This Is How It Went Down

One time, I was reading Malcolm X’s autobiography, because that’s what you’re supposed to do when you want to know about civil rights, and other shit like that.

When he was in school, Malcolm was academically better than any other student, white or black. One time all the other students were somewhere else, and Malcolm and his favorite teacher were left alone. When the teacher asked him what he wanted to do with his life, Malcolm told him that he was thinking about becoming a lawyer. Without skipping a beat, the teacher laughed and said ?Malcolm, niggers can?t be lawyers!? Although the teacher encouraged him to pursue carpentry, this is where Malcolm began is nefarious life of crime. I read this story and I thought, ?god how awful. What would if feel like to be that kid??

Ten pages later, I got my answer. Along the road in his nefarious life of crime, Young Malcolm met up with a pimp. One day, Malcolm angered one of the whores that this particular pimp had in his possession, and in order to calm the woman he had upset, he smacked her upside the head. After the pimp became offended that his friend had chosen to mistreat his property as such, Malcolm became confused. You see it was Malcolm X?s particular belief that women couldn?t be reasoned with, and needed to be cared for in such a way that necessitated a good smack once in awhile.

At first, I thought ?sign of the times.? But then I realized that the times were the early 1960?s, and women?s lib was in full swing. In order to maintain the belief that women just need a smackin? now and then, Malcolm X had to make a concerted effort to look the other way when the vast majority of his generation?s females stood up and said things like, ?I think I?ll be a lawyer?

What I?m trying to say here really has nothing to do with Malcolm X. What I?m actually taking about is something that fascinates me even as it baffles and worries me. I see so many people living in the same world as me, walking the same streets, breathing the same air, and yet, they are blind to everyone but themselves. They can?t see the suffering of others because they?ve elevated their own self pity above any thing else in the universe.

I see people who?ve been told they aren?t good enough and they turn around and tell it to the next guy. That white teacher thought that Malcolm X couldn?t be a lawyer; Malcolm X thought that a woman couldn?t be reasoned with.

I?ve been told that the poor just can?t manage money, and I?ve been told that there?s no sexism in American anymore; that there?s no such thing as discrimination, but when we don?t pay people a decent days wage for a decent days work, and the children of privilege can tell the children of poverty that there?s a reason a cashier and a doctor don?t get paid the same wage, even as the doctor?s children have every luxury and the cashier?s children haven?t even got a home to live in, what exactly are we calling that?.

Is it any wonder that the children of doctors get to be doctors as well, and that the children of cashiers get to be cashiers as well? Because the children of everyone, rich and poor get fed the same pipe dream, that all you have to do is try and America will give you want. We are told that everyone?s equal, and as long as we continue to think that, we will never realize that the children of poverty work twice as hard to get half as much as the children of privilege. So we work four times harder than all of the rest, and when some students drive beemers, we walk or take the bus, and when some students live large, we live in our cars. When everyone else parties, we study or work just to keep up, just to scrape by. And in the end, we succeed just so our children could become the children of privilege, who will tell the other children that there?s a reason that cashier and a doctor don?t make the same wage.