Malcolm X, while ridiculing the pacifist tactics of the civil rights clergy in his legendary 1963 ‘Message to the Grassroots’ address, displayed his unmatched ability to take his rhetoric to the point of an obscenity – “if it’s a shame to (Rev. Albert Cleage) you KNOW what it is to me!” – and then circumlocute it with an oratorical finesse which implied it so forcibly as to erupt his audience into wild laughter and applause at the adroitness with which it was side-stepped. The sheer panache with which Malcolm got the expletive to project itself into the imaginations of his audience reposed in the way in which he deftly crafted the reasoning of his argument as it raced all the rhetorical way to the razor’s edge of indecency and, at the very last moment, was yanked back with a prowess and force that conveyed itself into the mind of the listener without his ever needing to utter it. Malcolm possessed a command of the English language that endowed his oratorical repertoire with the range and flexibility to suggest, imply, hint at or otherwise circumnavigate any expletive in a manner that embedded it in the listener’s psyche with greater explosive force than if it had actually been verbalised.
In his uncanny ability to ‘swear’ without his ever once resorting to any swear words, Malcolm X provides the exemplar in whose lexical footsteps our youth should tread for, in their repetitive spewing of Oedipal and other obscenities, these youngsters (and the Hip Hop artists they ape) have ‘gangsta-rapped’ themselves into a rhetorical brick wall and, with nowhere else to go, must now evolve an ‘inverse lexicon’ i.e. one which involves the implying, hinting at or veiled suggestion of what they now make explicit. Malcolm X was a man whose every word counted. He could thread each word through the eye of a needle with not a one of them idled nor a syllable wasted. A rap artist who can suggest the Oedipal Expletive (motherf****r) without its ever needing to escape his mouth should be the one to wear the crown. Not the microphone-wielding imbecile who bears the most bullet scars and relates how he avenged them in the most lurid and obscene minutiae. The pedigree of a rap recording should be judged on the artist’s ability to intimate or imply the most obscene expressions without their ever uttering them and will necessitate the augmentation of the artist’s terminological and imaginative vocabulary, and the creative elasticity with which it is exercised, in ways most presently can’t even begin to fathom.
#BecomeMalcolmX: Let this be OUR ‘Ice Bucket Challenge’. Strike a #MalcolmX pose to mark the 50th anniversary of the #MalcolmX Assassination – then NOMINATE your Facebook friends to take the #MalcolmXChallenge. And please don’t forget to SIGN and SHARE the #MalcolmX Petitions at the White House and Change.Org.