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The Autobiography of Malcolm X – A Haley

July 19, 2015

TAOMXHe was born Malcolm Little in Omaha, Nebraska, north‑western USA in 1925. Later, he changed his name to Malcolm X because he believed that Little had been the surname of a white slave‑owner. X stood for his unknown African name.

As a child, he developed an intense hatred of the white race from seeing how black people were treated and how the Ku Klux Klan harassed his father, Earl Little, a Baptist minister.

Aged six, Malcolm found his father deliberately run over by a tram, his skull crushed. Soon after, his Mother was declared mentally ill. The children were sent to live with different families.

With his ‘new’ family, Malcolm started to enjoy high school that, unlike some, was, multi-cultural. He was popular and achieved good grades until he began to realise the full implications of the lack of equality between black and white people, the norm in the USA at that time. When Malcolm said he’d like to be a lawyer, his teacher laughed. Successful blacks were waiters, caretakers and shoeshine boys then.

In 1940, Malcolm left, school, education incomplete, dreams shattered. Aged 15, he got involved with a dangerous group of friends. Before long he was carrying a gun, stealing and selling drugs.

 In 1946, he was caught robbing a jewellery shop. Malcolm was sentenced to eight years in prison, where he completed his education and joined the Nation of Islam, an offshoot of Islam

 In 1952, released from prison, Malcolm gave all his time to the Nation of Islam. He encouraged violence against white people (he called them ‘white devils’) as the way to end inequality. He had, in effect, become a racist.

TAOMX2 In 1961, he became disillusioned with the immoral behaviour of the leader of the Nation of Islam.

In April 1964, Malcolm X made his Hajj to Makkah. It had a dramatic effect on him and his attitude to people of different races, especially to white people. He changed his name to AI‑Hajj Malik El‑Shabazz and, as a letter he wrote while on Hajj shows, a much more profound change had come over him.

In June, he formed the Organisation of Afro‑American Unity. He publicly declared that he was not a racist and that he had been wrong to make generalisations about the white race.

He left the Nation of Islam.

On February 21, 1965 Malcolm X was assassinated by black Muslims.

Letter written by Malcolm X from Mecca: I have been blessed to visit the Holy City of Makkah. There were tens of thousands of pilgrims from all over the world. They were of all colours, from blue‑eyed blondes to black‑skinned Africans. But we were all participating in the same ritual, displaying a spirit, of unity and brotherhood that my experiences in America had led me to believe never could exist between the white and non‑white.

America needs to understand Islam because this is the one religion that erases from its society the race problem. Throughout travels in the Muslim world I have met, talked to, and even eaten with people who in America would be considered white ‑ but the white attitude was removed from their mind by the religion of Islam. I have never before seen sincere and true brotherhood practised by colours together, irrespective of their colour.

You may be shocked by these coming from me. But on this pilgrimage, what I have seen and experienced, has forced me to rearrange much of my thought-patterns previously held, and to toss aside come of my conclusions.

During the past eleven days here in the Muslim world, I have eaten from the same plate, drunk from the same glass, and slept on the same rug – while praying to the same God – with fellow Muslims, whose eyes were the bluest of Hue, whose hair was, the blondest of blond and whose skin was the whitest of white. And in the words and in the deeds of the white Muslims, I felt the came 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 behaviour, and the white from their attitude.

I could see from this, that perhaps if white Americans could accept the Oneness of God, then perhaps, too, they could accept in reality the. Oneness of Man ‑ and cease to measure., and hinder, and harm others ill terms of their ‘differences’ in colour.

All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of all the Worlds.

Sincerely

Ai‑Hajj Malik El‑Shabazz

(Malcolm X)

TAOMX3 Quotations:

Equality: You will have heard ‘equality’ mentioned many times already in your study of Islam. It is a key principle running through the religion, beginning with the account of the creation of humankind: the Qur’an speaks of a multitude of men and women being created from a single soul (Surah 4. 1). That people vary in colour and speak different languages is a sign of the power of Allah (Surah 30.22).

The meaning of this teaching is stated in the address Muhammad (pbuh) gave on his last pilgrimage:

‘All of you descend from Adam and Adam was made of earth. There is no superiority for an Arab over a non‑Arab nor for a non‑Arab over an Arab, neither for a white man over a black man nor a black man over a white man except the superiority gained through consciousness of God (taqwa). Indeed the noblest among you is the one who is most deeply conscious of God.’

