This one is in honor of Ron Karenga:

The other day a bunch of us were talking about whether Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton could win if he or she ran for President in the next race. (We have such politically-charged discussions over lunch... we're so socially conscious... insert eye-rolling emoticon here.)

Anyway, one of my unnamed friends who happens to be Black... and older than me... (I swear if you’re reading this, it’s not you… I must be talking about someone else… seriously… do you really think this person resembles you?... Never! This person is much more... La la la…) starts explaining why she doesn't think she'll ever live to see a Black man become president – that there are too many people who simply won’t accept this and if it did happen, she'd be concerned for his safety more so than any other politician. Then she starts giving all this historical perspective about the civil rights movement... blah blah blah… race relations are actually worse now than back in the 60s… blah blah blah (and let the record reflect that I’m only blah, blahing over this part because it’s not germane to the story)…

And she keeps referring to "back in the times of Malcolm Ten…" and "when Malcolm Ten was active..." And I’m thinking: wow, I don’t know my Black History as well as I thought I did. Who is Malcolm Ten?... , but she was older than me during the 60s and 70s and probably remembers better... but, wow, I really haven't ever heard of this dude before... Then suddenly, it occurs to me: she means "Malcolm X".

Am I just a dumb white girl or are there really people who refer to him as "Malcolm Ten"? (I am fully aware that the answer here could simply be: both.)

I just kept thinking: I know I haven't seen the Spike Lee movie, but I did read The Autobiography of Malcolm X when I was a kid and really into anything Alex Haley did.... when did I miss that?

In 1952, after his release from prison, Malcolm went to meet Elijah Muhammad in Chicago. It was soon after this that he changed his surname to "X". Malcolm explained the name by saying, The "X" is meant to symbolize the rejection of "slave-names" and the absence of an inherited African name to take its place. The "X" is also the brand that many slaves received on their upper arm. This rationale led many members of the Nation of Islam to change their surnames to X.
I remember hearing somewhere that Malcolm Little had a white ancestry somewhere back in his line, and used the X to refer to the nameless white man who raped his mother / grandmother / other female ancestor. I also remember hearing eventually that story was apocryphal. Perhaps it is, since I can't find anything about that now. But because I remember some teacher saying it, I would be willing to overlook that dubious origins of the story and accept that as an answer too.

But what I've never before heard - from anyone - is that the "X" was intended to mean "10". Despite one news anchor's statement to the contrary that I found. Anyone care to enlighten me? How did I miss this in school? Maybe Black History Month should not be the shortest month of the year.

Happy Kwanzaa to you and yours!