My Reading List (Autobiography of Malcolm X)

Okay this blog is going into so many directions.

I have this theory, that Black men must be well read in the effort to improve our condition. My recommendation for the reading list begins with “The Autobiography of Malcolm X”–or as most Black folks would call it, simply “The Autobiography”. Ask for it by that name, any Black man or woman worth his weight will know what you mean. I feel every Black man’s REAL education should start with Malcolm X’s Autobiography, and there are so many directions to go after that. But this book, out of all, was the most important and memorable for me. Malcolm’s story is one that the Black man as a people, in America, has undergone–that to understand him, we understand ourselves. He was a man who experienced the worst of racism as a child. His father was killed by racists, and forced into a life of despair and oppression and extreme sadness. As he grew up, because both smooth and charismatic, educated and well spoken, physically strong and angry. Then he finds himself in prison and is exposed to the teaching of the late Elijah Muhammad and his brand of religion that he called “Islam” (Not Islam, but a Black American version of it).

It didn’t end there. He grew as a “Black Muslim” and then became a “Muslim”. It was a powerful transformation.

malcolm-x-syracuse-universityHere is an excerpt from an interview used for the book:

“Everybody’s wondering why I’ve been going back and forth to Africa. Well, first I went to Mecca to get closer to the orthodox religion of Islam. I wanted firsthand views of the African leaders — their problems are inseparable from ours. The cords of bigotry and prejudice here can be cut with the same blade. We have to keep that blade sharp and share it with one another.” Now he was sounding like the old Malcolm: “Strangely enough, listening to leaders like Nasser, Ben Bella, and Nkrumah awakened me to the dangers of racism. I realized racism isn’t just a Black and white problem. It’s brought bloodbaths to about every nation on earth at one time or another.”

He stopped and remained silent for a few moments. “Brother,” he said finally, ”remember the time that white college girl came into the restaurant — the one who wanted to help the Muslims and the whites get together — and I told her there wasn’t a ghost of a chance and she went away crying?”

“Yes.”

“Well, I’ve lived to regret that incident. In many parts of the African continent I saw white students helping Black people. Something like this kills a lot of argument. I did many things as a [Black] Muslim that I’m sorry for now. I was a zombie then — like all [Black] Muslims — I was hypnotized, pointed in a certain direction and told to march. Well, I guess a man’s entitled to make a fool of himself if he’s ready to pay the cost. It cost me twelve years.”

“That was a bad scene, brother. The sickness and madness of those days — I’m glad to be free of them. It’s a time for martyrs now. And if I’m to be one, it will be in the cause of brotherhood. That’s the only thing that can save this country. I’ve learned it the hard way — but I’ve learned it. And that’s the significant thing.”

As we parted he laid his hand on my shoulder, looked into my eyes and said, “As-salaam-alaikum, brother.”

“And may peace be with you, Malcolm,” I answered.

(the speaker, btw, was Gordon Parks, who interviewed him)

I say this because Black men are in need of healing. We are passing down a trauma that was passed down from our fathers, passed from his father to him, and from his father to him. No one will help us cope but ourselves. The anger in the Black community is legitimate. We have been through hell and back and we still have one foot in the damn place. We are being victimized through this country’s laws and practices, the disdain of nearly every racial group to immigrate here, hell we’re so bad we even victimize each other! The cancer of violence and hatred has been injected into our community’s bloodstream and it spreads everywhere we look. You can’t educate out of it either. A black man can get a PhD and a 6 figure job, and a cop will still pull you over for no reason and want to brutalize you. Fuck it, you can be the President of the United States, and the drunkest dirt bag and uneducated fool in the trailer park will still call you a Nigger and a boy… from trailer trash to U.S. Senators–you’re just another Black man they would rather see suffer.

Oh and please don’t come at me with that “Talking about it opens old wounds” BS either. The wound hasn’t healed because we won’t talk about it. White men avoid it, and Black men are obsessed with it, and if you don’t treat a cancer what does it do to you? It spreads all over your body and invades every piece of you. And since this is a conversation that White folks don’t want to have, and Black people love to have–the least we can do is to be experts at it.

And we are. Black people are such experts at racism and race relations, that we know history your average high school history teacher has never heard of. We know of incidents, historical essays and books, techniques used to control the slaves and dominate, people, places and events–that White Americans don’t know and probably wouldn’t want to know. The sad thing is that because we know it and don’t know what to do with it, we are like the Incredible Hulk, with all this anger, all this strength and power with no place to channel it and no peers to understand it. In the end it becomes destructive. We destroy ourselves, our communities and our people, even our children. Like I said earlier, the way to control it is to educate ourselves in order to improve our condition. Once we understand it, we can then heal it, battle it, and then change it.

The White man has done what he did. He still has a race problem of his own, which is evident in how insecure he is with talking about race and his own history with us. If you understand him and why he is the way that he is, you will be able to deal with him and help him navigate through his own bullshit–even when he is unwilling to admit he has a problem. As a Black man–you have bullshit of your own. But you cannot fix it until you understand it, and to understand it as well as the cure–you will have to turn to the experts and read and learn. Start with the Autobiography. Then come back here and we’ll talk about it.

Black woman, I am speaking to you too. White man, ditto. White woman, ditto that.

And you Whites, Asians, Hispanics who have Black friends and/or Black mixed children–read it. You’ve got a lot to learn as well.

Thanks for visiting my blog.

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Filed under Message to the Black Man, Message to the White Man

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