Thursday, November 2, 2006     « Esquire Barbershop: San Francisco »


The sign in the corner of the window is this.

I found this yesterday at the women's bookstore where I bought my next read, "Killing Rage: Ending Racism" by bell hooks.

I am just finishing up "The Autobiography of Malcolm X" and "The Last Year of Malcolm X: The Evolution of a Revolutionary." I suggest reading them together because the second critiques the first.

Reading these texts has been inspiring which might surprise some people. I respect that he was both uncompromising and willing to admit when he was wrong. That he tried to live with integrity and commitment, yet wasn't afraid to reveal his shortcomings. These balances are tough to achieve but I am learning and trying to keep them as a priority in my own small way even as I fail.

And I am angry. And I appreciate anyone who is willing to stand up and say that anger is valuable. I find so often around me people who just want to be nice and be liked. I often wonder what they are holding back. I believe in anger. I was very shy and compliant when I was a kid but inside there was still some anger that I could reach into and grab when I needed it. Anger saved me and is continuing to help me now even though I fight it like crazy. Because I also want to be liked. But I also want to be seen as a whole person and understood as a whole person. The nice, compliant me isn't really me at all.

Added: I got an email about this post that made me realize that I have not been clear enough in how I define anger. I will admit that I am not always certain what it is or how to engage in a healthy expression of anger but I am not talking about violence. I don't think the two have to go hand-in-hand. And I should add that I don't think Malcolm X's intention was to preach violence either. However anger can be a fire that both ignites action and keeps it fueled. Anger + Action does not have to equal violence. And then again there are different kinds of violence too. Some abusive and some a venting of repressed anger. Some is defensive and self-protective. But I'm not talking about violence or abuse. I'm talking about anger. Here is a relevant quote:

    "They called me "the angriest Negro in America." I wouldn't deny that charge. I spoke exactly as I felt. "I believe in anger. The Bible says there is a time for anger." They called me "a teacher, a formentor of violence." I would say point blank, "That is a lie. I'm not for wanton violence, I'm for justice.""

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