When Muhammad came to Madinah ‘ tribal rivalry was making peaceful life impossible.

The ‘Constitution of Madinah’ established the basic principle that all Muslims are Muslims first and members of any tribe or racial group second. All are equal in the sight of Allah and should treat each other as members of one community ‑ ummah.

“The main thing you got to remember is that everything in the world is a hustle.”

“So early in my life, I had learned that if you want something, you had better make some noise.”

“Hence I have no mercy or compassion in me for a society that will crush people, and then penalize them for not being able to stand up under the weight.”

“The ability to read awoke inside of me some long dormant craving to be mentally alive.”

“Why am I as I am? To understand that of any person, his whole life, from
Birth must be reviewed. All of our experiences fuse into our personality. Everything that ever happened to us is an ingredient.”
“Children have a lesson adults should learn, to not be ashamed of failing, but to get up and try again. Most of us adults are so afraid, so cautious, so ‘safe,’ and therefore so shrinking and rigid and afraid that it is why so many humans fail. Most middle-aged adults have resigned themselves to failure.”
“And because I had been a hustler, I knew better than all whites knew, and better than nearly all of the black ‘leaders’ knew, that actually the most dangerous black man in America was the ghetto hustler. Why do I say this? The hustler, out there in the ghetto jungles, has less respect for the white power structure than any other Negro in North America. The ghetto hustler is internally restrained by nothing. He has no religion, no concept of morality, no civic responsibility, no fear–nothing. To survive, he is out there constantly preying upon others, probing for any human weakness like a ferret. The ghetto hustler is forever frustrated, restless, and anxious for some ‘action’. Whatever he undertakes, he commits himself to it fully, absolutely. What makes the ghetto hustler yet more dangerous is his ‘glamour’ image to the school-dropout youth in the ghetto.These ghetto teen-agers see the hell caught by their parents struggling to get somewhere, or see that they have given up struggling in the prejudiced, intolerant white man’s world. The ghetto teen-agers make up their own minds they would rather be like the hustlers whom they see dressed ‘sharp’ and flashing money and displaying no respect for anybody or anything. So the ghetto youth become attracted to the hustler worlds of dope, thievery, prostitution, and general crime and immorality.”

“In fact, once he is motivated no one can change more completely than the man who has been at the bottom. I call myself the best example of that.”

“Don’t condemn if you see a person has a dirty glass of water, just show them the clean glass of water that you have. When they inspect it, you won’t have to say that yours is better.” -said by Elijah Muhammad to Malcolm X”
“I’m sorry to say that the subject I most disliked was mathematics. I have thought about it. I think the reason was that mathematics leaves no room for argument. If you made a mistake, that was all there was to it.”
“I believe in recognizing every human being as a human being–neither white, black, brown, or red; and when you are dealing with humanity as a family there’s no question of integration or intermarriage. It’s just one human being marrying another human being or one human being living around and with another human being.”
“It is only after slavery and prison that the sweetest appreciation of freedom can come. ”
“Anytime you find someone more successful than you are, especially when you’re both engaged in the same business – you know they’re doing something that you aren’t.”
“I remember one night at Muzdalifa with nothing but the sky overhead I lay awake amid sleeping Muslim brothers and I learned that pilgrims from every land–every color, and class, and rank; high officials and the beggar alike–all snored in the same language.”
“One day, may we all meet together in the light of understanding.”
“Despite my firm convictions, I have been always a man who tries to face facts, and to accept the reality of life as new experience and new knowledge unfolds it. I have always kept an open mind, which is necessary to the flexibility that must go hand in hand with every form of intelligent search for truth.”
“I saw all races, all colors, blue eyed blonds to black skinned Africans in true brotherhood! In unity! Living as one! Worshiping as one! No segregationists, no liberals; they would not have known how to interpret the meaning of those words”

