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November 12, 1992 - Image 9

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Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1992-11-12

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The Michigan Daily-Weekend etc. November 12, 1992 Page 1

Fear o f a
Black film
t he whale Malco/nm X
phenomenon isa glaring,
sometimes dismaying, case of
mo'viemakers and others revising
history and making a man who had
dubious impact in life appear to be
a towering social and politicalfig-
ure long after his death."
- Carl Rowan,
syndicated columnist
Sitting in my room, I thumb
through my well-worn copy of
Malcolm X' autobiography. Re-
reading the countless underlined
passages, I turn page after page of
thie words that have spoken vol-
umes to me. Words, that more than
any textbook, have taughtme about
life.
Malcolm X is someone I could
relate to. While I admired Dr. Mar-

tin Luther King with a passion,
when I watched those grainy old
films of him and his followers be-
ing savagely attacked and beaten,
something inside got real cold. The
anger would well up in me as if my
head would explode like one of the
guys in "Scanners." It just didn't
make any sense.
Then I read Malcolm X say that.
the only logical reaction to vio-
lence was violence. If they come at
you with a club, he said, you crack
'em back with a club of your own.
Now that made sense. Reading
those words legitimized my anger
that had been discredited by so
many, Black and White. It was go-
ing to take more than prayers and
passivity to implement change;
Action had to be in there some-
where as well.
Of course, this scared the hell
out of a whole lotta people. Sud-
denly, those hand-holding, "We
Shall Overcome" singing colored
folks that looked so cute on TV
getting the shit kicked out of them
were doing some ass-kicking of
their own. Why? o claim what
was rightfully theirs: Basic human
rights.
Malcolm X taught African-
Americans that their feelings of
inferiority were learned, and could
be overcome. There was no need to
burn our hair, or try to chemically
lighten our skin, to appear more
Caucasian. He reminded us of our
rich heritage, that we weren't al-
ways oppressed. -le spoke of the
days of African kings and queens,
days that had been erased from
"his-story."
Through his words, he spoke to
me. At a time when my head was
swimming with questions about
who I was, "The Autobiography of
Malcolm X" was nothing less than
life-changing. He put what itmeant
to be a displaced African in America
in pinpoint perspective.
SIn six days, Spike Lee's film"
MValclm X" opens in theaters na-
tionwide. Everyone in
McMedialand has been trying to
explain this "phenomenon" and its
impact on society. Will there be
riots in the streets? Is this filmjust
Lee pimping off adead man? What.
the hell do those "X" hats mean
anyway?
As Speech of Arrested Devel-
opment told me a few months back,
"X is justa letter. It's the substance
behind the concept that matters."
So no matter what you may think
about Lee's latest film, we can't
forget the substance behind the
concept. Malcolm X was a com-
plex and important figure in our
history whose teachings all people,
but especially African-Americans,
need to know about. And if only
one little brother or sister out there
has the same revelations seeing "X"
that I did when I first read his auto-
biography, none of the incidental
stuff matters at all.

i

- _
and/ Winnie'_
It was Tuesday night and Mom had to go to work. Like always, thought shor t Winnie, flaring a pout. Mom saw
- she always did - and blew out some air and sparked a suggestion: as she didn't like to drive to work especially
in this winter ice and darkness but Daddy didn'tmind though he hadn't in such a while now because of his being laid-
off and how - oh! wouldn't it be great fun for him to take Winnie to the circus that would only be a few blocks away
fom where she would be! Winnie had not been before and Daddy had not been outside in several days, it was "cold."
Winnie jumped on the idea. She bounced and bounced until realizing that Mom would not be with them, too, it
Swould be only Winnie and Daddy at the circus proper. Hmm Winnie thought again. But at least Mom would be there /',
Swith them in the car to and from. It could be OK, it would be new.
Daddy grumbled, frowned, and locked himself in the bathroom for at least half-an-hour. lie returned - having
showered and and put his denims w felt safer her to work and
~they were to be ready in three minutes or he would leave without them.
Winnie loe ord nthe dark. She mgneitobeacrag.Tecma diesel shook and chuggled. As the
heat didn't reach quite as far as her toes in the back seat, Mom let her bring a blanket for draping and stretching the
warmth. Switching from side to side, she watched the moon track her - until Daddy shouted "sit still" and "in the{
middle" where the weight was "more evenly distributed." When she needed to, she realized she was still tight to her
/ ~ parents, would watch their big heads, and pat Mom's bob so pouffy thick and inviting hand-kisses.
Daddy and Winnie dropped Mom off and parked the car. As it was late, their space was distant. The way was cold
Inside, it was a real building. Winnie never expected walls or a ceiling, only enormous, striped canvas tents, like
in color pictures of books. Still, it was exotic. February and Michigan were gone. There were secret pockets - I
N 'K everywhere, glowing dark purple and gold circular, Giant canopy nets and star-balloons floated high. The stands
crowded volcanic with foreigners who cheered and oohed. Winnie - for the first time (outside her brothers' room)
- smelled elephants.
Their seats were way up and next to a lady just then getting out of a bronze fur coat. With so much to see, Winnie
found it difficult to decide and focus on what would be the most exciting thing to watch. She couldn't risk missing
anything -- for Mom's sake - and so tried to stare at it all without blinking.
Soon, though, her eyes became cloudy and sore from the distance and again she noticed the lady with the fur coat
who Winnie thought was pretty and, with all of that blond so cleanly fastened up top, probably about twenty-three,
though she really had no idea what twenty-three meant or was all about. Suddenly, the lady pulled a logsleeve or
caramel corn pius a giant spun tree of pink cotton candy out from her coat.
Amazed, Winnie stared at the pink. It was definitely the most beautiful color she had ever seen. She liked the taste
ofpink, though Mom and Daddy gave her yellow most often. Perhaps she would have liked the taste of yellow if it -
wasn't so probably lemon. And warm. It reminded her: the ladies at the drive-up bank seemed only to send her lemon-
yellow lollies. Liking sweet so much, Winnie couldn't wait till she got home and started in the car. But the hot black
vinyl smoked invisible, tainting the yellow and making her head swim with the ache of chemical warm and too tight.

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But this pink seemed so pretty and cool and happy. She wanted to taste it even though she wasn't hungry.
She turned to Daddy and smiled and breathed and finally whispered could he - would he - buy her some? He
grumbled and told her she just ate dinner. She knew, but could she please have some anyway, it was so perfect. He
paused and told her, "No. You know I can't afford to waste money on candy, Mom already paid too much for these
tickets. Enjoy what you have."
And so. When the pretty lady offered her some, it was such like a dream and her mouth was made to say yes, but
Daddy intervened. He had brought gum, he seemed to apologize with a weak smile and generously gave Winnie a stick
of her own, ripped one in half for himself. It was white and had a green-lemon flavor.
Winnie tried to concentrate on the stuff far below. She giggled and clapped at all the right places and when Daddy
watched her and hugged her. But she could only think of this man. He was right. (Wasn't he?) She was not hungry,
she should not have asked for the pink. If she had really needed it, like she needed shoes, he would have bought her
some. It was just that her pigtails seemed sometimes to get in the way of her thinking.
When it was over and they were outside, she took Daddy's arm so if one went down he would not be alone. And
when they saw Mom and she asked how it was, Winnie's voice wiggled but smiled and said "it was fun" and "we
missed you." She hid the pink and her wanting it still until - by the time they got home - it didn't matter anymore
because the dark had swallowed it.

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One day Daddy wouldn't remember being at the circus. And Winnie would wonder why she never could like --
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