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Autobiography of Malcolm X

Jun 10, 2019 | 0 comments

Jun 10, 2019 | Essays | 0 comments

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The Autobiography of Malcolm X as told by Alex Harley



Malcolm X is one of the most significant figures in the history of America. Based on his interviews with Malcolm X, Alex Harley, in his work “The Autobiography of Malcolm X” writes about the days of Little Malcolm, later Malcolm X, and afterward El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz. The civil rights activist, Muslim leader, and anti-integrationist recounts his life story from childhood to his transition to a Muslim leader. Once referring to himself as “the angriest Black man in America”, Malcolm X talks about how he came to appreciate the brotherhood of all humankind after converting to Islam. It is his tenacity and intellect that got him out of prison and propelled him to be the extraordinary figure the world now sees him as.

Reflection of the Autobiography

Reading this book would make one rethink the general belief: that Malcolm X was just a radical racist whose main aim was to get rid of all whites. This autobiography is an eye-opener to how the inherent racial discrimination in America operates and shapes those it is directed to; Blacks. Understanding that racism exists and sympathizing with its victims is one thing, but it is another thing to see it through their eyes. Experiencing a lot of hardships as a child-his father’s death and institutionalization of his mother-Malcolm X was forced to use his wits to live as a hustler and a thief (Malcolm, 2015). As he states, he was raised in the “tolerant” North where he battled not with mass killers and Jim Crow laws, but with the “death-by-a-thousand-cuts” type of racial discrimination (Malcolm, 2015). I believe that this is the kind of racism that makes up the mainstream dynamic between African Americans and whites in America.

His thirst for wisdom is one trait I admired about Malcolm X. He is a great example of how self-education can be efficient and transformative at the same time. He says, “I have often reflected upon the new vistas that reading opened to me. I knew right there, in prison, that reading had changed forever the course of my life. As I see it today, the ability to read awoke inside me some long dormant craving to be mentally alive” (Gillespie, 2010). Living the hood-life where he was forced to be a hustler and a thief, it was not long before imprisonment caught up with him. In human behavior. In her quote, “…the mind shapes itself to the body, and, roaming round its gilt cage, only seeks to adorn its prison, he did not serve time as time served him while in there. His brother introduced him to Islam and he heeded to one of the religion’s fundamental requirements: to read.

In as much as embracing peace and non-violence is advocated as the best way to address issues, I believe there is no need for created the need to ensure production of safe, quality and healthy products based on predetermined standards as indicated by Jaffee (2000). freedom of speech if one is not willing to listen to contrary opinions. I agree with Malcolm X’s ideology; that sometimes to get what you want, you need to make some noise (Gillespie, 2010). It is interesting how he was unapologetic about his views; condemning the demeaning “equality” of the North as ruthlessly as the transparent inequity of the South, occasionally being regretful of his words but never retracting them (Malcolm, 2015). It is inspiring how well Malcolm X analyzed the race issue in America. It is amazing how eurocentrism is established in the world but people do not realize just how deep it is.

Also interesting about the biography is Malcolm X’s conversion from a born-Christian, to the Nation of Islam and finally becoming an ordinary Islamist. His account of his journey to Mecca was particularly helpful as it marked a complete change in his life (Cone,2012). Amazingly, while this biography is being written, Malcolm X is at a turning point in his life that is ridding him of his anger and hatred towards white people and leading him to recognize that it is the American culture he is supposed to fight and not the people (Marable, 2011). This is a life change that costs him everything including his life.

However, there are some parts of Malcolm X’s ideology that I do not quite resonate with; particularly his view about women which ironically denies their humanity. I get angered especially at seeing that Malcolm X views the female sex in the same way white people view Africans. It is especially sad when he says, “any country’s moral strength, or moral weakness, is quickly measurable by the street attire and attitude of women” (Marable, 2011). This is an objectification of women that is unfortunately still existent in some parts of the world today. Nonetheless, my disagreement with him in this aspect does not change my appreciation of his importance.


Malcolm X’s biography offers a chance to observe the various examples of human strength. As a young boy from a small family whose father died and mother got institutionalized, Malcolm X hustled and offered protection to his siblings. As a prisoner, he realized the vitality of education and he took up reading which turned him into a literal sponge for knowledge. Malcolm X’s life continues to be a cause for global controversy and awe, as we continue with the fight for human rights and equality.


Cone, J. H. (2012). Martin and Malcolm and America: A dream or a nightmare. Orbis Books.

Gillespie, A. (2010). Autobiography and identity: Malcolm X as author and hero.

Malcolm, X. (2015). The autobiography of Malcolm X. Ballantine Books.

Marable, M. (2011). Malcolm X: A life of reinvention. Penguin.

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