What lessons can be learned from Malcolm X

By Nur Adilah Ramli

In a world where you are not seen as human, you are forced to become like an animal to survive in the jungle. When your rights are denied, you have to be evil to claim for your rights; if you don’t, you are asking for death.

Such was the life led by Malcolm X. Living in a slum, he had done all the sins imaginable. Drug was his life; he was a drug abuser, and to sustain his living, he became a drug pusher. Not only that, he was also a pimp, selling women into prostitution. His source of money also came from burglary.

At one glance, it appears that Malcolm X had only himself to blame. But if we look at the bigger picture, it is apparent that it was the system who brought the evil out of him.

Living in a segregated society where the Blacks were disregarded as part of the community, it was no surprise that the Blacks had to be aggressive to get their rights. Had their rights been fulfilled, they wouldn’t be fighting against the system. It is clear as day and night that it was the racial prejudice perpetuated by the system that caused the misery of the Blacks.

To reclaim their rights, Malcolm X called for the unity of the Blacks. Through his words, Malcolm X made the Blacks regain the belief that they were not second to the Whites. The Blacks were convinced that they could build their own system, isolated from the Whites. To be separated from the Whites was what was preached by Malcolm X until he found the truth – Islam – that calls for unity irrespective of race.

It was his pilgrimage to Mecca that changed his perspective. He had always known the Whites as evil for his life was wrecked by the people, but in Mecca, seeing that people of all colours joined together in the performance of Hajj, his whole perception of the Whites shattered. He learnt that God is colour-blind for He does not discriminate one for his colour. That realisation changed him from being a Black supremacist to a human supremacist.

Malcolm X taught us that in the eyes of God, regardless of our colour, we are equal. Why, then, are we disintegrating ourselves by favouring one race over another? Why are we reluctant to share the bounties that righfully belong to all of us?
We have not learnt from Malcolm X as until this moment, racism is pervasive in our society. Until now, the minorities are not treated with equity. Why, even after independence, are we still not liberated? Why are we not free from racism that is taking away others’ rights?

Consider these:

America is a multiracial country, but is the country racially integrated?
Malaysia is lauded for its colourful population, but are the non-Bumiputras treated the same way as the Bumis? Is the label “Bumiputra” not racist, to begin with?

As conscious human beings, we do not intend to question the Constitution of the country. Tacitly or explicitly, we have agreed to abide by the social contract. But if the system is not inclusive, are we not allowed to speak out? In the eyes of humanity, are we considered a rebel for wanting to have a fair system?

But of course, we know that it takes the spirit and zeal of Malcolm X to reform the society. If we can have more of the like of Malcolm X, we can change the system for the better. But if we can’t be Malcolm X who fought for humanity until his last breath, we can at least start by treating people indiscriminately. We might not be able to change the system but definitely we can change ourselves.***

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