Would Malcolm X Be Apart of Canceled Culture?
On Thursday, May 23, at the Black Gotham space, I participated in a passionate conversation that grew into a debate. But before I get into the breakdown, let me give you the full context of the evening.
Black Gotham is an organization in New York City, curated to showcase blackness and excellence that have been imprinted in the city. It was founded by Kamau Ware and his amazing team in 2008. Black Gotham was created to hold walking tours throughout the city (Gotham, for my Blerds!) and showcase the history left by Black folks in particular neighborhoods. Today, it provides art exhibitions, speaking panels (such as #nerdythursdays), and memberships.
I was a guest panelist and spoke about the passions I have as an activist and an active member of the AHUS familia. The conversation, referenced earlier, centered around how our work continues to channel the late, great Malcolm X during this social climate.
The panel was moderated by Janelle Noami, and fellow panelist, Kei, an activist fighting against prison reform. Kei also is a member of the Black Lives Matter chapter in NYC. I was in amazing company.
We spoke of our experiences from code-switching, dual identities and expressing our passions, and it all was captured perfectly. But there was one question that triggered deeper analysis: "Would we cancel Malcolm X if he was alive today?"
We tend to highlight Malcolm as this great prolific figure, as he was, but we forget his journey. The journey of what it takes to get to your extended greatness. I think of the crimes he committed, the ruthlessness he once possessed, his misogynistic behavior and all of the negative stories of his immaturity.
We forget that Malcolm and others didn’t grow into icons overnight. They had to go through the darkness in order to find the light that was not outwards, but within us, that connected them to their purpose. When I think of Malcolm, I compare him to the greats (new & old) in our lives. Figures who are no longer with us. Nipsey “The Great” Hussle comes to mind. A man who had to go through the mud but had enough grit in order to find the light within once again.
And that’s what Malcolm means to me! He was proof that our adversities, backgrounds, and our darkest moments could not deteriorate our purpose. He discovered his inner light, which guided him to the purpose he needed to fulfill. He provided fruit from his tree of knowledge and shared it with his community. So yes, he was a great man, no doubt. We, however must learn from his past, the good, the bad and the ugly, to see how he developed into what we memorialize him as today.
However, if we were to dissect his past and just focus on the abuse he caused, would we cancel him? Are we giving enough time for people like Kanye (yes, the king of canceled) to learn or is it because his actions are continuously monitored that we forget he is human like us? These are my questions. The conversation was heavy and with a few head nods and looks of curiosity, we sat stumped, unable to reach a resolution. Are we really canceling everyone before giving them time to grow?
Once again, thank you to Black Gotham NYC and the community for providing a platform for me to speak of the impact of this great man.
If you are in the NYC area, please partake in their #NerdyThursday conversations
You can RSVP to their events here: http://blackgotham.com/nerdy-thursdays/