Malcolm X

Keeping X’s advice in mind, how would you assess the changes in his attitudes towards white people over the course of his entire life.
When Malcolm Little was born his family was assaulted physically and verbally by the white man. Malcolm’s father was murdered by white people when Malcolm was only a child. The treatment Malcolm received from the white people made him become bitter. Whites began telling his mother that she was crazy and even moved Malcolm out of his home to live with a white family. While living with this family Malcolm explains he felt that the whites were treating him like a pet, not a member of the family. With each new experience hatred toward the whites grew. As he made choices that led him down a path of violence, destruction, and eventually prison, he began to see that whites were what he called the problem with the negro society. Whites wanted the negro suppressed and they wanted to make a living on what money the negro did have. Malcolm, or “Red” as he was being called became a “hustler” making a living tricking individuals, selling drugs, and setting up seductive encounters for white customers and clients. After Malcolm was sent to jail, he was introduced to the Islam faith where the white man was called the devil for the treatment of the Negros. Malcolm began to understand that the plight in life the Negro experienced was due to the hand of the white who had “out of his devilish nature, had pillaged, murdered, raped, and exploited every race of man not white.” (165) Malcolm then joined the Islamic faith and his name was changed to Malcolm X to represent his true African roots. As he became one of the greatest leaders for recruiting blacks to the Nation of Islam, he preached vehemently that the whites were responsible for the problems of the negro. However, once Elijah Muhammad turned on Malcolm, he left the Nation of Islam according to the American interpretation. He then went on a Pilgrimage to Mecca where he learned that not all whites were evil, that in deed they could be brothers (371), that not all whites were racist ( 374), and that it was up to the negro to pull themselves away from the control of the whites since they had become accustomed to their provisions. (384)
2. How would you assess the changes in his attitudes toward other African Americans over the course of his entire life.
Malcolm was an African American who was very proud of his race. However, he associated best with the African Americans in the ghetto. His sister Ella tried desperately to have Malcolm integrate with the upper class African Americans but Malcolm continued to associate and live with those in the ghetto. (45) Malcolm became very frustrated at the attempts of African Americans to assimilate into the white society. He believed they were selling themselves out trying to belong. Malcolm was frustrated with the African American “integrations” as the people were willing to throw their money away to the white man. (117) After Malcolm became a part of the Nation of Islam, he began to believe the white man was the devil and that the African American race was the true race and they needed to be elevated. He preached of the evils that were done against the Negro in an attempt to have them convert to the Islamic religion. (222)
3. Was Malcolm X a racist? [You are allowed to pick any answer you like, as long as you cite evidence from the book to back it up.]
Malcolm X was a racist for a good part of his life. As he grew up he saw the deprivation caused by the white and he became very angry with them. He did not see any white as being worthy of a nice word or name. He saw them as evil and dangerous. He became convinced they were the devil (164) and that they were the downfall of the African American race. Malcolm blamed the whites for all the evil that was occurring and spoke frequently that the whites were responsible for the state of the African American. After the recruitment to the Nation of Islam, Malcolm refused to allow whites into the meetings, and stressed segregation from the whites instead of allowing the whites to continue to control the environment in which the African American lived. Some may say this is not racist, however, at this point in Malcolm’s life he was not willing to see that not all whites thought slavery and the deprivation the African Americans were experiencing were the direct result of all whites. (253)
However, at the end of Malcolm’s life after Elijah Muhammed turned on Malcolm he made the journey to Mecca where he was in the presence of all colors. He began to see that all people have value and under the right circumstances can live peaceably with each other for a common goal. He even claimed that “Orthodox Islam which had given me the insight and perspective to see that the black man and white men truly could be brothers.” (371) When Malcolm continued to push for segregation it was not so much to see the division in the races, but “in a competitive American society, how can there ever be any white-black solidarity before there is first some black solidarity?” (382) Malcolm was trying to prove that only when the African Americans begin to take care of themselves can they see themselves as a part of the whole, and not subservient to the white. He was pushing for the human race to become one. In one instance a white man asked Malcolm if he would shake hands with a white man and Malcolm responded “ I don’t mind shaking hands with human beings. Are you one?” (370) These statements show that over the course of Malcolm’s life he began to realize that all races and people have both good and bad and that it is not fair to classify a race as a whole group of people as evil.

3 Responses to “Malcolm X”
  1. Yet he still believed in separatism even at the end of his life. Was that racist?

  2. kjroberson says:

    Racism can be defined as against a group of people, I think Malcolm was a racist for much of his life, but at the end of it he began to realize that the only way the African Americans were going to be self sufficient was to segregate. I don’t think that is racist at the end of his life. His ideas and reasons for seperating definately changed as he lived life and had new experiences.

  3. bpgerler says:

    I don’t think he was a racist at the end of his life. I believe that the hatred he once fostered towards whites had left. He still believed that blacks and whites should be separate, but that they should still be working towards the same goal.

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