The history which bears and determines us has the form of war rather than that of a language: relations of power, not relations of meaning. --Michel Foucault
We're not up against people because they're white. But we're against those who practice racism. We're against those who drop bombs on people because their color happens to be of a different shade than yours. And because we're against it, the press says we're violent. We're not for violence. We're for peace. But the people that we're up against are for violence. You can't be peaceful when you're dealing with them. --Malcolm X
May 19, 2009. It is the anniversary of Malcolm X's birthday. Malcolm's life should empower us everyday.
When he was a street hustler, Little Red could never have envisioned what he would become or what he means for many of us today. Malcolm described himself as "hip" then. In The Autobiography of Malcolm X: As Told to Alex Haley, he said:
"Shorty would take me to groovy, frantic scenes in different chicks' and cats' pads, where with the lights and juke down mellow, everybody blew gage and juiced back and jumped. I met chicks who were fine as May wine, and cats, who were hip to all the happenings.
Little Red informed Malcolm X. The latter never forgot the lessons he learned from the former.
Years later, when Malcolm stood looking out at predominantly Black working-class audiences, he knew the social, political, economical pit established for most of them to reside beneath the shadow of tyranny. He could face the shadow, too, without cowering or trembling in fear and speak: "Look up," he told the audience. "You sustain this shadow of tyranny. All of you, all at once, blow it away!"
It wasn't easy. Nothing is. At every opportunity he had to remind a defeated spirit that it had power to blow the shadow away. "Anything I do today," he said, "I regard as urgent."
Malcolm saw a crisis then, and it required his urgent attention. If he had had more time, if he had been allowed to organize and educate the masses to recognize their condition as an international crisis affecting all Black people, if he had had more time to then galvanize Black leadership around the masses to present the case of Black people to the United Nations, would we have not experienced the catastrophe of a multi-prong, international assault on Black people - one that even many Black leaders now pretend to ignore?
That the shadow would grow stronger on our fear, Malcolm knew. He saw the potential for us to accept an ever growing pit in which we would become accustom to living, in fear because over time, we would not be able to distinguish between our humanity and their definition of existence as criminals, terrorists.
The shadow now is a very real entity. Anywhere we go now, the shadow precedes us; it follows our steps; it surrounds us on all sides.
As Black people, Africans and Africans in the Diaspora, are linked to the other masses of pit-dwellers, the Brown, Red, and Yellow masses, and collectively, our desperation is usable in the service of a corporate empire.
We are "disposable" outright. We are the "disposable," ordered to dig deeper holes and reside as the "captured," far in the shadow, providing cheap labor and profits for the corporate empire, if we resist. The greatest conspiracy theory of them all: freedom and justice is for all - under the shadow!
We get confused; the shadow can be so overwhelming. We begin to identify ourselves with it, become absorbed in it, and think we're it! We are not the shadow! It is a way of existence that is unacceptable for many or many of us would still be on the cotton or tobacco plantations.
It was certainly unacceptable for John Africa and the group of freedom fighters. In Jailhouse Lawyers: Prisoners Defending Prisoners v. the USA, Mumia Abu Jamal recalls John Africa's closing statement in his 1981 court trial:
"The MOVE organization lives by the principle of life, the origin, the source. My Mama, or the person you heard referred to as mother nature - that's my mama (sic). That is your mama, too. Because I'm fighting for air that you've got to breathe (sic). Yeah, you do. And if it gets too polluted, you're not going to breathe that air. And I'm fighting for water that you've got [to] clean, and if it gets any worse, you're not going to be drinking that water. I'm fighting for food that you've got to eat. And you know, you've got to eat it and if it gets any worse, you're not going to be eating that food."