Letter to Malcolm

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Dear Hon. Min. Malcolm,

I want to start off by saying how much I admire you. We have never met each other before, that is true. In fact, I wasn’t even a thought in my father’s head when you were alive. You were murdered in 1965, and I was born in 1993, almost thirty years apart. However, though we’ve never met, through the way that you lived your life, you have inspired me in ways that you will sadly never know.

The year is 2015. Fifty years after your death. I don’t believe that this is a coincidence. In April, while I was walking down my street, I was harassed by a White police officer. The officer was searching for some suspects who had burglarized a home nearby, and assumed because of the color of my skin, that I somehow had something to do with it. They forced me to sit on the concrete and they patted me down, for about five minutes. The officer, a woman, called her partner, who came down and searched me himself. After they were finished searching me, the woman told me that she knew that I did not fit the description. I realized later that she just saw a young Black man in a suburban, White neighborhood and assumed that he did not belong there. Afterwards, they escorted me back to my house. I was deeply traumatized, and I am still traumatized, by this experience for two reasons: For one, the humiliation of having to sit on a sidewalk and getting patted down, and secondly, it awakened me to the reality that in 2015, fifty years after your death, nothing has changed; the same White supremacist, capitalist system that you dedicated every fiber of your being to destroying still exists, and has become even more entrenched than during your lifetime.

You see, I grew up in a middle-class family of African immigrants in a predominantly-White suburb. Meaning, although I did experience some forms of racism, I was largely sheltered from it. Most of my friends were White, I went to White schools, and I worked and lived alongside White people. I believed, like so many misguided Black people, that we had “arrived.” That men like you and Dr. King had defeated White supremacy and that though many of you lost your lives and freedom in battle, we had won. That America had finally accepted us. This was “confirmed” when, in 2008, we were finally able to put a Black man in the White house. My experiences of that day in April shattered that lie. You know as well as I do that when you learn the truth after believing a lie for so long, that it destroys you psychologically. It traumatizes you. For nearly two months after that I sank into depression. I withdrew from my friends and family, I started getting high more, failed my classes, I even began to seriously contemplate suicide. It was only by the grace of God that I did not kill myself.

In the midst of all of this, in Baltimore, the city where I live, there were riots over a young Black man named Freddie Gray, who was killed by police officers. I saw the age-old prejudices that Whites have towards Blacks come to the surface, even among my so-called White friends. All of these experiences “woke me up.” I began to think, not as an American because I never was one (though I was born and raised here), but as a Black man. Seeking guidance, I turned to both God and yourself.

I began to watch more of your speeches, I listened to the truth that you spoke and your words in the early 60s are still relevant today. Very little has changed since your time, Brother Malcolm. The White man, even after all of the “integration”, still refuses to regard us as equals. Not only that but we are still, as you would say, blind, deaf, and dumb. Rappers and pop artists who glamorize the ignorance that you tried to turn us away from have become role models for our youth. They are used by the Elite to mislead our youth, and to make them think that it is okay to kill each other and sell poison to our people. We value material things like gold chains and sneakers over our own lives, we gladly throw our lives away in pursuit of these things. Many of us still reject and despise our Blackness, bleaching our skin and perming our hair. If you had lived long enough to see this, I’m sure that it would break your heart.

Sure we have gained the right to vote and other “rights” that are merely symbolic, but the system is still stacked against us. Our communities are still run-down; our schools are underfunded; our ghettos are flooded with all manners of vice; the police are still able to harass, kill, and beat us simply for being Black and get off scot-free; a majority of us are still poor and unemployed; the man is still “selling us whiskey and locking us up for getting drunk”; and we’re still being exploited and misled by the “house niggas” and liberals whom you despised. We need a leader like you right now, desperately.

Many of us, including myself, are beginning to realize that you weren’t the “extremist” that they’ve have portrayed you as. You were a prophet, a beacon of the truth, who told that truth as it was and didn’t sugarcoat it for any reason. You were a Muslim, that was the truth that you arrived at in your life and I respect that. I am a Christian. Though we’re of two different religions, through the way that you followed your own religion, you have inspired me to live a righteous life and to stand for truth and justice. Though I am far from perfect, your words give me the strength to grow and walk in the light.

I just finished reading your autobiography. What the man did to your family was horrible. You had every right to grow up hating him and seeing him as the devil. Though I have nothing against White people, how they, as a collective, have treated our people throughout history is terrible. You understood this and you told us to come together, to learn our history, to turn away from ignorance, to defend ourselves, to stop sitting down and start standing up, and like the fools that we were, and are, we didn’t listen. Maybe it is too late for us, I don’t know, but I digress.

Sadly, for obvious reasons, you will never read this letter. However, if I was alive during your time, I would find a way to give you this letter. In fact, I would be fighting right alongside you. Like you, I see things for what they are. You are my hero and my inspiration. I am currently in college, preparing for tomorrow like you told us to. If I have a son, best believe his name will be Malcolm Xavier. I promise to become something that you would admire and respect. Rest in power, Mr. Shabazz, until we finally meet.

-GG

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