top of page
  • Writer's pictureDeric Hollings

Malcolm in the Middle

The middle of extremes

The product of a marriage between a black dad and a white mom, I went through a period of time in adolescence during which I grappled with what being biracial meant to me. Though they divorced when I was three-years-old, I had the opportunity to live with both parents, separately, until being placed in a children’s home in seventh grade.

During the summer between my high school freshman and sophomore years, a white family took me in from the children’s home. With my rudimentary artistic skills, I drew a picture of Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X (later known as el-Hall Malik el-Shabazz) and hung it in my room.

The white mother of the family instructed me to remove the drawing from my wall, because in her view, neither man was honorable or worthy of esteem. Meanwhile, her daughter’s battle flag of what became General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia was on full display within the daughter’s room.

Nonetheless, and during a period of time prior to public access of the Internet, I sought to learn as much as I could about Martin and Malcolm. Rather than hero worship, I wanted to understand the struggle against oppression— the state of being subject to unjust treatment or control.

At that time, a number of hip hop artists used quote snippets from both civil rights movement leaders. Per my limited understanding, I preferred Malcolm’s message to Martin’s.

Raised with a Judeo-Christian foundation, the concept of passivity was unappealing to me. I didn’t view myself as a defenseless sheep in need of a protective shepherd, nor did I agree with instruction to turn the other cheek when being assaulted.

Back then, I agreed with rapper Speech, from the hip hop group Arrested Development, when he addressed the topic of pacifism in “Fishin’ 4 Religion”:

The reason I’m fishin’ 4 a new religion is my church makes me fall asleep. They’re praising a G-d that watches you weep and doesn’t want you to do a damn thing about it. When they want change, the preacher says, “Shout it!” Does shouting bring about change? I doubt it. All shouting does is make you lose your voice, so on the dock I sit in silence, staring at a sea that’s full of violence. Scared to put my line in that water, ‘cause it seems like there’s no religion in there. Naively, so I give it another go, sitting in church hearing legitimate woes. Pastor tells the lady, “It’ll be alright, just pray so you can see the pearly gates so white.” The lady prays and prays and prays and prays and prays and prays and prays and prays—it’s everlasting. “There’s nothing wrong with praying?” It’s what she’s asking. She’s asking the Lord to let her cope so one day she can see the golden ropes. What you pray for, G-d will give to be able to cope in this world we live. The word “cope” and the word “change is directly opposite, not the same. She should have been praying to change her woes, but pastor said, “Pray to cope with those.” The government is happy with most Baptist churches, ‘cause they don’t do a damn thing to try to nurture brothers and sisters on a revolution. Baptist teaches dying is the only solution. Passiveness causes others to pass us by. I throw my line till I’ve made my decision. Until then, I’m still fishin’ 4 religion.

As potentially misguided as the reader may consider my perspective at the time, Martin’s rhetoric seemed to advocate weakness. Conversely, Malcolm, who was born in 1925, carried a message of strength in opposition to the injustices of his time.

As a teen, I reasoned that Martin’s message was palpable enough for most people in society. Therefore, when the white family who took me into their home later kicked me out during my senior year, I was allowed to hang a Martin poster in my children’s home room.

Still, I preferred Malcolm to Martin. Nonetheless, just as lyricist Nas recanted his former distaste for Martin’s stance, in the song “Letter to the King,” I later altered my views on Martin, as well. Nas stated:

Martin Luther, the martyr, the trooper, hate killed him. Nobel Peace Prize winner, they duplicate your feelin’. As a kid, I ain’t relate, really. I would say your Dream speech jokingly, till your words awoke in me. First, I thought you were passive, soft one who ass kissed. I was young, but honest, I was feelin’ Muhammad. I ain’t even know the strength you had to have to march. You was more than just talk, you the first real Braveheart.

Both of my parents were said to have been impacted by racism, Jim Crow laws, and racial segregation. My dad told me stories about how when Carver High School was subject to desegregation in 1967, he and others were unwillingly required to integrate into schools in which many other students didn’t want blacks.

Though my dad’s story isn’t mine to tell, I’ve heard from other people that there were many blacks and whites who didn’t desire integration. Malcolm’s early message reflected this sentiment.

Back then, I appreciated Malcolm’s statement, critical of Martin’s stance:

The government has failed us; you can’t deny that. Anytime you live in the twentieth century, 1964, and you walkin’ around here singing, “We Shall Overcome,” the government has failed us. This is part of what’s wrong with you—you do too much singing. Today it’s time to stop singing and start swinging. You can’t sing up on freedom, but you can swing up on some freedom.

