Essay on Malcolm: Black People and Malcolm

Submitted By lguilford
Words: 2566
Pages: 11

Malcolm X’s understanding of racial identity has been a big reflection on his life as a child into adulthood which has made him become one of the greatest African American political leaders. As a child Malcolm’s father favored Malcolm for being lighter than the other children, but his mother gave him more hell for the same reason (Haley, 1964), Never the less, Malcolm considered that being light skinned was a status symbol, as was his red hair, when a comparison was mad to his brothers and sisters, who were much darker, he knew that he was from white-blood. His father was killed in a racial dispute and his mother could not support the family, so the Swerlins family who where white, raised Malcolm as they would any white son (Haley, 1964). Malcolm X wanted to fit in whenever possible, to integrate himself fully. “Because I was trying so, in every way I could, hard to be white” (Haley, 1964). When he was in the Seventh grade, Malcolm X did not think about being black. Malcolm was also one of the top three students in his grade. He did not think of being a Negro when he was elected class president. Malcolm X mentions pride in his accomplishments ad thought of himself as student and not a minority student whose career was chosen by the color of the skin not only was Malcolm class president of his seventh grade class, he played basketball in school during this time (Haley, 1964). When Malcolm was traveling with the basketball team and the audience would yell the harsh names such as “niggar”, “coon” and “rastus”, it did not seem to bother Malcolm much. When these vulgarities were spoken, Malcolm X said later in life, the Blacks were, “Brainwashed into believing it” (Haley, 1964). Malcolm’s experience with Boston forever changed his life. He had a sister, Ella Little, who lived in Boston as Malcolm was in the seventh grade. Ella was the first really proud woman he met, proud of being Black and proud of being a Little. Ella was a homeowner, a leader in Black society and was respected in the community. Malcolm’s exposure to Ella was his first time free of White society. Ella’s values went against the stereotype the dominant white culture had of black females. Although Malcolm considered himself a “Hick” at that time, he still found acceptance in the Black community and with his family (Haley, 1964) Malcolm’s restlessness with Mason, Michigan, his hometown, was apparent, many of his white associates noticed the change, including the Swerlins,. He became “increasingly restless and disturbed” (Haley, 1964). After his visit to Boston, he felt that he had truly been around his own kind for the first time. He felt accepted, like he never had been with the White community. I can see how as a young child how his visit with his sister finally opened his eyes to his own race and I feel here is where Malcolm starts to realize his racial identity as in color of skin but not really yet understanding the true meaning of that word. But this is when reality really sunk in when Malcolm told Haley a visit with a teacher while he was in eighth grade was a turning point in his life (Haley, 1964). Malcolm’s English teacher, asked him of his plans for the future. And since Malcolm was a top student, he said he might like to become a lawyer. His teacher stated to him “Malcolm, one of life’s first needs is for us to be realistic..You need to think about what you can be” (Haley, 1964) that was the moment when racism hit Malcolm with its full force for the first time. Malcolm recognized a difference between being smart, and being as intelligent as whites. This determination was based on the color of his skin. That day, Malcolm X was forever changed inside and he drew away from the white people. Malcolm X had become conscious of his differences of skin color. He stated, “Where nigger had slipped off my back before, now I stopped and looked at whoever said it” (Haley, 1964). He became uncomfortable in the city of Mason and the white family of the