Considering Malcolm X in the age of Rick Ross and the American Dumbass
By Ise Lyfe
About three months ago now I found myself crying in my living room while painting. It was one of those types of cries where you realize you’re crying after the tears are already running down your face. My ipod was on shuffle and had at some point landed on a Malcolm X speech (“Harlem Unity Rally”- You can listen to a youtube version here) and I was nodding and smiling along as this beautiful brother told it like it was and tragically still is in many respects. Malcolm uses some harsh adjectives to describe the persons, places, and things that he saw as the enemy to Black people back in 1963. I encourage all races of people to listen through this speech and be mature enough to move through the language and hear the great truth in his words. I believe if Malcolm were alive today on his 88th birthday, he would’ve long left the cracker whitey, honkey language in his old toolbox- but his message and stride would be the same. Today, in 2013, I think the use of words like cracker, white devil, etc- would be extreme, counterproductive, and unnecessary. Also, many Black people today would walk away from that kind of talk because when you’re critical of white people and their racism, a whole lot of these Black folks out here dive in front of white people to protect them like a pimp diving in front of his Cadillac being shot at…
Malcolm X was our uncompromising manhood. He stood for us and left a glaring example for us and proof of our potential. Every brother walking around knows that there is a Malcolm X inside of them if they choose to act on it.
I look at these dumbass cats on TV and on the radio. Then I look out onto the real world at all the little brothers idolizing and mimicking them. My conclusion is that these crippled men and defective children feel ugly and un-beautiful. The notion of, “These bitches out here are on a nigga nuts and want me because of my car, my money, my home” or “I gotta get this money” are all alluding to the more authentic sentiment of: “I am nothing. I am a nigger. Without jewelry and money and clothes draped over my body to distract you from my nigger-ness you will see me and think I’m ugly and nothing. Worthless.
So on comes the jewelry and hat bent so low you can’t see his face. Clothes so big you can’t see his body and sunglasses so dark you can’t look into his eyes. His smile covered up with metal and the newest trend; his entire black body, every inch of his black skin covered in tattoo ink with messages and images that indict his inner God and celebrate his outer insecurity and self loathing.
I find at the core of Malcolm’s message a furious attempt at getting us to recognize our adequacy. For Black people to see that we are enough and plenty just as we are. From that comes self determination and dignity.
Despite our NBA and NFL highlights, how fine we are, our reality TV show fame, the few of us that graduate from universities, and Kerry Washington’s role on Scandal- we are a pitiful and sickly people, living in the reality that Malcolm warned us would come if we failed to believe in ourselves. We have the diseases and the felony record without any control over the medicine and food, laws or prisons.
However…You are a divine human being with an African face- capable of turning it all around with one simple decision to accept who you are naturally as enough.
All the love there is to the phenomenal incredible incomparable, Brother Malcolm X.
Ise Lyfe is a Spoken Word Hip-Hop Theater Artist, author and educator.
As a nationally renowned artist, justice advocate, businessman, and social architect from Oakland, CA- this young man has a decade of experience in performance and education that includes HBO Def Poetry Jam and residencies and lectures at over 300 universities including Yale and Princeton. Ise Lyfe is simply a unique and powerful asset to the artistic and human rights world.*In 2012, Ise Lyfe’s hometown of Oakland, CA awarded him with one of it’s highest honors by dedicating his birthday, December 28th, as ’Ise Lyfe Day’ in the City of Oakland.