YOUNG BRIGHT MALCOLM:
Considering Malcolm X as a child, considering Black boys today…
In the picture above, Malcolm X is 6 or 7 years old. It is around 1933 and the ‘Great Depression’ has dug its heels into the economically devastated American populous. If you were white, your whiteness was not so much of a blanketed notion as it is today. You were defined by your European nationality, be it that you were Italian, German, Polish, Irish, Jewish National, etc.
Black, on the other hand, was blanketed back then as it is today. You were not considered a descendant of the far away lands of the Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Jamaica, or the Caribbean. You were not even associated with the American land under your feet. You were designated as nigger.
I think it is important to acknowledge that this is not ancient history. Malcolm would be 89 years old today. Many of us, Black and White alike, have grandparents and parents still living today that were alive during this time.
So there Malcolm stands; a flame in the wind. An energetic little boy in not just rural America during the Great Depression, but BLACK rural America during the Great Depression. A ‘Great Depression’ for White America must’ve meant the ‘Great Psychosis’ for Black America, not only dealing with the economic poverty, but the absolute neglect and being unprotected from violence and brutality by White racist.
Those conditions would turn young bright and promising Malcolm into an 8th grade dropout, addict, criminal, deviant, and felon- before he would resurrect into the man the world came to know.
More than 80 years after this picture was taken, larger numbers of Black boys and young men are being flung into prisons and addiction than was ever imaginable back then. They are flames in the wind. Our boys are still encouraged to embrace thinking that defiles them, stifles their trajectory, and shortens their life span.
What did you say into the ears of a Black boy today? What song did you play for him? What name did you call him? What do you expect from him? Do you fear him or love him?
It is my hope that we tell all our children of all races about little boy Malcolm. That we teach our children how bright he was as a child, how he was attacked as a child, what he endured, how he fell, and how he rose again.