One supposes that Malcolm was perceived as a threat to United States (U.S.) civility. Though perhaps undesirable to some of our nation’s members, Martin’s message of integrating with many of those who didn’t want him or other blacks was at least a peaceful aim.

As I continued to examine Malcolm’s rhetoric through my second graduate studies program—with plenty of evidence in the form of videos, audio files, speech transcripts, and books available for review—it occurred to me that hearsay about Malcolm’s alleged advocacy for violence was perhaps misinterpreted.

If supporting self-defense against a tyrannical oppressor—as one imagines Malcolm viewed his actions—is considered destructive or subversive, one reasons that it all depends on who is asked about what is or isn’t considered to be extreme or violent.

At one end of the spectrum, and when he was a member of the Nation of Islam (NOI), Malcolm appeared to advocate black nationalism—which included separatism, as well as support for intense self-protection measures. It’s understandable to conclude that some within the U.S. government may not have appreciated his perspective.

As a biracial individual, I disagreed with Malcolm’s perspective of white people being akin to “the devil.” Still, I rationalized that if I’d been subjected to the level of mistreatment he had up until the civil rights era, I may have drawn similar conclusions.

At the other end of the spectrum were those who advocated white supremacy, oppression, and maintaining a system of dominance whereby second-class citizenship was a well-understood arrangement. It’s understandable to reason that Malcolm rejected this agenda.

However, after returning from the Hajj (annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia) in 1963, Malcolm was said to have stated:

There were tens of thousands of pilgrims, from all over the world. They were of all colors, from blue-eyed blondes to black-skinned Africans. But we were all participating in the same ritual, displaying a spirit of unity and brotherhood that my experiences in America had led me to believe never could exist between the white and the non-white. America needs to understand Islam because this is the one religion that erases from its society the race problem. You may be shocked by these words coming from me. But on this pilgrimage, what I have seen, and experienced, has forced me to rearrange much of my thought-patterns previously held.

Between the two ends of the spectrum, Malcolm settled in the middle. However, he remained in the middle of controversy until his assassination in 1965. Even after his death, the details of Malcolm’s demise remain widely disputed.

While I’ve heard many people who apparently know only of Malcolm’s “by any means necessary” quote grossly misapply it (e.g., I gotta’ get these news shoes by any means necessary), I wonder if they understand the inference.

By any means includes slaughtering the children of your opponent. It entails torture of your enemy. It relates to the utter annihilation of your opponent and without regard for human dignity.

That’s an extreme proposition I doubt most people are willing to adopt. To this day, I appreciate Malcolm’s ability to abandon his severe doctrine and change his mind according to Bayes’ theorem. Describing this process, one source states:

Assuming that your theory about something is true, ask yourself whether new evidence you encounter makes your theory more or less likely to be true. This does not mean you have to change your mind entirely about your theory. It might just mean that, given the new evidence, you are now more or less certain.

Even though it is strongly correlated with his death, Malcolm was willing to consider alternative evidence—even regarding the practice of his NOI-influenced faith—and adjust his assumptions. This is a strategy I use when practicing Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT).

As the years pass, I’ve changed my mind about a number of previously held beliefs. This helpful, healthy, and productive exercise in flexibility has led to much-needed personal growth.

Like Malcolm, I’ve learned to balance my rigid views with logic and reason in order to achieve middle ground. Now, I assist people in both my personal and professional life with learning how to do the same.

In Malcolm’s words

I think sharing with the reader what I learned about the evolution of Malcolm’s perspective may be useful. In Malcolm’s words, I present the following.

During a 1962 speech at the memorial for Ronald Stokes, Malcolm stated:

In the past, the greatest weapon the white man has had has been his ability to divide and conquer.

If I take my hand and slap you, you don’t even feel it. It might sting you, because these digits are separated. But all I have to do to put you back in your place is bring those digits together.

This rhetoric once resonated with me. Largely influenced by Malcolm’s teachings, it was in grad school for social work that I obtained a raised fist tattoo, which one source describes as:

[A] long-standing image of mixed meaning, often a symbol of political solidarity. It is also a common symbol of anti-fascism, socialism, communism, anarchism, and other revolutionary social movements. It can also represent a salute to express unity, strength, or resistance.

