English 1st period, Level 5 Paper #2 Draft 2
December 13, 2011
“My First Conk” The Autobiography of Malcom X
The thesis of “My First Conk” by Malcolm X is the altering of one’s self to achieve acceptance in society. The first sentence indicates the underlying theme that supports the thesis, “Shorty soon decided that my hair was finally long enough to be conked.” This idea of someone else making a decision for the author brings up a theme of acceptance by society, compared to what an individual wants.” (pg.228) Changing one's look for acceptance by society it is more desired is due to a disregarding of one's morals and values based on lack of confidence which many of us may have. The idea of acceptance by society and the pressure to fit that definition, rather than defining oneself as an individual, is what pushes the plot in the story.
Malcolm X was a prominent member of both the Civil Rights and Black Pride movements, and believed in the individual strength of African Americans. The story of the conk autobiography is Malcolm’s review of how African-Americans have submitted to their white counterparts. Malcolm states “I had joined that multitude of Negro men and women in America who are brainwashed into believing that the black people are ‘inferior’- and the white people ‘superior’- that they will even violate and mutilate their
God-created bodies to try to look ‘pretty’ by white standards.” (pg. 290) Malcolm explained that even one as strong as he could succumb to the white “brainwashing”. "I'm speaking from a personal experience when I say that any black man who conks today, or any white-wigged black woman, that if they gave brains to their heads half as much attention to their hair, they would be a thousand times better off". (pg. 287) This illustrates how even the "poorest, most downtrodden" black men wanted to get a conk, ignoring their true heritage in order to gain approval with white Americans.
In his autobiography, he writes, “This was my first really big