Today is an important day in history. It is the day a civil rights activist was shot and killed in New York City. His name was El Hajj Malik El Shabazz, or better known as Malcolm X. Born on May 19, 1925 in Omaha, Nebraska, Malcolm X went on to bring awareness about the inequality that was dividing America, between whites and blacks. His voice was one that people either found inspirational or fearful. His voice, and his words still hold a lot of truth today.
“If you don’t stand for something you will fall for anything.”
“Education is our passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today.”
“You’re not supposed to be so blind with patriotism that you can’t face reality. Wrong is wrong not matter who does it or who says it.”
“If you’re not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.”
”Sitting at the table doesn’t make you a diner. You must be eating some of what’s on that plate. Being here in America doesn’t make you an American. Being born here in America doesn’t make you an American.”
“You can’t separate peace from freedom, because no one can be at peace unless he has his freedom.”
“By any means necessary.”
- 47 Years & Malcolm X Still Lives On (aliben86.wordpress.com)
- Feb. 21, 1965 | Malcolm X Is Assassinated by Black Muslims (learning.blogs.nytimes.com)
- Photos: Malcolm X Killed 47 years Ago (abcnews.go.com)
Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. ~Martin Luther King Jr.
There is a great deal of truth in that statement. There is a similar quote, by Desmond Tutu, that goes like this. ”If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.”
We can’t be silent about things that are put in place to hurt, harm, or destroy people that are part of our society. Some say that getting rid of that section of society is morally just. But isn’t that a slap in the face of morality? By attempting to oppress the lives of people of colour, people with a different sexual orientation, people who do not identify as the gender they were born with, when doing that is that not in itself morally objectionable?
This talk of being “colour blind” or claiming “we all bleed red” is very nice to think of when we discuss matters of race or even alternative sexuality. But starting a sentence with “I’m not racist but” can usually be continued with a summary of paragraphs of information by the original speaker as “I’m now going to say something completely racist”. The same with those that say things like “I have gay friends” as though that’s supposed to give you a pass for saying something very homophobic.
We need to stop saying things like that and start listening. Then, when we have enough information, enough facts that don’t use a broad brush against an entire population of people, whatever their skin colour, sexual orientation or even religion or lack thereof, then we can start to narrowing the gap that makes those people feel like second or third class citizens. But it takes effort, and it’s not something that will just change over night. When one unjust law is changed, it doesn’t mean we’ve completely won. Because there is still a large group of oppressors out there who are working just as hard to ensure that any group that is not described as the “norm” will not have the same rights and freedoms as every single person on the planet.