As I no longer support many aspects of neo-Marxism, of which Malcolm undoubtedly advocated, I find it interesting to hear expressed opinions from others about their projected meaning in relation to my tattoo. Some people hold strong beliefs about closed fist symbolism.

It’s worth noting that psychoanalysis and existentialism—both with which I remain familiar, and the latter continuing to serve as a partial foundation regarding my approach to psychotherapy—are said to be influenced by Marxism. I’m purposely not masking this detail.

All the same, I denounce Marxism and instead select those elements of existentialist practice which I deem least harmful to society. The reader may choose whether or not to label me accordingly.

In the same speech, Malcolm also expressed:

Who taught you to hate the texture of your hair? Who taught you to hate the color of your skin to such extent that you bleach to get like the white man? Who taught you to hate the shape of your nose and the shape of your lips? Who taught you to hate yourself from the top of your head to the soles of your feet? Who taught you to hate your own kind? Who taught you to hate the race that you belong to so much so that you don’t want to be around each other? No, before you come asking Mr. Muhammad does he teach hate, you should ask yourself who taught you to hate being what G-d made you.

Reader, imagine this position being spoken today. Malcolm’s neo-Marxist sociopolitical position in the ‘60s was a far Left perspective. However, the contemporary Left would undoubtedly characterize such sentiment as transphobic and hateful.

During a 1962 speech, Malcolm said:

I would like to make a few comments concerning the difference between the black revolution and the negro revolution. There’s a difference. Are they both the same? And if they’re not, what is the difference? What is the difference between a black revolution and a negro revolution? First, what is a revolution? Sometimes I’m inclined to believe that many of our people are using this word “revolution” loosely, without taking careful consideration [of] what this word actually means, and what its historic characteristics are. When you study the historic nature of revolutions, the motive of a revolution, the objective of a revolution, and the result of a revolution, and the methods used in a revolution, you may change words. You may devise another program. You may change your goal and you may change your mind.

Look at the American Revolution in 1776. That revolution was for what? For land. Why did they want land? Independence. How was it carried out? Bloodshed. Number one, it was based on land, the basis of independence. And the only way they could get it was bloodshed. The French Revolution — what was it based on? The land-less against the landlord. What was it for? Land. How did they get it? Bloodshed. Was no love lost; was no compromise; was no negotiation. I’m telling you, you don’t know what a revolution is. ‘Cause when you find out what it is you’ll get back in the alley; you’ll get out of the way. The Russian Revolution — what was it based on? Land. The land-less against the landlord. How did they bring it about? Bloodshed. You haven’t got a revolution that doesn’t involve bloodshed. And you’re afraid to bleed. I said you’re afraid to bleed.

As a former military member, Malcolm’s words resonated with me. I once reasoned that many people who enjoy U.S. freedom, liberty, and rights seem exceptionally unaware of how these elements are recognized, earned, or granted.

Moreover, I was once startled to learn how only 7 percent of the U.S. population served in the military, though so many people who fail to shoulder a rifle are seemingly quick to advocate trampling on these elements throughout the world—to include our own nation.

Still, I’ve heard the term “revolution” carelessly tossed around (e.g., a revolution of the mind). With so few people who appear afraid to bleed, I used to wonder who they thought would fight for their irresponsible should, must, and ought-type demands upon society.

I once disturbed myself with rigid expectations of how others must believe and behave. It was only when I began practicing unconditional acceptance that I was able to stop shoulding all over others and the world, and to live a more peaceful life—which occurred many years after familiarization with Malcolm’s rhetoric.

In the same speech, Malcolm expressed:

There was two kinds of slaves. There was the house negro and the field negro. The house negroes – they lived in the house with master, they dressed pretty good, they ate good ‘cause they ate his food — what he left. They lived in the attic or the basement, but still they lived near the master; and they loved their master more than the master loved himself. They would give their life to save the master’s house quicker than the master would. The house negro, if the master said, “We got a good house here,” the house negro would say, “Yeah, we got a good house here.” Whenever the master said “we,” he said “we.” That’s how you can tell a house negro.

