It seems like growing up everyone had to read the Autobiography of Malcolm X. I can honestly say I don’t remember reading this book in full as a child and I am kind of happy I didn’t because reading this autobiography as an adult is one of the most enthralling reading experiences I’ve ever had.
Through new adult lenses, I can understand Malcolm X beyond what the world and the media tried to portray him as (a hateful radical). I see that he spoke from a lens of truth.
Malcolm’s delivery was sometimes stong and he advocated and revered Elijah Muhammad as being some sort of prophet from God (which was a hard pill to swallow as a Christian reader). However, Malcolm X is a revolutionary figure in our history and he is often overshadowed by other political figures.
To be honest I had no intentions on reading this book. However, a few things led me to do so. For one, Kevin Powell, who wrote the Education of Kevin Powell, a book which I review in a previous post talks about this being the book that changed his life and is ultimately the reason why he wrote his own memoir. Malcolm X had the power over how his story was told, which is something that a lot of black men don’t have and Kevin Powell wanted to have that same power. Also while reading Ta-Neshi Coates book Between the World and Me which I will review some time in the future, it hit me that I wanted to read Malcolm X, so I stopped reading Coates and picked up Malcolm and boy am I happy I did. This book challenged me. It challenged the way I think and view the world, even today. It made me cry. It made me despise some of the examples of institutional racism that still exist, but it also equipped me to be a better me. I can’t be mediocre knowing that I come from a legacy of great, bold, and thought-provoking people.
What I love and respect most about this autobiography is Malcolm’s transparency. I love transparency from people when they’re sharing their stories. I love how unapologetic he is about his life and the mistakes that he’s made. He talks about his childhood, his ignorant teenage life in which he got perms to look more like the white man, dated white women, and did drugs. He also talks about the robberies that ultimately led him to jail. I love the transformation of Malcolm X. His life was filled with evolution from his makeshift education in jail, to his consciousness about the reality of the world, to his total reformation as a servant and minister in the Nation of Islam to even traveling the world and visiting the Mecca for the first time and how that experience transformed his life. Malcolm’s life is an ever-evolving journey and as a reader you feel as if you are on this journey with him. He is such a passionate and visual storyteller that you can almost see the events of his life unfold right before your eyes.
Reading Malcolm X as a Christian
Now, as I mentioned before, I am a Christian. I believe in Jesus Christ and this book was a hard read for me because of its conversations when it came to Christianity. I did not like the conversation over what color Jesus really is, that’s trivial stuff. I don’t love Jesus because of the color of his skin, I love Jesus because he committed the ultimate sacrifice for my life and saved me by dying on the cross for my sins. I also didn’t like that they made Christianity out to be a mockery but I understand why Malcolm X and the nation had to do this. It was their means of comprehending how so many hateful things done to black people and people all over the world including Indians, Asians, etc. could be justified by what the white man read in the bible; which proves people have been interpreting the bible in their own way for generations but that does not represent who Jesus Christ was and what he was set on this earth to accomplish and it hurts to see how many people were taken advantage of all in the name of religion. What I can’t ever support is not loving people regardless of their transgressions. I can’t sit here and say I hate anyone, that’s a terrible way to live. I love and embrace people of all colors, shapes, sizes, nuances and that’s just the way I choose to live my life.
So, since I believe this is my longest book review and I don’t always intend for my book reviews to be too long, I want to say that if you haven’t picked up Malcolm X since the 8th grade, do yourself a favor and pick it up now.
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