February 21st, 1965 my God Father (in my head) was assassinated at the Audubon Ballroom in Harlem.
As a rule, we here at CREAD tend not to recognize our heroes deaths/murders, but rather their birth and their lives. Aaaaaaaand we see Black History Month as a time to celebrate our history and culture and not mourn the lose of those we love.
But there’s always an exception to the rule right? And this exception is for the anniversary of Malcolm X’s assassination.
Two years ago, on the 50th anniversary of his assassination CNN led an investigation on what really led to his murder.
“At the time of his death, Time magazine remembered Malcolm X unsympathetically as “a pimp, a cocaine addict and a thief” and “an unashamed demagogue.” But for those who had been paying closer attention to him, Malcolm X was an uncompromising advocate for the urban poor and working-class black America. Instead of advocating integration, he called for self-determination; instead of nonviolence in the face of violent anti-black attacks, he called for self-defense. He reserved moral appeals for other people committed to social justice; the government, on the other hand, he understood in terms of organized power — to be challenged, disrupted and/or dismantled — and sought to leverage alliances with newly independent African states to challenge that power.”
James Baldwin’s Film, I Am Not Your Negro, tells of Baldwin’s experiences dealing with the murders of Medgar Evers, Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. In the film Baldwin talks about how intimidated he was when X sat and listened to one of his lectures. He then talked about the sense of humor and seriousness of X. Yall should really go watch it. ASAP.
So, why am I talking about Malcolm X a week before the anniversary of his murder?
I want us to celebrate him! Celebrate his life and his legacy. I want us to learn from him. I want us to see him in the faces of our little Black boys who sit in our classrooms. I want us to fall in love, again (or maybe for the first time) with X.
We will celebrate President’s day on Monday, February 2oth and honestly, the only President, I celebrate is Obama because both Lincoln and Washington who are born in February had a deep disdain, dare I say hatred or fear for African people. And though Lincoln is seen as the Great Emancipator, he wanted to remove all Blacks from America once they were free. He ain’t no hero to me.
But back to X.
My hope is, that before we go on either a one day or week long break, depending on your State’s school calendar, that we take the time to honor el-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz. X, who has left us so many speeches on which we can build lessons, units and curriculum. One of my favorite texts, that I have used to have students take a critical look at the standards of beauty Black people have adopted and or rejected, is his stirring speech asking;
Who taught you to hate yourself?
“Who taught you to hate the color of your skin? Who taught you to hate the texture of your hair? Who taught you to hate the shape of your nose and the shape of your lips? Who taught you to hate yourself from the top of your head to the soles of your feet? Who taught you to hate your own kind? Who taught you to hate the race that you belong to so much so that you don’t want to be around each other? You know. Before you come asking Mr. Muhammad does he teach hate, you should ask yourself who taught you to hate being what God made you.”
Positive Racial Identity Development through Education (PRIDE) for Black kids requires us to have positive representations of Blackness in our classrooms, in our curriculum, and in our actions. Luckily, yesterday Huff Post put us on to a new website that dropped, Black Love Power, which aims to provide the interwebs with positive and varied representations of Black Love.
As we continue to celebrate Black History after February ends, it is my hope that we remember that children of the African Diaspora require positive representations of themselves in order to dismantle the ways they have been taught to hate themselves. Because as Brother Frederick Douglass said: