Malcolm X: A Color Struggle Essay

It has been about 35 old ages since the blackwash of Malcolm X. yet the stature of the adult male remains in tact. if non even greater today. His war against the white constitution evolved from interior demands merely as he had rebelled against symbols of authorization early in his life. It was this early rebellion and the stages that followed. that enabled him to accommodate to his ulterior environment. Malcolm X coped with painful ordeals by burying them or retrieving them in a brighter manner. He wanted felicity and love. but kept himself from it. and he frequently defied the very individuals from whom he was seeking blessing. He defended his people and helped them understand that inkiness is non a mark of shame but a symbol of pride. However. throughout his life Malcolm had many issues with his ain colour and the pride he would take in himself.

Malcolm X. born Malcolm Little was the 7th kid. ( three from a old matrimony ) . of Reverend Earl Little. a marked curate and dedicated organiser for the Universal Negro Improvement Association. and the 4th kid of Louisa. a indigen of the Caribbean island of Grenada. When he was born his male parent wired his parents. ” It’s a male child. but he’s white. merely like mamma. ” ( Bruce Perry. 11 ) Malcolm’s skin colour was an obstruction from his really first breath. His eyes were bluish green. his hair was platinum-blonde. and his tegument visible radiation in colour. His paternal grandma was appalled at his visual aspect. as it reminded her of the white blood in her venas. His gramps wept and declared that no albino would be named after him.

Because of the great accent placed on his physical features by his parents and siblings. Malcolm was really witting of his just tegument. He was paraded by his male parent as his visible radiation skinned pride and joy. His female parent. who was besides in struggle about skin colour. would tout about Black pride. but in Malcolm’s eyes appeared to prefer friends and relations of lighter skin color. Louisa was so light skinned that she was frequently mistaken for white. She would at times attempt to scour Malcolm’s face and cervix to seek and do him about look white. His male parent would frequently crush the older kids. but Malcolm seemed to be spared the ferociousness. He attributed this to his light tegument colour. Although his female parent administered most of Malcolm’s whippings. her ambivalency toward his tegument colour was obvious. The favouritism by his male parent and the attitude refering his tegument colour by his female parent bred bitterness by his brothers and sisters.

Malcolm. on the other manus. envied the other kids because he felt they were favored over him. particularly by his female parent. There were frequently battles between him and his brother Philbert. who besides attributed the animus to clamber colour. The actions of his parents led Malcolm to experience a grade of disapproval from both parents. It was at a really early age. in an attempt to deter his female parent from floging him. that he learned verbal protest could accomplish consequences.

In September of 1931. Malcolm came place from school to happen his parents reasoning. His male parent left in a fury and was later killed by a street auto streetcar. Although there was non much back uping grounds. Malcolm believed his male parent was killed by members of a white hate-group called the Black Legion. Malcolm claimed he had a foreboding. as did his female parent. about his father’s decease Malcolm’s female parent would work uneven occupations for Whites. who normally didn’t recognize she was black. and every bit shortly as they realized they would later fire her. Malcolm. now 10 old ages old. began embarking out more and more. He began stealing from shops and was introduced to chancing. By 12 old ages of age. Malcolm found himself in the first of what would be legion surrogate places. He remembers. when he was foremost removed from his place. his female parent stating to the province agent. ” Don’t allow them feed him any pig” ( Haley. 33 ) .

Malcolm was ambivalent to his mother’s remark. but would subsequently understand the significance. He could merely concentrate on the strivings he was fighting with. both internally and externally. During these times Malcolm’s lone interactions with Whites were negative and reminded him invariably that no affair what he or his female parent looked like. he was black. By 1939. his female parent. covering with the loss of her hubby. fiscal emphasis. and eventually a broken relationship with a adult male. had reached a point of non-responsiveness. suffered a terrible nervous dislocation. and was declared lawfully insane and committed to the province mental infirmary at Kalamazoo. Michigan.

Malcolm’s female parent had pushed her kids difficult academically. She demanded flawlessness. Malcolm found several of his simple school instructors to hold the same bossy features. He frequently had confrontations with instructors and principals. and his classs would endure. It wasn’t his mind. but his inattention to category work that caused this job. He frequently took on the function of category buffoon. and would contend ridicule with ridicule. Then. in the 2nd semester of his 7th class. he was elected category president. By this clip his classs were among the highest in the school. He stated in his autobiography when retrieving this episode. ” … . by so. I didn’t truly have much feeling about being a Negro. because I was seeking so hard. in every manner I could. to be white. Which is why I am passing much of my life today stating the American black adult male that he’s blowing his clip striving to ‘integrate. ’ I know from personal experience. I tried difficult plenty. ” ( Haley. p. 22 ) .

The following twelvemonth. in Malcolm’s eighth grade twelvemonth. an incident happened that would be the first major turning point in his life. One of his instructors. Mr. Ostrowski. asked if he had been giving any idea to a calling. Malcolm indicated he wanted to be attorney. Mr. Ostrowski replied. ” Malcolm. one of life’s first needs is for us to be realistic. Don’t misunderstand me. now. We all here like you. you know that. But you’ve got to be realistic about being a nigga. A lawyer–that’s no realistic end for a nigga. You need to believe about something you can be. You’re good with you hands–making things. Everybody admires your woodworking store work. Why don’ T you plan on woodworking. Peoples like you as a person–you’d acquire all sorts of work” ( Gallen. 83 ) . Once once more Malcolm’s inkiness was reiterated as a negative trait. He was temporarily convinced that the lone manner for him to acquire in front in life. and he goes on to do alterations to himself that would demo this apprehension.

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This bothered Malcolm enormously. His full attitude changed ; he abandoned his school assignment and became noncompliant and self-defeating. At the terminal of his eighth grade twelvemonth. Malcolm went to populate with his half sister. Ella. in Boston. Malcolm was fascinated with life in Boston. It was here that he felt at place. One of the first people he met was a cat named Shorty. who became one of the best friends he of all time had. Shorty rapidly introduced Malcolm to the life style of the large metropolis. Before long. he learned the hustle manner of making things. He began smoking marihuana and gaming. Then he bought his first zoot suit and got his hair conked so it would non look African. Shorty applied the mixture to Malcolm’s caput. and harmonizing to Malcolm his caput caught fire. However. with his hair now as smooth and directly as any white adult male. it was deserving the hurting. His hair turned bright ruddy. and he was now proud of his moniker ‘Red’ . Malcolm was blinded by the impression that he might be better off the whiter he looked and fell in love with the thought.

Over the following few old ages. Malcolm spent much of his life resiling around from occupation to occupation. continually hustling. and holding every bit much merriment as he could. He wound up in New York. a topographic point he had heard a batch about as he was turning up. Harlem was his sort of topographic point. He liked being around the regular sort of people and had no tolerance for the businessperson. He considered the businessperson to be the people who treated him as though his colour was a job and would forestall him from being what he wanted. He was happy with who he was and didn’t privation to be around anyone who tried to do him otherwise. Malcolm surrounded himself with people who looked past his colour. although he didn’t acknowledge it. and saw him for a black adult male who merely happened to be lighter than the remainder. He shortly felt comfy and allow the metropolis life get the best of him.

During his enchantment in Harlem Malcolm’s colour didn’t seem to come into drama. Everyone around him was black. or at least nonwhite. and his light tegument seemed to melt. He was scared that he would non be able to speak his manner out of the problem he had been doing and made a tally for it. His new enterprises besides downplayed his colour for they involved Whites and inkinesss likewise. or so he thought. Back in Boston. Malcolm now became involved in a new strategy ; house burglary.

He persuaded his friend Shorty and a white miss named Sophia. with whom Malcolm had a particular relationship. to fall in in on the bunco. There was besides Shorty’s friend Rudy. and Sophia’s sister. They meticulously planned their operation and went to work. They were rather successful for a piece. but finally were caught. Malcolm was sentenced to 10 old ages at Charlestown State Prison. Most Whites were sentenced to no more than two old ages for the same offense. But. he was black and involved with two white misss.

Malcolm felt as though he was sent to gaol for being black non for the offenses he committed. He rapidly recognized that his interactions with the white misss were considered a offense even though there were no official Torahs against them. It is in gaol that Malcolm begins to eventually look past his tegument colour and expression at the colour of his race. black.

He achieves the apprehension that the Whites are looking deeper than his tegument colour and seeing one thing. he isn’t white. no affair the colour his tegument or the straightness of his hair. After seeking to populate the same life style and a enchantment of hatred. Malcolm is shown the visible radiation and rapidly abandons his quest to be associated with Whites through his expressions and actions.

Initially. Malcolm continued the same life style. every bit much as anyone could in prison. as he had on the outside. As he recalls. of the seven old ages he served. when he tries to divide the first year-plus. “it runs all together in a memory of Myristica fragrans and other semi-drugs. cursing guards. throwing things out of my cell. balking in the lines. dropping my tray in the dining hall. declining to reply my number-claiming I forgot it-and things like that” ( Haley. 117 ) .

He preferred the purdah that this behaviour gained him. He would gait and expletive aloud to himself. with his chief marks of aggression being God and the Bible. His attitude was so antireligious. the work forces in his ward nicknamed him Satan. The first adult male of positive influence Malcolm met in prison was an inmate named Bimbi. It was Bimbi that ended his barbarous cussing onslaughts on the Bible and God. He besides told Malcolm that he had

encephalons and should utilize them. Bimbi encouraged Malcolm to take advantage of the correspondence classs and the library in prison. Within a twelvemonth. Malcolm was able to compose a decent and legible missive. and began taking Latin.

In 1948 he was transferred to Concord Prison. During his short stay at Concord. he received a missive from his brother Philbert. stating he had discovered the natural faith for the black adult male. He subsequently received a missive from another brother Reginald. stating him non to eat any more porc or smoke any more coffin nails. and he would demo him how to acquire out of prison.

Subsequently that twelvemonth Malcolm was transferred to the Norfolk. Massachusetts Prison Colony. which was an experimental rehab gaol. It was here that he learned approximately and became a portion of the Nation of Islam. Reginald. during a visit to Malcolm in prison. told him there’s a adult male who knows everything. God is a adult male. and his name is Allah. He went on to state him that the white adult male is the Satan. Malcolm idea of every white individual he had encountered. Whites who. from the start. touched in some manner. his or his family’s life. He was urged by his household to accept the instructions of The Honorable Elijah Muhammad. who they described to him as the Messenger of Allah. Malcolm wrote to Elijah Muhammad.

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He received a answer welcoming him into the true cognition. Malcolm began reading the lexicon in an attempt to broaden his cognition. He so started reading every thing he could acquire his custodies on. and more significantly understanding what he was reading. Much of his reading opened his eyes to how. historically. “the world’s white work forces had so acted like Satans. plundering and raping and hemorrhage and run outing the whole world’s colored people” ( Ibid. p. 167 ) .

In 1952. Malcolm wrote to his household and Elijah Muhammad that he was being paroled. Later that twelvemonth he was released from prison and moved to Detroit. Malcolm moved in with his brother. Wilfred. He found this to be a warm topographic point in comparing to prison. but particularly because of the Muslim ambiance. At his first Muslim meeting. Malcolm was enraptured. To see non-Christian-believing Negroes behaving in a wholly respectful mode was something new to him. He said he hadn’t dreamed of an ambiance where black people had learned to be proud to be black. They learned to love each other as black people and non be covetous or leery of each other.

Malcolm got the opportunity to run into Elijah Muhammad at a meeting in Chicago. and later that twenty-four hours. had dinner in the house of Mr. Muhammad. While in Chicago. Malcolm made official application for credence into the State of Islam. He was accepted. received the ‘X’ . of which the significance was that it symbolized the true African and replaced the white slave maestro name given to black slave households. The ‘X’ would stay until God returned and gave you a Holy Name from His really ain oral cavity.

Malcolm instantly began enrolling for the Nation of Islam. In a short period of clip he tripled the rank of the temple in which he was a member. and received congratulations from Mr. Muhammad. Mr. Muhammad was really interested in the potency of Malcolm X. and Malcolm worshiped him in return. Malcolm X shortly became interested in going a curate. He began turn toing the Temple. and in 1953. he was named the Temples figure one helper curate. Elijah Muhammad continued to learn Malcolm X in the ways of the Muslim beliefs and ways.

Of all the instructions of Mr. Muhammad. Malcolm X recalls one that stands out most in his head. One twenty-four hours. I remember. a soiled glass of H2O was on the counter and Mr. Muhammad put a clean glass of H2O beside it. “You want to cognize how to distribute my instructions? ” he said. and he pointed to the spectacless of H2O. “Don’t condemn if you see a individual has a soiled glass of H2O. ” he said. “just demo them the clean glass of H2O that you have. When they inspect it. you won’t have to state that yours is better” ( Ibid. p. 192 ) . Malcolm understood. but his love for a conflict didn’t allow him to ever follow this instruction. He wanted to allow you cognize if your glass of H2O was dirty.

Malcolm went on for the following few old ages distributing the instructions of Elijah Muhammad and recruiting. ‘fishing’ as they called it. to promote inkinesss to fall in the State of Islam. stating them about the alleged Christian white man’s offenses and edifying them about a faith for the black adult male. He was going more and more known and respected in the State of Islam. Mr. Muhammad sent Malcolm all over the state to get down new temples and enlarge the rank of the Muslim faith. His greatest challenge. in his head was “fishing” in New York metropolis. a metropolis of a million black people.

Through broken winds of negative media attending the State of Islam was brought even more into the spotlight. As the State of Islam was brought more into the spotlight. so was Malcolm X. Malcolm X had a manner of acquiring every bit much media attending as he wanted. He would publically do anti-white statements. yet behind the scenes he was rather gracious to Whites. He would frequently impeach the media of misquoting him. yet at the same clip he thrived off his bad repute. He was outspoken. and frequently invited to talk at colleges. such as Yale. Harvard. Boston University. and many others. despite merely holding completed the 8th class. When Malcolm X was asked what his alma mater was. he would answer. “Books! “

In November of 1963. when President Kennedy was assassinated. Mr. Muhammad asked Malcolm X take his topographic point at a talking battle in New York. When asked what he thought about the blackwash. Malcolm said he saw it as a instance of “the poulets coming place to roost” . For this statement. he was silenced by Mr. Muhammad for what was to be a period of 90 yearss. As Malcolm subsequently found out. this was merely the beginning of the terminal of his relationship with the State of Islam. Claims were made that direct orders for his decease was issued. and this was when he began his psychological divorce from the Nation. Malcolm X had been set up by the really adult male he would give his ain life to protect. Malcolm Ten now set out. cognizing he was a cardinal leader in the black battle for civil rights. to make an organisation. separate from the State of Islam. and ready to encompass all religions of black work forces. Many of the Nation’s followings broke with Mr. Muhammad and followed Malcolm X. He announced the forming of the organisation. and prepared himself for one more major event in his life ; a pilgrim’s journey to Mecca in 1964.

Malcolm X was treated with great award during the pilgrim’s journey. It was here that Malcolm began to change his mentality on the white adult male. He saw work forces with white skin colors who were truly brotherlike. Work force of all colourss. from many different states together in the Holy land. Malcolm thought that if the white Americans could accept the Oneness of God. that they might be able to accept the same feelings toward all work forces. He stated in a address. upon his return to the United States. “Yes. I have been convinced that some American Whites do desire to assist …… . And now that I am back in America. my attitude here refering white people has to be governed by what my black brothers and I experience here………” ( Ibid. p. 329 ) .

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It is during his trip to Mecca and upon his return place that Malcolm makes what will be his concluding passage of the colour issue. He learned to look past the colour of all work forces. from race to race or within his ain. Malcolm no longer saw himself as a leader for civil rights but human rights. He was now on a pursuit to convey the Black adult male up instead than convey Whites down. and equalize work forces of every colour along the manner. Malcolm now saw every adult male for a adult male. It was non until now that Malcolm realized that there should be no separation between work forces for any ground. He returned with the thought of looking past all qualities. from race to faith. and position to wellness. and even beyond foolish actions.

The attitude alteration of Malcolm X toward the white adult male contributed to his interruption with Elijah Muhammad. In add-on. was his turning uncertainty in the genuineness of Mr. Muhammad’s version of the Muslim religion–a thought that became more of a world as he gained more cognition and experience within the faith. Malcolm delivered several onslaughts on Elijah Muhammad. about his spiritual fakery and immorality. A roseola of decease menaces were telephoned to the constabulary to the household place. Malcolm X accused the Black Muslims stating that no 1 was more able to transport out this menace than that group. Malcolm. talking to a crowd at the Audubon Ballroom. February 15. 1965. said he was at the terminal of the line. He wouldn’t attention for himself. he merely didn’t desire his household harmed.

Malcolm X was killed a hebdomad subsequently at a public mass meeting at the Audubon Ballroom in Harlem. As he began turn toing the crowd. he was ab initio interrupted by person in the dorsum of the audience. Several seconds subsequently. several shootings were fired from person near the phase. and Malcolm X fell. Three work forces were tried and sentenced to life in prison. Elijah Muhammad denied any effort on Malcolm X. “Malcolm X fathered no statute law. He engineered no arresting Supreme Court triumphs or political runs. He scored no major electoral victory. Yet. because of the manner he articulated his followers’ grudges and choler. the impact he had upon the organic structure politic was tremendous. He mobilized black America’s dormant fury and set it to work politically. He made clear the monetary value that white America would hold to pay if it did non submit to black America’s legitimate demands. By transforming black frights into white frights. he irrevocably altered America’s political landscape. His ability to suppress his fear–and to animate his followings to suppress theirs–suited him unambiguously to his critical historical impact and place.

From birth to decease. the lone thing more of import in Malcolm’s life than his colour was his leading in Black America. This excessively was greatly influenced. Malcolm X was best known as the violent leader of the times. He was much more. He was a adult male who struggled with work forces of other races and those of his ain in a pursuit to specify himself. He ab initio was diffident as to whether or non his tegument colour was a job greater than his race and in many cases proved to be so. He witnessed his parents opposite actions towards him and noted that his light-skinned female parent seemed to hold a bigger job with him being similar in tone. His male parent was fair-skinned and seemed to prefer Malcolm over the darker skin color of the others.

During the in-between old ages of his short life Malcolm’s jobs came from being Black period. Malcolm had many jobs with this. He conked his hair to do him look closer to the Whites. whom he was holding the most jobs with. Malcolm struggled for old ages with this. First seeking to look white and so tie ining himself with Whites. to the point of dating a white miss. At this point. he acts as though he will be better off being white than trying to construct a better life for himself within the Black community.

The highest points in Malcolm life semen after he is accepted into the State of Islam and becomes about incognizant of his light tegument. He is full of Black Pride and wants to distribute this pride to every black adult male and adult female in the state. He ends up holding jobs with the Nation’s leader. Elijah Muhammad. and disassociates himself from him and his instructions. Malcolm’s greatest transition came after his trip to Mecca. He returned with a new mentality towards colour. It merely didn’t affair. He became an advocator for human rights and radius of this at every opportunity. After exceeding the colour barrier on all degrees. Malcolm was able to concentrate on more of import jobs. He still had great pride in his race and extremely disagreed with the actions of white America. but believed that repairing these jobs had to be done on higher degree.

It takes every adult male to look past race and colour and this would non go on anytime shortly. He did believe. nevertheless. that it was good past clip to get down. He was above all else when it came to pulling attending to society’s jobs. Every black and white that was tired of waiting for Dr. King’s inactive motion to take its toll decided to endorse Malcolm X by any agencies necessary. Ten was killed shortly after his return from Mecca but his ideals and rules were ne’er forgotten and used by many others. Malcolm proved to many critics that advancement could be made without direct usage of political relations and Torahs. but when fright is felt. actions will be taken to better the state of affairs. if merely to the point of understanding instead than satisfaction.

In the terminal. Malcolm had no internal battle with colour. he developed the ability to look far beyond and was able to utilize this alleviated tenseness to impart his attending to the planetary jobs that were happening.

Gallen. David and others. Malcolm As They Knew Him. New York: Carroll & A ; Graf Publishers. Inc. . 1992.

Haley. Alex. The Autobiography of Malcolm X. As Told to Alex Haley. New York: Ballantine Books. 1992

Ibid. Henry. Collection of Ideas and Speeches by Malcolm X. Atlanta: Clarity Press. .


Perry. Bruce. Malcolm. the Life of a Man Who Changed Black America. New York: Station Hill. 1991.