[Comment: Post-Shabazz Death]
As the Fourth Estate, journalism incorporates numerous contrasting external appearances.
The most popular and profitable of these forms are tabloid and yellow journalism and the least popular and profitable being advocacy and investigative journalism. Tabloid and yellow journalism tend to deal with sensationalism, gossip, unsubstantiated claims and oblique allusions.
Advocacy and investigative journalism tend to incorporate uncovering facts, primary sources, and arguing in favor of an idea or policy by validating the truth based on evidence. The public have read numerous commentaries regarding Malcolm Lateef Shabazz’s life and death. For the most part, the commentaries have been made by those heavily invested in tabloid and yellow journalism.
Thus, those particular commentaries are disingenuous, illogical, and sloppy in terms of scholarship and journalistic integrity. In journalism like in scholarship, the goal is to seek the truth and disseminate that truth to the public in hopes of producing more knowledge and creating an informed and engaged citizenry. However, in the United States, for the most part, the goal of scholarship and journalism is to distort the truth and promote a disingenuous global African historiography by philistines who are misanthropic to anything and anyone African. As Malcolm X once stated, “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.”
Dr. Boyce Watkins in Black Blue Dog’s dubiously titled “The Next Malcolm X Must Not Be Allowed to Die,” states that “in order for us to learn from Malcolm, we must view his life honestly. We have to question whether a man who could be killed at any moment should put a wife and children in danger along with him. We must wonder if Malcolm was as good of a father as he appears to be in the beautiful picture of him holding his two daughters. We can’t be afraid to admit that Malcolm might have made huge mistakes that have had a ripple effect to this day.”
In response to Dr. Watkins’s sensationalism, Herb Boyd and I infer in The New York Amsterdam News’ “Don’t diss Malcolm Shabazz,” the following: “What was Malcolm supposed to do? Stop living his life knowing it was imminently endangered? End his quest and demand for human rights? His family was in no less danger than when they were sleeping with him in their home after it had been firebombed the previous week. Perhaps he wanted them closer to him, in his sight, so he could provide them with whatever protection he could muster. And for Watkins to question Malcolm’s rectitude as a father without offering evidence for support is reprehensible and uncalled for.”
Additionally, at the time when information is still scant about the brutal death of young Shabazz, were there not other compelling angles for discussion?
Moreover, what is there to be afraid of regarding “admitting” Malcolm X “might have made huge mistakes?” Where and what is the imminent threat in “admitting” such a thing? If anything, the fear embedded in us is to not be like Malcolm X because we will end up like Malcolm X – viciously gunned down by our own in front of your family for the benefit and maintenance of global white supremacy. There is neither fear nor a threat in “viewing Malcolm X’s life honestly” – no one to date has died a violent death “viewing Malcolm X’s life honestly.”
Actually, if one views Malcolm X’s life in a mendacious manner, that person might be awarded either a Pulitzer, MSNBC show, or a cushy faculty position at a high profile university. Countless Africans at home and abroad die if they dare duplicate Malcolm X’s valor and frankness when critically analyzing a world that is simply anti-African. The Outline for Petition to the United Nations Charging Genocide against 22 Million Black Americans states “murder and brutalization is a source of terror, as it is intended to be, to the whole population of America’s black nationals. As a result, our people exist in a constant fear that cannot fail to cause serious bodily and mental harm.” Thus, to boldly speak in an honorable manner about Malcolm X and our plight is to risk your life and the lives of your family – Malcolm X can attest to that fact.
To address further Watkins’ ambivalence towards Malcolm as a husband and father, Dr. Betty Shabazz in “Malcolm X as a Husband and Father,” states the following: “I suppose people who only knew Malcolm from his public appearances and fiery speeches couldn’t even imagine what he was like as a father.
Malcolm had a very beautiful reaction to becoming a father – the gentleness he showed was really so profound.” Dr. Shabazz also firmly asserts “I loved Malcolm for the traits he displayed as a husband and a father, and I admired and respected the drive, the dedication, and the unselfishness he showed in his work.” In regards to Malcolm X as a husband and father, Dr. Shabazz concludes by stating “our life was short but abundant with experiences more rich than most people enjoy in a lifetime. Malcolm X was the greatest thing in my life and he taught me what every female ought to learn: to live and to love as a woman, to be true to myself and my responsibilities as a mother. And to use my spiritual, material, and intellectual capacities to help build a better human society.” Given this primary source regarding Malcolm X as a husband and father, Dr. Betty Shabazz renders Dr. Boyce Watkins’ postulation invalid.