If the master’s house caught on fire, the house negro would fight harder to put the blaze out than the master would. If the master got sick, the house negro would say, “What’s the matter, boss, we sick?” We sick! He identified himself with his master more than his master identified with himself. And if you came to the house negro and said, “Let’s run away, let’s escape, let’s separate,” the house negro would look at you and say, “Man, you crazy. What you mean, separate? Where is there a better house than this? Where can I wear better clothes than this? Where can I eat better food than this?” That was that house negro. In those days he was called a “house nigger.” And that’s what we call him today, ‘cause we’ve still got some house niggers running around here. This modern house negro loves his master. He wants to live near him. He’ll pay three times as much as the house is worth just to live near his master, and then brag about “I’m the only negro out here.” “I’m the only one on my job.” “I’m the only one in this school.” You’re nothing but a house negro. And if someone comes to you right now and says, “Let’s separate,” you say the same thing that the house negro said on the plantation. “What you mean, separate? From America? This good white man? Where you going to get a better job than you get here?” I mean, this is what you said. “I ain’t left nothing in Africa,” that’s what you said. Why, you left your mind in Africa.

On that same plantation, there was the field negro. The field negro — those were the masses. There were always more negroes in the field than there was negroes in the house. The negro in the field caught hell. He ate leftovers. In the house they ate high up on the hog. The negro in the field didn’t get nothing but what was left of the insides of the hog. They call ‘em “chitt’lings” nowadays. In those days they called them what they were: guts. That’s what you were — a gut-eater. And some of you all still gut-eaters.

The field negro was beaten from morning to night. He lived in a shack, in a hut; he wore old, castoff clothes. He hated his master. I say he hated his master. He was intelligent. That house negro loved his master. But that field negro — remember, they were in the majority, and they hated the master. When the house caught on fire, he didn’t try and put it out; that field negro prayed for a wind, for a breeze. When the master got sick, the field negro prayed that he’d die. If someone come to the field negro and said, “Let’s separate, let’s run,” he didn’t say “Where we going?” He’d say, “Any place is better than here.” You’ve got field negroes in America today. I’m a field negro. The masses are the field negroes. When they see this man’s house on fire, you don’t hear these little negroes talking about “our government is in trouble.” They say, “The government is in trouble.” Imagine a negro: “Our government”! I even heard one say “our astronauts.” They won’t even let him near the plant — and “our astronauts”! “Our Navy” — that’s a negro that’s out of his mind. That’s a negro that’s out of his mind.

Just as the slave master of that day used Tom, the house negro, to keep the field negroes in check, the same old slave master today has negroes who are nothing but modern Uncle Toms, 20th century Uncle Toms, to keep you and me in check, keep us under control, keep us passive and peaceful and nonviolent. That’s Tom making you nonviolent. It’s like when you go to the dentist, and the man’s going to take your tooth. You’re going to fight him when he starts pulling. So he squirts some stuff in your jaw called Novocain, to make you think they’re not doing anything to you. So you sit there and ‘cause you’ve got all of that Novocain in your jaw, you suffer peacefully. Blood running all down your jaw and you don’t know what’s happening. ‘Cause someone has taught you to suffer — peacefully.

It was around the time I was in high school that I most appreciated Malcolm’s differentiation between house and field servants. Though I appear white and maintain only one-third sub-Saharan African ancestry, my attitude was more aligned with what I imagined a person out in the field would believe.

In young adulthood, my late stepmom and I had many discussions about this matter and we both agreed that rather than suffering day in and day out, we could see ourselves burning down the plantation. Of course, one has no way of knowing what would or wouldn’t occur in such circumstances.

All the same, it was during the worldwide response to the COVID-19 pandemic that I found myself needing to actively practice REBT when observing behavior of many house-dwellers (i.e., those who supported their own oppression). As well, I continue to actively work on my irrational beliefs concerning this matter.

In the same speech, Malcolm suggested:

It’s just like when you’ve got some coffee that’s too black, which means it’s too strong. What do you do? You integrate it with cream, you make it weak. If you pour too much cream in it, you won’t even know you ever had coffee. It used to be hot, it becomes cool. It used to be strong, it becomes weak. It used to wake you up, now it’ll put you to sleep.

I know you don’t like what I’m saying, but I’m gonna’ tell you anyway.

When discussing the concept of “wokeness” with others, I essentially categorize it as the identified cause of death printed on the U.S. civil rights death certificate. Whereas Martin advocated integration and peace, Malcolm supported separation by any means necessary.

Though people may disagree with my characterization, I understand woke rhetoric to maintain that even with civil rights in place, identity-based disparities continue to exist. Judging a person by the content of one’s character supposedly doesn’t address unequal outcomes.

Therefore, Martin’s advocacy for civil rights is largely considered a failure. Now, I’m witnessing many people of varying races and ethnicities turning towards the separatist perspective of Malcolm’s early work—something with which I once agreed, though no longer can abide.

