I was blessed to moderate a conversation with Malcolm X and Dr. Betty Shabazz’s daughter, Qubilah Shabazz, and Thomas Mohammed on what would have been Malcolm X’s 97th birthday.
It was such a powerful moment to listen to their stories that offered not only a history lesson but a different perspective on the man that was often misconstrued by the media.
To learn more about Malcolm X as a father, husband and mentor was not something many of us were privy to. His love for his family was paramount and his faith guided his decisions and leadership. In learning more about his daughter, I realized that all of us are born into situations that we don’t necessarily have any choice over.
To be the daughter of a man who was hated by so many at the time and to face the unrealistic expectations and judgments of others can be oppressive and even overwhelming. My interactions with Qubilah forced me to look at how this has been a challenge even in my own family.
Many of us are expected to be like our parents, siblings, other relatives, or friends. It isn’t fair but it happens. We all are dealt cards that we didn’t have a choice in choosing. Whether directly or indirectly, there are consequences that we suffer because of decisions (good or bad) others have made that impact our lives.
Sometimes we can change it and chart our courses. Other times, we are in response mode trying to find our way. Either situation comes with a cost. From the outside looking in, we fawn over what we see but we often have no idea the weight that others carry.
Our limited view causes us to admire, even envy. Yet if we truly understood the intricate details of the journeys people walk, we’d re-think our assumptions and desires.
I’ve learned that we do such a disservice to others by placing our assumptions upon them by viewing them through our own lenses. We expect everyone to experience the world in the same way we do, but that’s not realistic.
I remember being a college student and witnessing that many did not grow up as I did. They did not have the same values about money, cleanliness, or even time. College taught me a valuable lesson. Give people grace.
Everyone’s journey is different, and it isn’t my job to judge, correct or even shove my opinions down their throats. It’s my job to love and hopefully through my love and the way that I live, I can be a light for others. Hopefully, the love I not only express in words but demonstrate through my actions can be liberating.
We all struggle with several areas of our lives that need change, and I am baffled when people are fixated on changing others instead of focusing on being their best. I am in awe of the way Jesus knew the situations of those he healed. He knew their stories.
We lose so much energy and time trying to be God in people’s lives. Our judgement and expectations will not change them. If anything, it will make them more resistant and resolved in their stance.
What we can do is love, listen, learn, and seek God’s will to be the best person we can be. Instead of offering condemnation, Jesus offered hope and life. Let’s do the same.
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, `Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye,” Matthew 7: 1-5.