Malcolm X's daughter speaks of life at home Make a difference, she tells audience

November 11, 1992|By Rafael Alvarez | Rafael Alvarez,Staff Writer

The oldest daughter of Malcolm X was in Baltimore last night to tell people about the kind of man her father -- one of the most controversial black leaders of his time -- was at home.

In her sold-out lecture at Baltimore City Community College, Attallah Shabazz also had plenty of advice for people of all races on how to better get along -- beginning with saying thank you to their parents.

"I am here because my father is not," said Ms. Shabazz, a writer and film director. "I would rather he be here, for you to hear and touch like the generation before you. I would just rather have a Pop, a Dad, period."

Malcolm X, once a national spokesman for the Nation of Islam before he broke with the sect, was assassinated in 1965. A movie about his life, directed by Spike Lee and anticipated with huge interest, opens Nov. 18.

"Make a difference yourself . . . don't always think you're consciously being victimized," Ms. Shabazz told the crowd of nearly 400, most of them black. "You all thought I was raised in a black house, watching black TV, eating black food and just being mad about being black."

Not so, she said.

Inside the family -- away from the lecture podium he used to preach black self-empowerment by any means necessary -- Malcolm X is remembered by Ms. Shabazz as a sweetheart.

"People can't imagine my father being romantic, being sensitive," she said, recalling stories of teasing love talk between her parents.

"He came home laughing. My father was a friend to me, a buddy, someone with whom you could share a secret. As a child I had no idea that outside my house people had a problem with brown [skin]," she said. "That outside people didn't want to be brown. When I went to first grade I had no idea what was out there because I wasn't taught about ugly."

What she was taught, Ms. Shabazz said, was about her own identity.

If the children of today were taught who they were -- or could somehow learn it for themselves -- they might be rid of negative images thrust on them by others, she said.

"I turned out all right, I know who I am . . . but in my household there was always some kind of continuous learning," she said.

"You can protest, demand, command and wish -- well, make a difference yourselves. Somebody else does not have to give it to you. It's not only a propagandist, genocidal approach [by the establishment] like we like to think. You're not always on the agenda; often they don't think of you at all."

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