Today is the day that we celebrate the bEarth of one of our most beloved ancestors, El Hajj Malik El Shabazz, better known as Malcolm X. I was first introduced to his philosophy and life as a child. I was always on the search for information (I’m not too different now). I needed to read stories about my own people, about Afrikan people in this country and no one was speaking on it. All I ever heard about was Martin Luther King Jr and Rosa Parks—I needed more. I stumbled upon a copy of The Autobiography of Malcolm X in our neighborhood library. I was eleven years old but my life was changed on the day I checked that book out from the library.
As I read the book, I saw myself through his eyes. I realized that racism had been just as prevalent in my life as anything else; a kind of ugliness that had become so commonplace that it was permissible. No one had explained to me microagressions, the fake smiles, the push by parents, teachers, preachers to “fit” in to European standards of beauty, education, attire, speech. No one explicitly told me to fight back or that I should be angry about what I felt was wrong. Malcolm made it okay for me to be angry. When my white friends mom said I couldn’t sleep over or go inside their house; when the teacher refused to teach anything about Afrikan contributions to Amerikka; when store keepers followed me in the store because I obviously must be a thief—Malcolm spoke to me and said that their actions were not warranted and I should fight back. My anger became a very important tool in my development. I embarked on an exploration of my life and the lives of those connected to me. Malcolm made me proud of my Afrikan self.
He reached to the very essence of who I was and who I am today. Although he is not a blood relative, he is one of the most important ancestors in my life and I would not be the Lioness if it were not for him. He has been a master weaver in the tapestry of my life as a revolutionary-minded Afrikan wombman. So today and for the rest of my days in this earthly plane, I say salute to my dear ancestor Malcolm. I appreciate and love you for all you have done.
Ashaki Ma’at Mirembe Ali
The Tru Lioness