I recently had the opportunity to watch 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 formulate my ideas as a teen when I read the book and, truthfully, they come out as a mixed bag. That’s because he himself was kind of a mixed bag. He was also a guy who, once he grew in spirit and demeanor, was a man of conviction and strong ethics; even if sometimes his conclusions were a bit stark.

I thought 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. He saw other people he got to know as Muslims instead of Black Muslims, and that they came in all colors and backgrounds. He realized that belief in one thing didn’t mean one had to be against something or someone else and that one didn’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.

It was a major change for a man who had an interesting background and history 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 for a time. White racists killed his father; black radicals killed him.

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 actually advocated the same thing white supremacists advocated, telling his brand of truth that went further than where the Nation wanted him go; how’s that for irony? Yet, at the end of his life he’d reconciled it all within himself and with many others. He was becoming stronger politically within his own neighborhood and the nation and it’s possible that he would have ended up doing a lot of good for a lot of people. More people were being drawn to him from everywhere, regardless of race or religion; contrast that with what’s happening these days.

Sometimes we overlook the lessons history teaches us. Either we’re not paying attention, we don’t want to see it or we feel like we can’t learn anything from the past that can help us now or in the future. Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali were probably the only two people who could have taught us a very valuable lesson if we’d only pay attention.

When we, as diverse humans, come together we have a chance to make this country and the world a great place to live. We can accomplish so much by acknowledging and embracing our diversity than being encouraged to go our separate ways.

Sometimes we come with baggage that’s hard to get rid of; people wanting to kill you is pretty big baggage as we’ve seen happen often. Most of us don’t come with that type of thing sitting on our shoulders, thank goodness. We need to learn the lessons that everything else can be overcome and we can produce magic if we could just learn to get along. Frankly, I don’t see it happening, especially when I keep coming across stories like this.

I really believe diversity is a good thing; check out this video:


https://youtu.be/vCb_5UVPLag

I’m trying to stay hopeful; who’s with me?
 

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