Malcolm X on the history of Black-American Surnames


This is not something I usually post about, but I was recently watching videos about Malcolm X (Japanese-language article) on Youtube after Martin Luther King Jr Day, and I really liked this particular video:

Apologies to English-language students who read this blog. This video probably is difficult to follow. However, it is very interesting.

Malcolm X talks about how his given surname, Little, is not his true name, and thus he rejected it. He used the name “X” because “X” means unknown (as in mathematics). The name “Little” was the name of his ancestors’ slave owner, and that his own ancestors’ names were stolen due to slavery.1 The moderator in this discussion seems somewhat confused and hostile toward Malcolm X, but it’s interesting how Malcolm X carefully answers all the questions, never loses his temper, and always a has a good response.

I don’t have much information about this video, but to me, it was pretty fascinating. Hope you enjoy too.

1 Once, years ago, while on the bus, I met an older black woman who had the same last name as me. When I said we had the same last name, we both realized why at the same time. Then I told her that I am really sorry for what my ancestors did, and she graciously accepted it. It was awkward, but I am glad I said it. After that, we had a nice conversation about my kids, etc, etc.

Sometimes, just being humble and saying sorry is the best thing to do. It may not change much, but it’s the right thing to do.

As the Fremen say in Dune: I must cleanse the way between us.


Author: Doug

A fellow who dwells upon the Pale Blue Dot who spends his days obsessing over things like Buddhism, KPop music, foreign languages, BSD UNIX and science fiction.

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