The daughter of Malcolm X angrily walked out of a National Public Radio interview after several questions arose about the new biography that claims her late father was bisexual or "gay for pay" in his early years.
Ilyasah Shabazz was a guest on Michel Martin's show "Tell Me More" on Wednesday. Martin asked about the revelations in Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention, written by Manning Marable, who was friends with Shabazz. Marable died April 1, only days before the book's release. Shabazz describes the claims as "sensational."
Transcript and audio interview HERE.
MARTIN: Forgive me, and I completely credit your perspective on this, but it is also the case that children often don't know the complete details of their parents' lives because it's not really their business.
SHABAZZ: It's not their business.
MARTIN: Particularly their interpersonal relationships. So is it possible that perhaps Dr. Marable had access to information that you did not? Or that was just uncomfortable for you to explore because...
SHABAZZ: Not at all. I mean, listen, I have a lot of friends who are gay. I have, you know, I hate to say, but some of my best friends are gay. OK? So, if my father experienced persons of the same sex before he became the icon Malcolm X, you know, then that would be his experience. But he would've spoken about it. And I think because there were so many other allegations, especially that my mother cheated on him with his best friend when he was in Africa.
Shabazz added: "If my father had these, you know, relationship with a man, if my mother had extramarital affairs, you know, I don't have a problem with accepting that my parents aren't perfect. They are human beings. But that is not the case."
The claims about Malcolm X's alleged sexuality are controversial and disputed. Malcolm X described an friend's relationship with an older, wealthy man in The Autobiography of Malcolm X. Marable and some contemporary scholars argue the relationship described in the third person was really him. The same-sex claims were first mentioned in the 1991 bio Malcolm: The Life of a Man Who Changed Black America by Bruce Perry. The research and scholarship of that book has been roundly criticized.
On a side note: Given the intense anti-gay culture of the Nation of Islam and Islam, and the cultural norms of the 1950s and 1960s, it does not seem likely that even if the claims were true, Malcolm X (or anyone else in his position) would publicly discuss a same-sex experience.
Read the transcript and listen to the audio interview HERE.
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