Why Malcolm X rifle image still strikes a chord
On February 12th, all was going swell for Nicki Minaj.
“Real hip-hop lovers,” some pioneering writers from hip-hop’s golden ‘90s, were praise-tweeting her flow on her new single “Lookin’ A** Ni**a.” Likened to a rap version of TLC’s “No Scrubs,” the single was redemption in many folks’ eyes, a return, if you will, to her roots as a true rapper and not more commercial exploits that include her not-so-distant stint as an American Idol judge.
Kory Grow’s February 12 Rollingstone.com post, “Nicki Minaj pulls out the big guns for ‘Lookin Ass N—a’ clip,” celebrated her “machine-gun verses” as well as pointed out her firing on an unwanted male admirer with two guns in the accompanying video on WorldStarHipHop. She was returning to her gritty roots, some raved. With her song appearing on Young Money’s forthcoming compilation Rise of an Empire along with Lil Wayne and Drake, she was on fire but was in need of no water.
What a difference a day makes.
Facebook, Twitter, blogs, even The Wall Street Journal exploded when album art for the single was revealed featuring the iconic photo of Malcolm X holding a gun as he peeped beyond the curtains of his window for any sign of trouble.
Just like that, all the air that shot her sky high had dissipated. How could she not know that the n-word slapped on this piece of history, along with a video where she is scantily-clad, did not scream “I am Malcolm X!?”
But what of the iconic photo itself? When did it creep into our consciousness? Where did it come from? Most point to articles in Life and Ebony magazines.
“We want freedom by any means necessary,
We want justice by any means necessary,
We want equality by any means necessary.”
This iconic image is available as an 11×17 poster at Affordable And Historical Art
We see the image as representative of Malcolm’ s legal justification to protect himself and hist family after the bombing of his home in 1965.
Let’s use the Niki Minaj Malcolm X image Controversy as a moment too teach our young people who do not know the Malcolm X or the history of the Black Power Movement.
Rather than point fingers and criticize, why not take the proactive step and share our history with our young people.
Was Niki Minaj wrong for using this image, when by all account Malcolm himself, realizing the power of images, manipulated images for his own purpose? What do you think?