During a 1964 speech, Malcolm declared:

Whenever the negroes keep the Democrats in power, they’re keeping the Dixiecrats in power. Is this true? A vote for a Democrat is nothing but a vote for a Dixiecrat. I know you don’t like me saying that, but I...I’m not the kind of person who come[s] here to say what you like. I’m going to tell you the truth whether you like it or not.

There are two main points of appreciation I have regarding this quote. First, alignment with one political party over another, while failing to know the history of and current behavior relating to that party seems absurd to me.

Appointing people for presidential administration positions based on identity, instituting hiring policies on the basis of identity elsewhere in the U.S., pledging to offer aid to some racial groups over others, and supporting police reform that has questionable outcomes is the antithesis of the civil rights movement position on equality.

Second, I realize that many people throughout my life haven’t appreciated it when I’ve identified truth. Rather than acknowledging what merely is, they tend to favor what they think ought to be.

This is a violation of the is-ought problem—one cannot derive an ought from an is. For instance, I suspect a Democrat may say I ought not to criticize the political party, though I’m going to tell you the truth whether you like it or not.

In 1964, during an interview, Malcolm stated:

No negro leaders have fought for civil rights, they begged for civil rights. They have begged the white man for civil rights, they have begged the white man for freedom. Anytime you beg another man to set you free, you’ll never be free! Freedom is something that you have to do for yourselves, and until the American negro lets the white man know that we are really ready and willing to pay the price that is necessary for freedom, our people will always be walking around here as second-class citizens, or what you call 20th-century slaves […] the price of freedom is death!

Similar to Malcolm’s rhetoric relating to people being afraid to bleed, I’ve come to understand how little many of my fellow U.S. citizens understand about the price of freedom. It boggles the mind.

For those who remain clueless about the difference between positive and negative rights, how will they understand what it truly takes to acquire and maintain freedom and liberty—of which they know so little about? This is where unconditional other-acceptance allows me to keep from disturbing myself.

Though I may wish that people understood they don’t need to beg the government for inalienable rights, I no longer deceive myself by believing they must know such things. As such, I can shrug and say to myself, “Anytime you beg another man to let you reject an untested vaccine, you’ll never be free,” while continuing about my day.

In a 1964 speech, Malcolm articulated:

You get freedom by letting your enemy know that you’ll do anything to get your freedom; then you’ll get it. It’s the only way you’ll get it. When you get that kind of attitude, they’ll label you as a “crazy negro,” or they’ll call you a “crazy nigger”—they don’t say negro. Or they’ll call you an extremist or a subversive, or seditious, or a red or a radical. But when you stay radical long enough, and get enough people to be like you, you’ll get your freedom. So don’t you run around here trying to make friends with somebody who’s depriving you of your rights. They’re not your friends, no, they’re your enemies. Treat them like that and fight them, and you’ll get your freedom; and after you get your freedom, your enemy will respect you.

And we’ll respect you. And I say that with no hate. I don’t have hate in me. I have no hate at all. I don’t have any hate. I’ve got some sense. I’m not going to let somebody who hates me tell me to love him. I’m not that way out. And you, young as you are, and because you start thinking, you’re not going to do it either. The only time you’re going to get in that bag is if somebody puts you there. Somebody else, who doesn’t have your welfare at heart.

When my perspective was once steeped in the rhetoric of Malcolm, I thought in dichotomous terms. People were either good or bad, the world was either fair or not, there was either freedom or oppression, and society consisted of the haves and have-nots.

That sort of neo-Marxist hyperbole instilled within me a victimhood narrative. I couldn’t quite identify who, though I just knew—or so I thought—that someone, somewhere else, was the cause of my suffering.

Now, I use personal ownership to examine what role I play regarding unpleasant outcomes. After all, it’s irrational to blame others for my condition when not considering personal responsibility and accountability.

Had I told the Deric of yesteryear this message, he likely would have accused me of advocating oppression. Now, I understand that even if not fully to blame, I’ve always played some role in my reaction to unfavorable conditions.

For instance, REBT uses the ABC Model to demonstrate that it isn’t our circumstances which create our reactions to these events. Rather, what we believe about these situations is what creates unhelpful, unhealthy, and unproductive consequences.

Herein, I’ve mentioned that I was placed in a children’s home in seventh grade. This was partially due to socioeconomic issues and partly due to abuse and neglect. Let’s plug into the ABC Model a victimhood narrative representing my circumstance:

Action – In seventh grade, after witnessing my mother push my older sister’s head through a glass window, and subsequent to defending my sister, my mom placed me and my younger sister into a children’s home.