“We all like chicken”
“This was my first lesson about gambling: if you see somebody winning all the time, he isn’t gambling, he’s cheating. Later on in life, if I were continuously losing in any gambling situation, I would watch very closely.”
“I learned early that crying out in protest could accomplish things. My older brothers and sister had started to school when, sometimes, they would come in and ask for a buttered biscuit or something and my mother, impatiently, would tell them no. But I would cry out and make a fuss until I got what I wanted. I remember well how my mother asked me why I couldn’t be a nice boy like Wilfred; but I would think to myself that Wilfred, for being so nice and quiet, often stayed hungry. So early in life, I had learned that if you want something, you had better make some noise.”
“I imagine that one of the biggest troubles with colleges is there are too many distractions, too much panty-raiding, fraternities, and boola-boola and all of that.”
“When I am dead–I say it that way because from the things I know, I do not expect to live long enough to read this book in its finished form–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”. He will make use of me dead, as he has made use of me alive, as a convenient symbol, of “hatred”–and that will help him escape facing the truth that all I have been doing is holding up a mirror to reflect, to show, the history of unspeakable crimes that his race has committed against my race.”

“I certainly wasn’t seeking any degree, the way a college confers a status symbol upon its students. My homemade education gave me, with every additional book that I read, a little bit more sensitivity to the deafness, dumbness and blindness that was afflicting the black race in America. Not long ago, an English writer telephoned me, asking questions. One was, “What’s your alma mater?” I told him, “Books.”
“I Used the Word ‘Negro’ and I was Firmly Corrected”

“I’ve had enough of someone else’s propaganda… I’m for truth, no matter who tells it. I’m for justice, no matter who it is for or against. I’m a human being first and foremost, and as such I’m for whoever and whatever benefits humanity as a whole.”
“America is subsidizing what is left of the prestige and strength of the once mighty Britain. The sun has set forever on that monocled, pith-helmeted resident colonialist, sipping tea with his delicate lady in the non-white colonies being systematically robbed of every valuable resource. Britain’s superfluous royalty and nobility now exist by charging tourists to inspect the once baronial castles, and by selling memoirs, perfumes, autographs, titles, and even themselves.”
TAOMX4“I suppose that it was inevitable that my word-base broadened. I could now for the first time pick up a book and read and now begin to understand what the book was saying. Anyone who has read a great deal can imagine the new world that opened. Let me tell you something: from then until I left that prison, in every free moment I had, if I was not reading in the library, I was reading in my bunk. You couldn’t have gotten me out of my books with a wedge…Months passed without my even thinking about being imprisoned. In fact, up to then, I never had been so truly free in my life.”
“All I had done was to improve on their strategy, and it was the beginning of a very important lesson in life – that anytime you find someone more successful than you are, especially when you’re both engaged in the same business – you know they’re doing something that you aren’t.”
“Right now, in every big city ghetto, tens of thousands of yesterday’s and today’s school dropouts are keeping body and soul together by some form of hustling in the same way I did.”
“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. I certainly wasn’t seeking any degree, the way a college confers a status symbol upon its students. My home made education gave me, with every additional book that I read, a little bit more sensitivity to the deafness, dumbness, and blindness that was afflicting the black race in America. Not long ago, an English writer telephoned me from London asking questions. One was, “What’s your alma mater?” I told him, “Books.” You will never catch me with a free fifteen minutes in which I’m not studying something I feel might be able to help the black man.”
“I want to say before I go on that I have never previously told anyone my sordid past in detail. I haven’t done it now to sound as though I might be proud of how bad, how evil, I was.

But people are always speculating-why am I as I am? To understand that of any person, his whole life, from birth, must be reviewed. All of our experiences fuse into our personality. Everything that ever happened to us is an ingredient.

Today, when everything that I do has an urgency, I would not spend one hour in the preparation of a book which had the ambition to perhaps titillate some readers. But I am spending many hours
because the full story is the best way that I know to have it seen, and understood, that I had sunk to the very bottom of the American white man’s society when-soon now, in prison-I found Allah and the religion of Islam and it completely transformed my life.”
“The greatest miracle Christianity has achieved in America is that the black man in white Christian hands has not grown violent. It is a miracle that 22 million black people have not risen up against their oppressors – in which they would have been justified by all moral criteria, and even by the democratic tradition! It is a miracle that a nation of black people has so fervently continued to believe in a turn-the-other-cheek and heaven-for-you-after-you-die philosophy! It is a miracle that the American black people have remained a peaceful people, while catching all the centuries of hell that they have caught, here in white man’s heaven! The miracle is that the white man’s puppet Negro ‘leaders’, his preachers and the educated Negroes laden with degrees, and others who have been allowed to wax fat off their black poor brothers, have been able to hold the black masses quiet until now.”
“How is it possible to write one’s autobiography in a world so fast-changing as this?”
“I think that an objective reader may see how in the society to which I was exposed as a black youth here in America, for me to wind up in a prison was really just about inevitable. It happens to so many thousands of black youth.”
“Looking back, I think I really was at least slightly out of my mind. I viewed narcotics as most people regard food. I wore my guns as today I wear my neckties. Deep down, I actually believed that after living as fully as humanly possible, one should then die violently. I expected then, as I still expect today, to die at any time. But then, I think I deliberately invited death in many, sometimes insane, ways.”
“When the meat platter was passed to me, I didn’t even know what the meat was; usually, you couldn’t tell, anyway-but it was suddenly as though _don’t eat any more pork_ flashed on a screen before me.

