As an African-American growing up in upper middle class suburbs, I was raised in a predominately white neighborhood.
From the soccer and tennis teams to the various social functions, white people surrounded me. In elementary school and high school I went to predominately white schools where I was typically the “token black kid.”
When February rolled around, the teachers didn’t expound much on the importance of African-Americans. The teacher would brush over the usual– Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks and occasionally Harriet Tubman.
Thankfully, there was one teacher in middle school who introduced me to a man whom I regard as one of the greatest influential leaders of all time, Malcolm X. While in class watching a documentary about his life, I sat in awe as he said, “I believe in the brotherhood of man, all men, but I don’t believe in brotherhood with anybody who doesn’t want brotherhood with me.
“I believe in treating people right, but I’m not going to waste my time trying to treat somebody right who doesn’t know how to return the treatment.”
From that day on, my interest in Malcolm X has developed into a somewhat unhealthy fascination. He was a courageous advocate for the rights of African-Americans and wasn’t afraid to boldly indict white America in the harshest terms for its crime against black Americans.
Fed up with the social injustices of black America, Malcolm X took a different turn from Martin Luther King Jr’s peaceful nature and violent behavior.
Saying once, “I am for violence if non-violence means we continue postponing a solution to the American black man’s problem just to avoid violence.”
Now, some may call him a racist and others may call him an extremist, but I call him a realist, a revolutionist. Malcolm X is still as relevant today as he was nearly 50 years ago. With today’s social distractions and prejudices, we can take a lesson from Malcolm X and realize that sometimes in order to get what we want we have to use force.
We can no longer stand by and wait for change to happen. If we want to see change we have to demand it.
As Malcolm would say, “be peaceful, be courteous, obey the law, respect everyone; but if someone puts his hand on you, send him to the cemetery.