Belief – I believed about the placement, “Life isn’t fair! No mother should ever neglect her child this way or abuse the kids she claims to love. I can’t stand the hand I’ve been dealt!”

Consequence – Because of my unhelpful belief, I experienced sorrow for myself, anger towards my mom, fear about the future, and disgust regarding the past. These unpleasant emotions were accompanied by acting out behavior.

Rather than allowing my beliefs to influence my reaction to an event, I could have used unconditional life-acceptance (ULA). Fascinatingly, I find that people’s self-disturbing beliefs about unconditional acceptance keep them stuck in despair, because in life they rigidly require unreasonable conditions.

However, it simply isn’t true that life must be “fair.” Nor is it reasonable to demand that no mother should neglect or abuse her children, because neglectful and abusive mothers may disagree as they continue doing as they do.

Sure, I would have liked for my mom to love me without the presence of neglect and abuse. Nonetheless, what merely was didn’t have to reflect what I thought ought to have been.

In the previous statement, I italicized the is-ought problem words (i.e., “was” and “been”), as well as demanding terms (i.e., “have” and “ought”). Though I may wish for life to function in a different manner than it actually does, use of unhelpful conditions do not serve me well.

Likewise, as a child and when I told myself, “I can’t stand the hand I’ve been dealt,” it was never true that I couldn’t tolerate neglect and abuse. I didn’t have to like of love that I was mistreated by my mother, though I could tolerate her treatment—as indicated by my survival up through seventh grade.

It may be tempting for the reader to rebut this conclusion, stating, “But Deric, it’s illegal to neglect and abuse children, so you really shouldn’t have been subject to those conditions.” And yet, I was.

Offering a should, must, or ought statement to contest behavior of the past isn’t an exercise in ULA. Though factually correct—it is illegal to neglect and abuse children, people frequently break the law.

In the same manner, people oppress one another, exercise hateful behavior, use racist rhetoric, and treat others unjustly, neglectfully, and abusively. We don’t have to condemn the fact that these instances occur—demanding that they mustn’t be, when they unfortunately do take place.

One can undertake Malcolm-esque “bloodshed” retaliation for perceived wrongs. One may also use ULA. You have choices about how you respond, because the hero’s journey requires overcoming adversity, not succumbing to its effects.

Regarding his last speech in 1965, Malcolm said:

Brothers and sisters, let me tell you, I spend my time out there in the street with people, all kind of people, listening to what they have to say. And they’re dissatisfied, they’re disillusioned, they’re fed up, they’re getting to the point of frustration where they are beginning to feel: What do they have to lose? And when you get to that point you’re the type of person who can create a very dangerously explosive atmosphere. This is what’s happening in our neighborhood, to our people.

Here, Malcolm has effectively described a Belief-Consequence (B-C) connection. What people Believe about an Action is what results in a Consequence.

Grievously, people subscribe to an Action-Consequence (A-C) connection way of thinking. In this way, they mistakenly think that beCAUSE an Action occurs, a Consequence results.

Person X may say, “Injustice is experienced everyday [Action] and I’m fed up, because things shouldn’t be this way [Belief]!” As a result of this self-disturbing belief, the Consequence of a “dangerously explosive atmosphere” results, and person X has effectively used the B-C connection to create it.

In the same speech, Malcolm stated:

Our internal aim is to become immediately involved in a mass voter registration drive. But we don’t believe in voter registration without voter education. We believe that our people should be educated into the science of politics, so that they will know what a vote is for, and what a vote is supposed to produce, and also how to utilize this united voting power so that you can control the politics of your own community, and the politicians that represent that community. We’re for that.

And in that line we will work with all others, even civil rights groups, who are dedicated to increase the number of black registered voters in the South. The only area in which we differ with them is this: we don’t believe that young students should be sent into Mississippi, Alabama, and these other places without some kind of protection. So we will join in with them in their voter registration and help to train brothers in the arts that are necessary in this day and age to enable one to continue his existence upon this earth.

I say again that I’m not a racist, I don’t believe in any form of segregation or anything like that. I’m for the brotherhood of everybody, but I don’t believe in forcing brotherhood upon people who don’t want it. Long as we practice brotherhood among ourselves, and then others who want to practice brotherhood with us, we practice it with them also, we’re for that. But I don’t think that we should run around trying to love somebody who doesn’t love us.

