Earl & Louise Little Family

My family recently watched Spike Lee’s Malcolm X.  Malcolm Little was born on May 19, 1925 in Omaha, Nebraska.  His mother, Louise Norton Little, was a homemaker occupied with the family’s eight children.

Malcolm’s father was murdered in 1929 in Lansing Michigan.  Her children were split up and sent to various foster homes and orphanages.  Louise suffered an emotional breakdown several years after the death of her husband and was committed to a mental institution.

In Spike Lee’s movie, it appears as though the children were taken away soon after the father’s death because as a homemaker, Louise had no ability to provide for them and that loss subsequently caused her breakdown.  The movie shows a social worker telling her she can’t properly care for her children after an insurance company rejects financial compensation for his death.

Such an outcome would not be surprising because it happens many times that separating a child from their mother leaves a trauma that is very similar to post traumatic stress syndrome. It is a disorder linked to a traumatic event – characterized by being hyper vigilant, having flashbacks, emotional numbness, avoidance of stimuli associated with the trauma, difficulty sleeping, concentrating, persistent anxiety, etc.

It certainly was a moment in that long movie that got my own attention.

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