Today marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Malcolm X (he was gunned down in the Audubon Ballroom in New York City). In Saturday's New York Times, his daughter, Ilyasah Shabazz speculates about where her father might stand on issues affecting black Americans if he were alive today.
Shabazz - who was just shy of 3-years-old when her father was killed - claims X would be critical of current organizing efforts in the black community:
Of course, my father would be heartened by the youth-led movement taking place across the nation, and abroad, in response to institutional brutality. And he would appreciate the protesters' fervor and skillful use of social media to rapidly organize, galvanize and educate. In a sense, his ability to boil down hard truths into strong statements and catchy phrases presaged our era of hashtag activism.
But he would be the first to say that slogans aren't action. They amount to nothing but a complaint filed against a system that does not care. In his speeches, he did not simply cry "Inequality!" — he demanded justice, and he laid out the steps necessary to achieve it.
Shabazz offers a critique (one she believes her father would share) of the iconic "hands up don't shoot" chant, a staple in last year's anti-police brutality protests, and of the "black lives matter" movement:
He would also critique the activists' rhetoric itself. I imagine he would applaud the "Hands Up" gesture for its sheer dramatic effect, but also critique it as rank capitulation that ironically accommodates the very goal of police brutality — to intimidate and immobilize black citizens, forcing them into a defenseless posture if they hope to survive. He'd agree that "Black Lives Matter," indeed — but also note that the uniformed police officers who disagree are not likely to be persuaded by a hashtag.
Check out Shabazz's appearance on msnbc's Melissa Harris-Perry show this morning where the two discuss her father's legacy.
Image via AP