Reading Malcolm X’s autobiography was one of the most life changing texts I’ve ever been able to experience. Malcolm X to me became more than just a historical figure, more than a man you read about in the classroom (if you’re lucky). I spent a good amount of time savoring his narrative, I brought it with me to different places in the country, I brought his name up in conversation with different kinds of people. I read about Malcolm’s sister named Ella in the rolling hills of a small town in New Hampshire. I read about his time in Mecca while quarantine at home. What struck me the most was Malcolm’s willingness to learn, his willingness to educate himself constantly to understand the routes of systems of oppression. For the first time I could see myself idolizing someone who did not idolize themself. I read through Malcolm’s time believing what he would later reject, I read about the education that encouraged that rejection.
Malcolm was murdered by the fbi, the police, the United States whatever you want to call it. But his legacy today I would argue is only becoming more and more poignant. While all the other histories just seemed to be putting bandaids on explanations of oppression routed in systems that would have to be dismantled, Malcolm knew that was the real problem. Malcolm was an anti-capitalist when his blackness was in-itself enough to end his life in violent performance. Malcolm believed in liberating all apartheids, all segregational societies, all systems of injustice. Malcolm knew the danger of the white moderate, he knew the danger of neo-liberalism in our culture.
Eventually I asked myself what Malcolm would want me to do. I ran miles and I read books. I talked to people and I learned about their stories. I listen, I listen a lot more now. I write down what I hear, I don’t accept what I hear. I am courageous in what I choose to hear. Here is a girl or a person, whatever I want to call myself, here is a moment where I feel like I have a religion. An organization or a north-star of freedom. Malcolm X will forever be my greatest inspiration, to fight hard. To fight hard even when it hurts.