for years now I’ve had a ritual for Malcolm’s birthday – I either watch Malcolm x, or re-read his autobiography. since I didn’t have the book here, or enough Internet bandwidth to stream the movie, I had to take a different approach.
I put my mind towards Malcolm at 87 – if he had lived, what would he have done, what would he be thinking now, what would his legacy be?
I posted about this thinking on facebook, and someone said, sounds like a great science fiction or alternative history piece. I was thinking that too, so I spent the rest of the day writing one. it was thrilling to imagine Malcolm at 87, his potential futures, his potential impacts – to unfreeze him from history, from his assassination, from his legacy.
it made me realize how much is gained from continuing to evolve, and it made me realize again how much I feel like Malcolm’s potential was not fully realized, how much was stolen, what a tragedy his death was for all people, as inspiring and incredible as his brief life was.
I sent the story to a few friends for feedback, and maybe it will see the light of day somewhere. but the process itself was healing, invigorating – both as a way to extrapolate on my own analysis, my own impact, my own potential, and as a way to grieve for this man who has greatly shaped my life, though he died before my parents hit puberty.
there are not so many figures from history who I feel such love and romanticism for, and yet the more I see Malcolm as a figure of ongoing learning, the more I am able to learn from him, rather than just worshiping him. and of course this feels imperative to the development of my humanity, to move beyond the charisma, and the great story, and really grapple with the ideas, the key questions explored by his existence. to light myself in the arc cast by his life, as a continuation of his learning.
and the gift is this: his life continues to give, continues to grow the human potential.
happy birthday Malcolm.