Interview with Sonia Sanchez

If you could give me a sense of the sexism, but also that you were not getting that off Malcolm.


Well what I remember, and what I know, ah, what Malcolm gave us, those people who sought him out, those people who came to hear him speak, ah, he gave me what I needed in order to move into another arena, into an arena that began to talk against oppression. So I did not, ah, receive the whole idea of, of a sexist message. Um, I do know that there, you know and I know that there was much sexism, ah, within the movement. But the point is that the message that, that he gave was a message that came out to men and women. And each one of us took that message and went on to do the work that needed to be done. I never, in a very real sense, allowed myself to be relegated, ah, or, if I, if people, if I saw people relegating me into an arena, I complained about it, and would say something about it. And, I think that most of the women who were involved with that movement, did it. I mean they would, ah, do things, like get coffee. Ah, and do stuff like that. But, at some point they recognized the fact of what they were doing. So, Malcolm's message was a message that came out to men and women. And, it did not say, "Now, woman you be this way." Ah, granted, he was, his message was like, quite often, like he'll say, "I want to say this to the men: be the men that I want you to be." But, and also, he made women feel like they were queens of the universe, whatever. But, it was a queen not in the sense set on a throne and did nothing. It was a queen that worked, a queen that taught, a queen that led. A queen that was very much involved with the movement, you see. So yea, you said, "Hey, I am pretty. Um, look at here, look at this, um, look at these big lips. Aren't they full? When you been kissed by these lips you know you been kissed by these lips, that's why they so full. Um, no one kisses like these lips kiss." I mean it was that kind of beauty, you see. And, if your nose was wide, yeah, your nose was wide, because simply that you could breath well in the summer time when it was hot, you see. And the hair was what it was, simply because, ah, you know, it jumped back when we went swimming, but you know, we could go swimming again. I mean all those things we began to integrate from his word. So, when he began to talk to us about our beauty, we understood that beauty, but it was not to relegate us in an arena that we got quiet and didn't say anything. I mean, my listening to Malcolm was like, "Here is, here are the words. Here's the message, now go forth and spread the message." And, that's what we did, ah, listening to him.