If you’ve never heard Malcolm X speak, cue him up on Youtube. The Wild Ones will come directly to mind, and you’ll soon be conjuring up the words of Marlon Brando in search of something to rebel against. “What ya got.”
The dude was a beast, and Death of a Prophet with Morgan Freeman as X will clue you in. For instance, I recently found his take on one of the most unifying moments in American History, and he lays waste to it.
The March on Washington in all its numerical might stood ready to completely shutdown the government. As such, Kennedy called in the “Negro” leadership to quell a situation that was on the brink.
Claiming they didn’t have the power to stop the ensuing chaos, Kennedy offered his sanction, and sucked the wind out of the storm, according Malcolm.
“This is what they did to the March on Washington. They joined it, became part of it, took it over. And as they took it over, it lost its militancy. It ceased to be angry, it ceased to be hot, it ceased to be uncompromising. Why, it even ceased to be a march. It became a picnic, a circus, with clowns and all.”
Yeah, “What ya got,” but there was another Malcolm X. As a young man, he was a completely self indulgent operator. Straightening his hair and dressing loud on the Chicago nightclub scene, he would land in jail on a ten year larceny stretch.
For my purposes, he offered some insight from this period that brings me into the fold. Commenting on the robotic like dance moves of white men, he pinpointed the source. “They aren’t in touch with their pain.”
That said, I think I’m a decent dancer – freely expressing my pain daily. Whatever the subconscious prerequisites, I chalk it up to a mash pit of a bar in college called Woodstock’s. Unencumbered by the anxiety of dancing with a girl, I blossomed by freely crashing into the crescendo of bodies – preferably of the female variety.
In more recent years, since I’m too timid to actually ask a girl to dance, I just go mix it up on the dance floor, hoping someone will be impressed enough to join in. Believe it or not, the method works on occasion.
But unfortunately since I read the autobiography, I can’t get that image of the stereotypical white man languishing on the dance floor and wondering if that’s how I look. As a result, the world has seen a lot less of me in that regard.
Malcolm X, America’s gain, my loss – even though I’m pretty sure there are plenty of people who see this as a win-win.
Rich Monetti lives in Somers, New York. He graduated with a degree in Computer Science from Plattsburgh State but changed careers to journalism in 2003. When not working on features, he's honing a screenplay loosely and humorously based on Richard III, and the events that led up to his demise. You can follow him on his blog.