I hesitated, with the platter in mid-air; then I passed it along to the inmate waiting next to me. He began serving himself; abruptly, he stopped. I remember him turning, looking surprised at me.

I said to him, “I don’t eat pork.”

The platter then kept on down the table.
It was the funniest thing, the reaction, and the way that it spread. In prison, where so little breaks the monotonous routine, the smallest thing causes a commotion of talk. It was being mentioned all over the cell block by night that Satan didn’t eat pork.”
“Then, holding my gun in his hand, he signaled. And out from where they had been concealed walked two other detectives. They’d had me covered. One false move, I’d have been dead.

I was going to have a long time in prison to think about that.

If I hadn’t been arrested right when I was, I could have been dead another way. Sophia’s husband’s friend had told her husband about me. And the husband had arrived that morning, and had gone to the apartment with a gun, looking for me. He was at the apartment just about when they took me to the precinct.

The detectives grilled me. They didn’t beat me. They didn’t even put a finger on me. And I knew it was because I hadn’t tried to kill the detective. They got my address from some papers they found on me. The girls soon were picked up. Shorty was pulled right off the bandstand that night. The girls also had implicated Rudy. To this day, I have always marveled at how Rudy, somehow, got the word, and I know he must have caught the first thing smoking out of Boston, and he got away. They never got him.

I have thought a thousand times, I guess, about how I so narrowly escaped death twice that day. That’s why I believe that everything is written.”
“I later heard somewhere, or read, that Malcolm X telephoned an apology to the reporter. But this was the kind of evidence which caused many close observers of the Malcolm X phenomenon to declare in absolute seriousness that he was the only Negro in America who could either start a race riot-or stop one. When I once quoted this to him, tacitly inviting his comment, he told me tartly, “I don’t know if I could start one. I don’t know if I’d want to stop one.”
“My feeling about in-laws was that they were outlaws.”
“Eventually my mother suffered a complete breakdown, and the court orders were finally signed. They took her to the State Mental Hospital at Kalamazoo. My mother remained in the same hospital at Kalamazoo for about 26 years.

My last visit, when I knew I would never come to see her again-there-was in 1952. I was twenty-seven. My brother Philbert had told me that on his last visit, she had recognized him somewhat. “In spots” he said.

But she didn’t recognize me at all.
She stared at me. She didn’t know who I was.
Her mind, when I tried to talk, to reach her, was somewhere else. I asked, “Mama, do you know what day it is?”
She said, staring, “All the people have gone.”

I can’t describe how I felt. The woman who had brought me into the world, and nursed me, and advised me, and chastised me, and loved me, didn’t know me.

It was as if I was trying to walk up the side of a hill of feathers.”