It was during this pivotal speech that Malcolm declared to the world that he no longer opted to endorse segregation (separation). As well, he was at this point in history willing to unite with others—to include Martin—in pursuit of equality.

For an individual to alter his views regarding spiritual faith, change his sociopolitical tactics, and amend his rigid stance on association with those he once referred to as “20th century Uncle Toms” is a remarkable undertaking in personal growth.

It is for this reason that I continue to value the evolution of Malcolm’s perspective and actions, even though I denounce his previously-held radical notions. Malcolm eventually came to the middle ground, and this is what I appreciate.


In his song “Around My Way (Freedom Ain’t Free),” rapper Lupe Fiasco states:

Say that we should protest just to get arrested, that goes against all my hustling ethics. A bunch of jail niggas say it’s highly ineffective. Depart from Martin, connect on Malcolm X tip. Insert Baldwin to similar the separate. To me, the truth is more fulfilling than a meth hit.”

I, too, once departed from the wisdom of Martin Luther King Jr. Instead, I favored the radical ideology or Malcolm X. My advancement of Malcolm’s views lasted from adolescence into adulthood. I was a true believer.

Even so, and thanks in part to my practice of REBT, I’ve backed away from radical and rigid beliefs which I allowed to push me to the margins of civility. Just as Malcolm moved towards middle ground, maintaining more balanced views, and exercising centrism over radicalism, so, too, have I.

I suspect the average reader will bypass this blogpost altogether. Genuinely, I doubt it will be read in its entirety by anyone. However, in the event that you, dear reader, are a person who needed the words written herein, this entry is for you.

Have you found yourself intertwined with inflexible beliefs? Are the unhelpful, unhealthy, or unproductive consequences of your beliefs holding you back from personal growth? If so, I may be able to help.

If you’re looking for a provider who works to help you understand how thinking impacts physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral elements of your life, I invite you to reach out today by using the contact widget on my website.

As the world’s foremost old school hip hop REBT psychotherapist, I’m pleased to help people with an assortment of issues from anger (hostility, rage, and aggression) to relational issues, adjustment matters, trauma experience, justice involvement, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety and depression, and other mood or personality-related matters.

At Hollings Therapy, LLC, serving all of Texas, I aim to treat clients with dignity and respect while offering a multi-lensed approach to the practice of psychotherapy and life coaching. My mission includes: Prioritizing the cognitive and emotive needs of clients, an overall reduction in client suffering, and supporting sustainable growth for the clients I serve. Rather than simply helping you to feel better, I want to help you get better!

Deric Hollings, LPC, LCSW

Photo credit, Getty Images, fair use


1453malcolmx. (2012, February 29). Malcolm X - Stop singin and start swingin [Video]. YouTube. Retrieved from

Amarillo Globe-News. (2012, June 18). ‘Family’ reunion helps preserve school’s legacy. Retrieved from

Arrested Development. (2016, December 4). Arrested Development ‎– Fishin 4 Religion - 3 Years, 5 Months And 2 Days In The Life Of... [Video]. YouTube. Retrieved from

Bible Gateway. (n.d.). Matthew 5: 38-40 – New International Version. Retrieved from

Bible Gateway. (n.d.). Matthew 10:16 – New International Version. Retrieved from

Big Think. (n.d.). Knowing how to change your mind: A three minute guide to Bayesian reasoning. Retrieved from

Breitman, G. (1990). Malcolm X Speaks. Wheatland Corporation. Retrieved from

Eisenstat, J. (2021, November 29). The tribulations of the Internet age through a Neo-Freudian and Marxist lens. New York University. Retrieved from

Enriquez, A. (2021, October 25). Q. How does fair use work for book covers, album covers, and movie posters? Penn State. Retrieved from

Gaynor, G. K. (2022, December 29). What did the Biden-Harris administration do for black people in 2022? Yahoo! Retrieved from

Glass, A., Gruberg, S., and Medina, C. (2022, April 8). New opportunities for the Biden-Harris Administration to create good jobs for LGBTQI+ workers. The Center for American Progress. Retrieved from

GlidingSquares WAV. (2008, August 17). The Game - Letter to the King - LAX [dirty version] [Video]. YouTube. Retrieved from

