Friday, September 17, 2010
Malcolm and Betty, A Love Song
Malcolm and Betty,
A Love Song
Malcolm's alleged letter to the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, pleading for help with his domestic relations with Better Shabazz, may be a fabrication, but if it is authentic, it reveals, once and for all, the deep love and affection Malcolm and all followers of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad had for the man who was a father to us all, a master teacher in the oriental tradition, someone we came before in the most humble manner, the precious lamb of God.
Malcolm's letter reveals the honor and respect paid to HEM from the highest official to the lowest believer or laborer--so it is important for outsiders seeking an understanding of the Nation of Islam to study carefully the overall tone of this missal. It is especially important that young North American Africans consider the respect Malcolm showed his leader and teacher. Such respect must be paid to elders deserving of such. Our community will not progress until such humility is evident in the inter-generational crisis. Let not the present young generation be so ignorant as we were in the 60s that we called for the killing of any adult over thirty (Black Panther Bobby Seale). Huey P. Newton expressed great respect for the HEM, even seeing the Panthers as subservient to the NOI. Huey said to me, "A Party can be part of a nation."
As per Malcolm's letter to Elijah regarding his wife, Betty, clearly he was pleading for help in a desperate situation, a marriage on the rocks. It appears that the psychological damage he inflicted on himself during his hustling, pimping and prison life, combined with his new found responsibilities as a leader and organizer of the NOI, provided him little time and even desire to satisfy his young wife, Betty, although they didn't produce six children from doing nothing!
Life has a way of catching up with us when we least expect it--nothing in the universe is forgotten, perhaps only forgiven. And time is the great monster we see on the horizon, once we belatedly discover our life's mission.
For a revolutionary, a wife and family are often merely cosmetic, for such a revolutionary personality is often totally absorbed and obsessed with his mission. It becomes impossible to ever relax and take a chill pill, especially when we don't consider this is a four century struggle for freedom here in the wilderness of North America.
We don't know how to pace ourselves, thus we try to get to the finish line in a day, when it ain't gonna happen that way, as Dr. John Henrik Clarke reminded us, this is not a sprint but a long distance race!
So although we are provided a family or acquired one, family is often totally ignored and neglected in favor of an abstraction called freedom. But shall there be freedom without family?
Are we fighting to stand on the mountain top alone? What joy is this, what pleasure? Men often have their eyes glued to the sky and it takes a woman to bring us down to earth, almost literally, as in: "Git in the bed Malcolm and let them nigguhs go for a minute. Forget the X, just be Malcolm, please. You doin all this work for what? What you gonna have for your family when them nigguhs cut you loose?"
It is so very difficult to focus on the beloved because we are obsessed with the task at hand and the snakes in the grass, with deception and treachery the nature of political life.
There is clear evidence things got better between Malcolm and Betty. On more than one occasion I heard her discussing Malcolm, saying that he was, more than anything, her lover. And then she smiled, blushed and gave out that little laugh she was known for, revealing a deep love for the man. I am confident, in the afterlife, they are together in spite of the hell they endured in this life. Once I learned Betty was a Gemini like myself, I instantly understood her alleged crazy actions and insatiable desires.
from In the Crazy House Called America, Black Bird Press, Berkeley, 2002.