-Malcolm X, The Autobiography of Malcolm X”
“I actually believed that after living as fully as humanly possible, one should then die violently. I expected then as I still expect today”
“He said, one time, that no true leader burdened his followers with a greater load than they could carry, and no true leader sets too fast a pace for his follows to keep up.”
“you will never catch me with a free fifteen minutes in which I’m not studying something I feel might be able to help the black man.”
“The main thing you got to remember is that everything in the world is a hustle.”
“So early in my life, I had learned that if you want something, you had better make some noise.”
“Hence I have no mercy or compassion in me for a society that will crush people, and then penalize them for not being able to stand up under the weight.”
“The ability to read awoke inside of me some long dormant craving to be mentally alive.”
“Why am I as I am? To understand that of any person, his whole life, from
Birth must be reviewed. All of our experiences fuse into our personality. Everything that ever happened to us is an ingredient.”
“Children have a lesson adults should learn, to not be ashamed of failing, but to get up and try again. Most of us adults are so afraid, so cautious, so ‘safe,’ and therefore so shrinking and rigid and afraid that it is why so many humans fail. Most middle-aged adults have resigned themselves to failure.”
“And because I had been a hustler, I knew better than all whites knew, and better than nearly all of the black ‘leaders’ knew, that actually the most dangerous black man in America was the ghetto hustler. Why do I say this? The hustler, out there in the ghetto jungles, has less respect for the white power structure than any other Negro in North America. The ghetto hustler is internally restrained by nothing. He has no religion, no concept of morality, no civic responsibility, no fear–nothing. To survive, he is out there constantly preying upon others, probing for any human weakness like a ferret. The ghetto hustler is forever frustrated, restless, and anxious for some ‘action’. Whatever he undertakes, he commits himself to it fully, absolutely. What makes the ghetto hustler yet more dangerous is his ‘glamour’ image to the school-dropout youth in the ghetto.These ghetto teen-agers see the hell caught by their parents struggling to get somewhere, or see that they have given up struggling in the prejudiced, intolerant white man’s world. The ghetto teen-agers make up their own minds they would rather be like the hustlers whom they see dressed ‘sharp’ and flashing money and displaying no respect for anybody or anything. So the ghetto youth become attracted to the hustler worlds of dope, thievery, prostitution, and general crime and immorality.”
“In fact, once he is motivated no one can change more completely than the man who has been at the bottom. I call myself the best example of that.”
“Don’t condemn if you see a person has a dirty glass of water, just show them the clean glass of water that you have. When they inspect it, you won’t have to say that yours is better.”
-said by Elijah Muhammad to Malcolm X”
“I’m sorry to say that the subject I most disliked was mathematics. I have thought about it. I think the reason was that mathematics leaves no room for argument. If you made a mistake, that was all there was to it.”
“I believe in recognizing every human being as a human being–neither white, black, brown, or red; and when you are dealing with humanity as a family there’s no question of integration or intermarriage. It’s just one human being marrying another human being or one human being living around and with another human being.”
“It is only after slavery and prison that the sweetest appreciation of freedom can come. ”
“Anytime you find someone more successful than you are, especially when you’re both engaged in the same business – you know they’re doing something that you aren’t.”
“I remember one night at Muzdalifa with nothing but the sky overhead I lay awake amid sleeping Muslim brothers and I learned that pilgrims from every land–every color, and class, and rank; high officials and the beggar alike–all snored in the same language.”
“One day, may we all meet together in the light of understanding.”
“Despite my firm convictions, I have been always a man who tries to face facts, and to accept the reality of life as new experience and new knowledge unfolds it. I have always kept an open mind, which is necessary to the flexibility that must go hand in hand with every form of intelligent search for truth.”
“I learned early that crying out in protest could accomplish things. My older brothers and sister had started to school when, sometimes, they would come in and ask for a buttered biscuit or something and my mother, impatiently, would tell them no. But I would cry out and make a fuss until I got what I wanted. I remember well how my mother asked me why I couldn’t be a nice boy like Wilfred; but I would think to myself that Wilfred, for being so nice and quiet, often stayed hungry. So early in life, I had learned that if you want something, you had better make some noise.”
“I imagine that one of the biggest troubles with colleges is there are too many distractions, too much panty-raiding, fraternities, and boola-boola and all of that.”
Malcolm X, The Autobiography of Malcolm X

“When I am dead–I say it that way because from the things I know, I do not expect to live long enough to read this book in its finished form–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”. He will make use of me dead, as he has made use of me alive, as a convenient symbol, of “hatred”–and that will help him escape facing the truth that all I have been doing is holding up a mirror to reflect, to show, the history of unspeakable crimes that his race has committed against my race.”
Always, every now and then, I had given her a hard time, just to keep her in line. Every once in a while a woman seems to need, in fact wants this too.”
“You see, Islam is the only religion that gives both husband and wife a true understanding of what love is. The Western “love” concept, you take it apart, it really is lust. But love transcends just the physical. Love is disposition, behaviour, attitude, thoughts, likes, dislikes – these things make a beautiful woman, a beautiful wife. This is the beauty that never fades. You find in your Western civilisation that when a man’s wife’s physical beauty fails, she loses her attraction. But Islam teaches us to look into the woman, and teaches her to look into us.”

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