rating: 4 of 5 stars
-"I have given to this book so much of whatever time I have because I feel, and I hope, that if I honestly and fully tell my life's account, read objectively it might prove to be a testimony of some social value...I believe that it would be almost impossible to find anywhere in America a black man who has lived further down in the mud of human society than I have; or a black man who has been any more ignorant than I have been; or a black man who has suffered more anguish during his life than I have. But it is only after the deepest darkest that the greatest joy can come; it is only after slavery and prison that the sweetest appreciation of freedom can come. For the freedom of my 22 million black brothers and sisters here in America, I do believe that I have fought the best that I knew how, and the best that I could, with the shortcomings that I have had. I know that my shortcomings are many..." (p. 378-379)
I just finished reading this and it was a slow read. Not only because of the excellent, but deep, content; but because of small margins and small print. Anyways, what an excellent book. Reading about Malcolm's life growing up in the 30's and 40's, his hard times, his conversion to Black Muslim in prison and long dedication to that, and his final conversion to true Islam was an engaging eye-opener.
As a white man growing up in modern-day southern CA, this book presented ideas/lifestyles that I was aware of but had never experienced. Seeing the kind of life Afro-American's suffered through because of racism is really sad but important to know so we can learn from it.
Upon Malcolm's initial conversion to Elijah Muhammad's Nation of Islam, it was tough to read through his constant preaching of the "Devil White Man," though I can certainly understand where he was coming from (as I had just read where he was coming from).
Many only think of Malcolm X as a promoter of a violent resistance, whereas he never really participated in any violent activity. The skewed version of him as being a radical is in part due to the media's changing of his words and in part due to most of his live's preaching of the "Devil White Man." While some of his views were indeed radical, they were necessary. Though the ones that were over the top he later changed in his life.
For me, the book went from a good, instructional read, to an excellent story important for us all when Malcolm went to Mecca and found the true Islamic faith. Not only did he just encounter a renewed and expanded faith, he also discovered something he did not expect in Mecca: white Muslims and black Muslims (and all other colors of people) living in true brotherhood with no regard for color (or even a recognition of a difference in color).
From this point on he made a change in his life and creed. He no longer decried ALL men/women of white complexion to be devils, but had changed it to something completely different. Of this change he said: "That morning was when I first began to reappraise the 'white man.' It was when I first began to perceive that 'white man,' as commonly used, means complexion only secondarily; primarily it describes attitudes and actions. In America, 'white man' meant specific attitudes and actions toward the black man, and toward all other non-white men. But in the Muslim world, I had seen that men with white complexions were more genuinely brotherly than anyone else had ever been." (p.333-334)
Less than a year after his realization in Mecca and forthcoming change his life was cut short. The public never really accepted his modification of his beliefs to consider all as humans and acceptance of white complexioned men who did not follow the western-white-racism belief. His life was cut short just as he could of made even more dramatic change for equal rights for all.
Truly a compelling read and one that I would recommend to anyone interested in being a better person and valuing human life and brotherhood. There is truly only one race and that is the Human Race and we are all brother and sisters. May we remember that. There are no separate races, only melatonin count in our skin.
Now for some great quotes from Malcolm X:
-"...in the words and in the actions and in the deeds of the 'white' Muslims, I felt the same sincerity that I felt among the black African Muslims of Nigeria, Sudan, and Ghana. We were truly all the same (brothers)--because their belief in one God had removed the 'white' from their minds, the 'white' from their behavior, and the 'white' from their attitude." (p. 340)
-on John Griffin's book Black Like Me: "Well, if it was a frightening experience for him as nothing but a make-believe Negro for sixty days--then you think about what real Negroes in America have gone through fro four hundred years." (p. 347)
-"I said that both races, as human beings, had the obligation, the responsibility, of helping to correct America's human problem. The well-meaning white people, I said, had to combat,actively and directly, the racism in other white people. And the black people had to build within themselves much greater awareness that along with equal rights there had to be the bearing of equal responsibilities. I knew, better than most Negroes, how many white people truly wanted to see American racial problems solved. I knew that many whites were as frustrated as Negroes." (p. 375)
-"When I am dead...I want you to just watch and see if I'm not right in what I say: that the white man, in his press, is going to identify me with 'hate.'
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