For Professor James Small, Imam of Muslim Mosque Inc., Ella Collins bodyguard, and president of the Organization of Afro-American Unity, Malcolm X was a caring upright husband and loving father who provided food, clothing, shelter, and protection for his family. On May 19, 2013, while presiding over the 88th birthday solemnity of Malcolm X at Ferncliff Cemetery in the pouring rain, Professor Small told a devoted crowd of over 300 Pan-Africanists that numerous African leaders along with the Shah of Iran and Mao Zedong of China offered Malcolm X and his family refuge.
Small pointed out that prior to his assassination, Malcolm X had plans to visit Chairman Mao and consider his offer of asylum.Furthermore, according to Small, the Blood Brothers, Sunni Malik , and Black Diamond and his coterie were on their way to protect Malcolm X and his family on that dreadful night in New York City on February 21, 1965 where the plot to assassinate Malcolm X, which forever made Black folks afraid to be revolutionaries, was executed.
Professor Small asserted that before they could make it to the Audubon Ballroom, the Blood Brothers, Sunni Malik, and Black Diamond and his coterie were detained by law enforcement agents and the intelligence community.
The lead organizer of the May 19 Pilgrimage to Malcolm X’s sacred burial site, Bro. Reggie states that “Boyce Watkins and others should be held accountable academically,” for “purposefully manipulating the truth and neglecting facts as they go far beyond academic freedom and journalistic integrity in their fallacious reports.” As Herb Boyd and I point out, “consider the fact that many writers and reporters are fixated on Shabazz’s ‘troubled life’ and ‘criminal life’ without taking into account the glaring fact that Shabazz’s most recent conviction was in 2002, and in 2006, his innocence was affirmed regarding the case when he allegedly punched a hole in a store’s glass window.”
Yet, oddly, in a YouTube video, “The Tragedy of Malcolm’s Grandson,” Dr. Boyce Watkins and Yvette Carnell, are fixated with Malcolm Shabazz’s teardrop tattoo rather than his socio-political evolution and global perspective. For them, Shabazz’s teardrop tattoo is an indicator that he killed someone. Needless to say, the teardrop tattoo can also represent someone who is dear to your heart that passed away not always or necessarily someone you killed and/or a gang/prison insignia that represent the number of years the person was incarcerated or the number of times a person might have been raped while being incarcerated. In the case of Malcolm Shabazz, his teardrop tattoo was located underneath his left eye which signifies that he lost a loved one. As Malcolm X correctly asserted, “the media is the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s power. Because they control the minds of the masses.”
That power is evident when the dominant press neglects to probe into the life of Miguel Suarez, the labor leader of RUMEC (Revolutionary United Mexicans in Combat) who was deported sometime in April 2013 and accompanied Malcolm Shabazz during the time of his death. For Milton Allimadi, publisher and editor-in chief of the Black Star News, Miguel Suarez should be investigated as “there are many unanswered questions at this point.”
In his Black Star News’ piece, “Malcolm Shabazz’s Suspicious Violent Death: Some Questions for Miguel Suarez Too,” Allimadi asks the following crucial questions:
1. How did Suarez himself survive the gunman whom he says took him to another room?
2. Why was he taken to another room and what happened while he was there?
3. How long was Suarez in the other room with the gunman and how did he escape?
4. How long was Suarez away before he returned for Malcolm Shabazz in the cab?
5. Who else witnessed the beating of Malcolm Shabazz since, presumably, there were other patrons inside the bar and there were also people outside the bar?
6. Was this a bar that Suarez had frequented in the past and did he know the people who own or operate the bar?
7. Perhaps the most important question: Suarez says he was taken away by a gunman and that while he was in another room he ‘heard a commotion’; presumably this was Malcolm Shabazz being beaten.”
Allimadi concludes, “yet, even after he had been held at gunpoint and somehow managed to escape, instead of calling the police immediately, Suarez left and then came back in a cab to look for Shabazz. It was then only after he found Shabazz with his face ‘messed up’ that he called the police.”
In whatever manner, media outlets have yet to probe deeply into the life of Miguel Suarez and every possible angle that remains unexplored.
Thus, it is up to us, the Black press, to take the lead on this story and to tell the Shabazz story in a manner that is appropriate to the particular circumstances at hand. With the internment of Malcolm Shabazz at Ferncliff Cemetery and the not long past arrest and bail of Malcolm X’s second grandson, Malik Shabazz, the Shabazz family needs support not sensationalism.
Professor Patrick Delices is a political analyst / commentator for the Black Star News and the author of “The Digital Economy,” Journal of International Affairs. For nearly a decade, Prof. Delices has taught Africana Studies at Hunter College. He also served as a research fellow for the late Pulitzer Prize recipient, Dr. Manning Marable at Columbia University.