teachings is as old as time, yet the message sent home when it is Malcolm’s former peers that assassinates him, rather than the American government or hate groups, sort of hits you personally. Of course this is no different from what is happening today, anyone who thinks differently should ask Bill Cosby or Louis Farrakhan, both of which continue to illuminate the ugly truths about what it is that the African-American community should do to empower themselves.

Malcolm had preached that (Elijah) Muhammad’s teachings weren’t about blacks hating whites, as much as it was about African-Americans reclaiming what was rightfully there’s, yet it was African-Americans, who wanted to protect their own ideological believes, ideas that were rather conservative from the new wave of compassion that Malcolm had embraced, who killed Malcolm X. Movies like Barbershop 2 suggest that the little guys had as much to contribute to the movement as Rosa Parks, yet the NAACP defends their revisionist history, even at the cost of the realization of the truth, one desperately needed by ordinary African-American’s who aren’t lawyers and aren’t organized or motivated politically the way that they were at the time.

It was overly important that we had icons to look towards, when considering how we got where we were at a race in the 1980s twenty years ago, when the government declared Martin’s birthday a national holiday and we the month of February was declared black history month. Yet these days, despite the fact that I watched Jessie speak at an unknown church, which was a major event growing up, I rarely do anything to celebrate my own political independence from being three fifths of a person, or a man without a soul. No, instead I flip the channel and see what is going on elsewhere in the free world, just to see how Marxist ideas continue to suppress the free thought of citizens in other nations. These aren’t times for discussions over what would happen if Malcolm met and discussed ideas with Martin, when the reality about what happens when uncompromising, intolerant African-Americans come up against those that are overly assimilated can be seen every day. It isn’t how you represent yourself as an African-American in front of Caucasians that is important, than it is why you consider yourself to be an African-American to begin with. Do you really take into consideration the possibilities, of an ongoing dialogue with other Africans, learning from and taking and exchanging cultures with or are you consumed with the fact that you’ve narrowly escaped racism?

We need to look back to know where we’re going but we have to let go of the past and learn to bend and become somewhat pliable if we have any chance of moving ahead in the future. What I’ve learned over the last 15 years, if anything, is that a good attitude and encouraging optimism is the first step towards a healthy and prosperous life. I’ll never forget our past, and the struggles that we’ve overcome simply surviving and trying to get ahead in this country, but I’ll use those lessons to make myself an even better individual in the future.

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