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BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY
MALCOLM X: REAL, NOT REINVENTED
A Book Review


Special for THE NEW TIMES HOLLER!
THE BALLAD OR THE BULLETIN
Amir Bey, 2012
FEBRUARY 21
BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY MALCOLM X: REAL AND NOT REINVENTED, Critical Conversations on Manning Marable?s Biography of Malcolm X
      Edited by Herb Boyd, Ron Daniels, Maulana Karenga, and Haki R. Madhubuti, Third World Press 2012, 285 pages, illustrated. $19.95

Last April, Manning Marable?s much awaited biography Malcolm X A Life of Reinvention was published within two days before the prolific historian?s passing.
      Malcolm ? Al Hajji Malik al Shabazz: without embellishments his story, with its trials, intrigue, tragedy, and inspiration is what profound legends are made of, in degrees beyond any American leader in my opinion.
       And controversial. This latest addition to the growing library of books, film, and photography surrounding his life and death created a firestorm in the community of Malcolm devotees and scholars. The scholarship of this 20-year tome was criticized, not only for how Marable?s sources were used and evaluated, or in some cases not acknowledged, but also his appreciation of Malcolm as a revolutionary black nationalist has been challenged.
      His initial motivation to undertake this project was his questioning of Haley?s Autobiography because he felt that there were inconsistencies and missing parts that needed more explanation. As he began his research, he felt the need to make Malcolm more ?human,? to de-icon, to deconstruct him. In his attempt to do so, he delved into private areas of Malcolm?s life that hadn?t been focused on before by previous writers. One of the more controversial areas of his search was Malcolm?s sexuality and his relationship with his wife, Betty Shabazz.

BY MANY MEANS

EXTENSIVE COMMENTARIES
Third Word Press has published its response, By Any Means . I must warn you: I'm a contributor, yet I truly think that it's a great production: it is a discourse on Malcolm, scholarship, revolutionary Black Nationalism and internationalism by the nearly 40 contributors, giving an appropriate focus on Malcolm. It's well thought out, and the photos (one of my criticisms of Marable's book) are excellent, not only as images, but in the context and care that they were placed. And considering the length of time that this was put together - 9 months compared to Marable's 20 years - this is a remarkable contribution to the ongoing discussions about Malcolm. The Third World Press editors took advantage of the momentum from Marable?s publication, which had re-lit Malcolm?s eternal fire in a broad spectrum of progressive caldrons.
      I took what Marable wrote and added it to what I understand about Malcolm, such as his notion of Malcolm's self-reinventions being similar to those of an artist, which, being an artist, I view Malcolm as a grand example of how an individual and their work evolves, and how evolution is necessary to grow. Malcolm was the universal Manchild who became a conscious Black Man (?Matter of fact, I?m a Black Nationalist Freedom Fighter?): his life was a model, a precursor of the urban Manchild's evolution.
       By Any Means lays much criticsm on Marable's Reinvention, mostly enlighteningly constructive, some vehement, along with strong supporters of this work. This isn't a collection of opposing views, but a compilation that includes very insightful commentary of Malcolm's times and percieved aims. Thus By Any Means is inclusive of many points of view; and after reading this book one will have dined on various perspectives and concepts dealing with Malcolm, and a continuing living thread of ?Malcolm thought." It is stand-alone; if one hasn't read Marable's book the thoughtful analyses in By Any Means are a source for in-depth Malcolm Study.
       The current discussions are laying important foundations for the continuity of Malcolm's legacy, from individuals who met with, were alive during his time, or gained inspiration from him after his time. These will become documents that will define him for many years to come.

THE CONTRIBUTORS

Sonia Sanchez, Imam Talib Abdur-Rashid, Mumia Abu-Jamal, Abdul Alkalimat, Molefi Kete Asante, Rick Ayers, Amiri Baraka, Amir Bey, Todd Burroghs, Ta-Nehisi Coates, William Jelani Cobb, Karl Evanzz, Iyaluua and Herman Ferguson, Bill Fletcher Jr., Glen Ford, Rhone Fraser, Wil Haygood, Kelly Harris, Errol Henderson, Fred Hord, Peter James Hudson, Ezra Hyland, Regina Jennings, Peniel Joseph, Clyde Ledbetter Jr., Fred Logan, Kevin McGruder, Starla Muhammad, Nell Irvin Painter, Imani Perry, Gregory J. Reed and Bryonn Bain, Michael Simanga, Diane Turner and Aslaku Berhanu, Ilyasah Shabazz

MALCOLM AT THE CAIRO MOSQUE
September, 1964



In this photo the quick-witted warrior fighting legions of adversaries
appears youthful, almost innocent as a devoted practitioner of his religion
John Launois/Black Star

INTERPRETATIONS AND SEMANTICS

Some years ago a friend was working on a sculpture of Malcolm. I noticed that his nose wasn?t rendered accurately. A close examination of Bro. Malcolm?s nose will reveal a difference between his nostrils. His left nostril hangs lower than his right, slightly flatter, fuller, it almost seems collapsed by comparison, with the right nostril?s opening a more circular shape to the left?s oval. My friend had made Malcolm?s nose symmetrical, balanced. Of course; what artist would imagine without examination, that Malcolm had an asymmetrical nose?
      Everyone has some asymmetry in their facial features, often one of the ears is larger, higher, may stick out more. One side of the face may be broader, or the mouth may be longer on one side, and more upturned at the corner; if one were to make two copies of the left side of the face and reverse one and then join the halves together, and also do the same with the right side, you would have two faces as different as fraternal twins'.

MALCOLM IN LONDON
February 9, 1965


This photo was taken when he was denied entry to France and went back to London. He attributed this denial to the US government's influence.
AP/Wide World
Controversies can arise through the choice of words used to describe this characteristic. Complications would develop when inferences that liken one nostril as being more ?African,? ?Debilitated,? ?Radical,? ?Sinister,? or ?Appropriate,? than the other. Moreover, does this unique feature indicate: inconsistency, a secrete desire to integrate, harmony through unconventional relationships, duality, and/or??
      Was Malcolm homosexual? If true, how much would that matter? I remember meeting James Baldwin in my twenties, and looking in wonder at the lines of intelligence that nature had intricately crafted onto his face. Manning Marable, in discussing Malcolm?s supposed homosexuality, did he use the right words to describe the situation that those acts occurred in? Did he take into account the possible ulterior motives of the sources who provided that information, which even he admitted was circumstantial? Do the acts of a pimp and a hustler for hire describe his core identity and socio/sexual orientation or merely what he was being paid to do?

CO-MEMORIES FOR MALCOLM IN THE SAN FRANCISCO EAST BAY

As we near the 47th anniversary of Malcolm's assassination (February 21, 1965), I remember how the San Fransisco's East Bay Area (Berkeley, and Oakland, which was the birthplace of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense) held him in higher esteem than any other leader of African descent during the late 60s through the late 70s. It was striking: there is Malcolm X Elementary School in Berkeley (one is DC also), with a large photo of Malcolm greeting the students as they entered the school's lobby.
      Malcolm X Day events were bigger and more passionately observed than observations for his brother in sainthood, Martin Luther King Jr. Because African Liberation Day was held around the last Saturday in May, near his birthday on the 19th, there was an added boost for the observation of his birthday from the annual event, which was held in major cities around the country, with Oakland, CA being one of the last to stop holding those gatherings. And parallels between him and Ho Chi Minh were sometimes drawn because they shared the same birthday.

I thank Manning Marable for his research, for his use of heretofore unavailable sources such as Malcolm's diaries, letters to Elijah Muhammad, and most of all for adding to Malcolm's legacy.

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