As we come towards the end of Black History Month, it is very fitting that now is the time to commemorate one of the most significant figures of the black liberation and empowerment movement: Malcolm X. With the latest Netflix documentary “Who Killed Malcolm X?” out, now is also an appropriate time to look at what Malcolm X meant, and still means, to the black community, both in the US and across the seas, whether all members of that community realise that meaning or not.
The Netflix documentary centres around his murder, who was responsible, and the ripple effect it had on the lives of those involved and accused. But as with all things, it’s impossible to explore the significance of his murder without understanding his life.
Yes, Malcolm X was a black power figure. Yes, he was, at one point, part of the Nation of Islam. Yes, Malcolm x had a more confrontational approach to black freedom than some other black leaders, and yes, he was being tracked by the FBI. These are all well-known facts. But the real underlying truth behind all of that is, in some ways, Malcolm X was our last resort.
Where leaders like Martin were our beginning; our first steps into the march of freedom, Malcolm would have been our closing act and had he survived, the place of black people in history, and the world as it currently is, would have been different.
Het he existed as an unofficial ambassador on behalf of black Africans in the diaspora, and many of his philosophies advocated Garveyism; a belief that black people in the diaspora needed and deserved to return to Africa, possibly to their own state and exist solely for themselves.
Right now, Africans in the diaspora, in the USA and the Caribbean in particular, struggle because of chronic misidentification, forgetting that their American/ Caribbean part is only second to their African part. They forget that we are African first and anything that comes after is only as a result of it being forced onto by slave masters. And yet we fight for our American/ Caribbean side, we separate ourselves, thinking ourselves separate, if not better, than blacks in other parts of the world and that has always been our problem
If Malcolm had achieved what he had set out to accomplish, the end goal could potentially have been complete unity. We wouldn’t merely be better treated 2nd class citizens, but 1st class citizens in our own countries. Our own countries that value us, for us, rather than for what they can extract from us; and a country that benefits us, for the benefit of the country as a whole.
The unification of the black community is what the American Government and higher white powers that be have always feared and used against us since the days of slavery. Simplified, this is why the government got rid of Malcolm X, whether it was with the aid of the Nation of Islam or not is irrelevant.
So, it’s crucial not just to think of Malcolm as a militant black aggressor which is how the history books like to portray him (especially when discussing him next to MLK) but as one of the greatest leaders that the black community never had, and we have suffered because of this. The best ways to honour his memory and his work are by carrying out small acts to support each other. Try buy predominantly from black-owned companies; don’t go to black makeup counters and treat them like shit but kiss the ass of white makeup counters that don’t even cater to you (from my experiences of working at Morley’s in Brixton), don’t walk around thinking that you’re better than people just because your Jamaican and they’re Nigerian; aim to better yourself and your community so you can give back to that community and stop envying what your fellow black person has- don’t be jealous of their success and money because the damaging effects of that envy it extream, we saw it with Nipsey, Pop Smoke, XXXtentacion. All it does is make us, not only look bad but also plays into a harmful stereotype that has been preconstructed for us by the wider white-run governments. See their wins as a win for all of us and stop killing each other over money that you will only use to buy white-owned products. And above all, stop living your life to serve high powers that only see you as a statistic.