Gordon-Reed, A. (2020, April 6). Martin, Malcolm and the fight for equality. The New York Times. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2022, August 26). AntiFACTser: A pandemic of the unFACTsinated. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2022, October 31). Demandingness. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2022, March 15). Disclaimer. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (n.d.). Hollings Therapy, LLC [Official website]. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2022, November 10). Labeling. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2022, December 9). Like it, love it, accept it. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2023, January 8). Logic and reason. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2022, December 2). Low frustration tolerance. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2022, November 12). Magic beans forgiveness. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2022, September 10). Oki-woke, Pinoke. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2023, April 11). On apologies. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2023, April 24). On truth. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2022, November 7). Personal ownership. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2023, March 20). Practice. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2022, March 25). Rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT). Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2022, November 1). Self-disturbance. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2022, October 7). Should, must, and ought. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2022, November 9). The ABC model. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2022, December 23). The A-C connection. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2022, December 25). The B-C connection. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2022, December 14). The is-ought problem. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2023, February 16). Tna. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2022, November 14). Touching a false dichotomy. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2022, July 11). Unconditional acceptance. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2023, March 11). Unconditional life-acceptance. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2023, February 25). Unconditional other-acceptance. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2022, November 25). Victimhood. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2023, March 14). Victimhood’s journey. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hseferi. (2012, February 21). Malcolm X – By any means necessary [Video]. YouTube. Retrieved from

Kamali, S. (2021, April 5). Malcolm X: Why el-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz matters. The Revealer. Retrieved from

Lupe Fiasco. (2012, June 27). Lupe Fiasco - Around My Way [Freedom Ain’t Free] [Video]. YouTube. Retrieved from

Malcolm X Channel, The. (2020, December 5). Malcolm X speaks at Ronald Stokes memorial rally in Los Angeles (1962) [Video]. YouTube. Retrieved from

Malcolms Disciples. (2017, March 15). Malcolm X : The price of freedom is death [Video]. YouTube. Retrieved from

Minter, A. (2022, December 1). Biden is still failing America’s black farmers. The Washington Post. Retrieved from

Npatou. (2017, June 7). Malcolm X’s legendary speech: “The ballot or the bullet” (annotations and subtitles) [Video]. YouTube. Retrieved from

Reelblack One. (2019, September 30). Malcolm X message to the grassroots | House negro/field negro [Video]. YouTube. Retrieved from

Satow, R. (2022, June 16). What is acting out? Psychology Today. Retrieved from

Sullivan, K. and Mucha, S. (2020, July 21). Joe Biden says he is considering four black women to be his running mate. CNN. Retrieved from

Teaching American History. (n.d.). A summing up: Louis Lomax interviews Malcolm X. Retrieved from

Thuon Jambaka Nyakwar Anuro. (2016, December 17). Malcolm X last speech (in Detroit Feb 14 1965) [Video]. YouTube. Retrieved from

United States Census Bureau. (n.d.). Veterans. Retrieved from

University of Idaho. (n.d.). An introduction to existentialism. Retrieved from

Wikipedia. (n.d.). April 1962. Retrieved from

Wikipedia. (n.d.). Arrested Development (group). Retrieved from

Wikipedia. (n.d.). Bayes’ theorem. Retrieved from

Wikipedia. (n.d.). Civil rights movement. Retrieved from

Wikipedia. (n.d.). Communist symbolism. Retrieved from

Wikipedia. (n.d.). Dixiecrat. Retrieved from

Wikipedia. (n.d.). Existentialism. Retrieved from

Wikipedia. (n.d.). Hate speech. Retrieved from

Wikipedia. (n.d.). James Baldwin. Retrieved from

Wikipedia. (n.d.). Jim Crow laws. Retrieved from

Wikipedia. (n.d.). Lupe Fiasco. Retrieved from

Wikipedia. (n.d.). Malcolm X. Retrieved from

Wikipedia. (n.d.). Martin Luther King Jr. Retrieved from

Wikipedia. (n.d.). Marxism. Retrieved from

Wikipedia. (n.d.). Nas. Retrieved from

Wikipedia. (n.d.). Nation of Islam. Retrieved from

Wikipedia. (n.d.). Neo-Marxism. Retrieved from

Wikipedia. (n.d.). Pacifism. Retrieved from

Wikipedia. (n.d.). Racial segregation in the United States. Retrieved from

Wikipedia. (n.d.). Raised fist. Retrieved from

Wikipedia. (n.d.). Speech (rapper). Retrieved from

Wikipedia. (n.d.). Transphobia. Retrieved from

X, M. and Haley, A. (1999). The Autobiography of Malcolm X. Ballantine Books [p. 346]. ISBN 978-0-345-35068-8. Retrieved from

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page