A chicken can't produce a duck egg. It has not the means nor the system within to produce a duck egg. In the same way the capitalist system cannot produce freedom for a black man. It has not the means within to produce freedom, it has not the educational means, the political means, the legislative means. And if a chicken was to produce a duck egg, it would be considered a revolutionary chicken.
Malcolm X (El Hajj Malik Shabazz)
Of imperial dreams and dead men, all that remained was long grass.
Richard Flanagan, The Narrow Road to the Deep North
Malcolm loved us so much. He loved with so much of his being. Those looking at him from afar, thought he was mad, the devil himself. Angry, the Ledger said of him. Look: that armed raised, hand with finger point forward and up, his teeth biting on his lower lip. We say: Malcolm was serious!
He loved us so much. He studied. Not just anything because he came to understand that he could not go on just absorbing anything and everything particularly created to blunt his growth as a human being and ultimately crush him within the Iron Heel of the imperialist narrative, long before he could think about living.
It's got to change. So he changed, transformed. He came out fighting not as a punk, smooth "Red," cool "Red." The character already written. That would be too easy. I'll take risk and love myself enough to say pimping of any kind in any walk of life will not do. I will not let any narrative of oppression, violence, written by that exploitative force that does not and cannot love me, dictate who I am.
Seeking knowledge from those who came before him, those who resisted rather than let cowardice get the best of them, Malcolm would defied fear by allowing those ancestors to teach him to remember: the struggle for freedom and justice does not weaken but empowers. In the Struggle, you will come to know yourself and recognize your role as one against the tyranny of oppression. The knowledge Malcolm acquired about himself and where he came from would set him on the road to freedom, despite sitting behind iron cages of injustice. Only that knowledge would keep him free spiritually, mentally, beyond the prison gates. For the challenge was to live outside those physical gates and barbed-wired fences and not participate in the building, brick by brick, of his own prison or that of other equally in struggle with octopus-reach of the American Empire.
The Ledger had Malcolm's name on it, and the dollar amount next to it, but when Malcolm Little stopped being "Red" and declared his love for black people, he was labeled "crazy." A bounty is placed on Malcolm's head, and the government decried: The "crazy n______" has run away from the plantation!
Malcolm loved us because he knew what it is like to be despised, marginalized, and considered dangerous, a threat to the social order. He knew what it is like to be in the cross-hairs of a militarized state, armed to the teeth, international storm troopers, validating the US discourse in its need identify and kill "enemies of the state."
How much were the Uncle Toms, snitches (informers, in formal parlance) paid in "cigarette money," dessert money? How much? Did they smile at Malcolm and then kiss him? Whose idea is it that bullets should be used in place of understanding and confronting truth, in place of democracy?
Malcolm loved but he could not abide ignorance, particularly willful ignorance!
Malcolm loved us because he took it upon himself to love himself. This system we live under would not tell him to take such action. It does not tell us that today. But he is us, and we are him. We have him to remind us.
Malcolm loved us, and he will always, if we let him, speak to us as our ancestors spoke to him.