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This week I watched an older documentary that was produced by Ozzie Davis on the life of Malcolm X. I’ve read the autobiography, read some other biographies, and of course saw the wonderfully brilliant movie starring Denzel Washington that should have won an Academy Award, as should Washington.

Malcolm X
Thomas Hawk via Compfight

I wasn’t old enough to have a true opinion of Malcolm at the time he was alive. I could formulate my ideas later on and, truthfully, they come out as a mixed bag. That’s because he himself was kind of a mixed bag at times, although he was also a guy who, once he was a true adult, was a man of conviction and ethics, even if sometimes his conclusions were a bit stark.

To me, the most interesting part of his life was when he was on the outs with the Nation of Islam, looking for a direction to follow, and was invited to take a pilgrimage out of the country to the Middle East, where he saw other people he got to know as Muslims instead of Black Muslims, and realized that belief in one thing doesn’t mean you have to be against something or someone else, that you don’t need an enemy to get people moving in the right direction. He went from using the term “white devils” to realizing that everyone has certain goals that are similar, and if more people worked together positive changes were easier to make for all.

This was a major change for a man who had kind of an interesting background and life that had similarities from two totally different sides. As a child his house was firebombed by the KKK because of his dad’s “radical” beliefs of equality and black people learning to take care of themselves. As an adult his house was firebombed by black Muslims because of his telling the truth about Elijah Muhammad and basically taking the steam out of their movement, as well as the worry that he might end up being the leader and getting rid of the greedy criminal element that remained; telling it like it is folks.

He was hated as a kid, first because his family lived in a white neighborhood (kind of, they were farm folks so they lived apart from everyone, but it was considered “white” property), then when his father was killed and his mother institutionalized, he was made a foster child of a white family, went to a white school, and was hated there for being both black and brilliant.

He was hated as an adult for being the voice of an organization that wanted to grow yet hide, telling his brand of truth that went further than what the Nation wanted him to tell, and being more honest than anyone wanted him to be, even though he had a criminal background.

And yet, at the end of his life he’d reconciled it all within himself and with many others, was actually becoming strong politically within his own neighborhood while still having a national voice, and it’s possible that he would have become an elected official at some point and actually do a lot of good for a lot of people. And more people were being drawn to him from everywhere, regardless of race or religion.

In other words, when we as diverse humans come together, we have the chance to make this world great, even if it’s just our own slice of the pie. At the same time, sometimes we come with baggage that’s hard to get rid of; people wanting to kill you is pretty big baggage. Luckily, most of us don’t come with that type of thing sitting on our shoulders. Almost everything else can be overcome, and we can produce magic.

So, what magic are you ready to produce this weekend?
 

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