Malcolm X lived during a period in American history when racism and civil rights were at the forefront. This essay will explain what led to his views of racism in America and how his views changed. It will also explain why he embraced the Nation of Islam Muslim organization which works toward the change for the better of African Americans in an array of areas, including spiritual, financial, and social. I will argue why he left the Nation of Islam after he helped strengthen the Nation of Islam membership. Malcolm lost his father Earl Little when he was six years old.
Earl Little was viciously beaten by a white mob and run over by a trolley in Lansing, Michigan (Bloom, 2008). The death of his father divided his family. After the father’s death, Malcolm’s mother, Louise Little, struggled to raise him and his seven siblings. The pressure of trying to raise eight children on welfare and the horrific death of her husband, Louise Little eventually had a nervous breakdown and was ultimately institutionalized. Malcolm and his siblings were then separated and placed in orphanages.
For Malcolm, the role the state agency plays in breaking up his family became symbolic of how deeply racism is ingrained in society and its institutions. He stated “I truly believe that if ever a state social agency destroyed a family, it destroyed ours. We wanted and tried to stay together. Our home didn’t have to be destroyed. ” (Bloom, 2008). From this point racist social barriers and Malcolm’s own sense of rebellion threw Malcolm into the criminal world as he became partially, broken by imperialism (Wood, 1992).
The aforementioned encounters began molding Malcolm’s views on racism in America. As a youth Malcolm was sent to a detention home in Mason, Michigan the home was run by a white family the Swerlins. He had expected the worst due to his past experiences with whites but he was surprised to find that they were kind and generous. Malcolm then started feeling as though he was there mascot. The Swerlins and their friends would talk freely about “niggers,” using hurtful language, as though he wasn’t there. From here he went to another detention home.
Once he was released he went to go live with his sister Ella where he continued to hang around people who were a bad influence on him. It wasn’t before long Malcolm was back in jail his one last hustle with two white women and a friend landed him back in jail for burglary. “His court appointed lawyer was appalled to see white women being lured into crime by black men and told him he had no business messing around with white girls! ”(Helfer, 2006). While in prison Malcolm was introduced to the Nation of Islam (NOI) by his brother Reginald who visited him often.
During his time in prison he recalled all the white people he’d encountered. “In one way or another he felt they all used blacks to better their own lives leaving blacks living under the same or worse conditions as before”(Helfer, 2006). Malcolm began to read a variety of books morning and night, he felt that knowledge was the ammuniton needed to fight the battle against the white devil whom he blamed for his wasted years. Malcolm also developed a relationship with the Honorable Elijah Muhammad through mail correspondence.
After corresponding back and forth for a considerable length of time, Elijah Muhammad provided Malcolm with instructions of how he could enter into the Nation Of Islam. Malcolm commited himself whole heartedly to the Nation Of Islam and was welcomed into the brotherhood. “The teachings of the Nation of Islam that he receives in prison effect a further change in both Malcolm's character and his view of white people. He simultaneously abandons his wild past and embraces a systematic hatred of whites” (Bloom, 2008).
After his release from prison Malcolm continued to embrace the Nation of Islam which worked toward the improvement of African Americans in an array of areas including spiritual guidance, financial independence, and social skills. At this time Malcolm was given the X to replace his last name because Elijah Muhammad believed that Little was a slave name. Malcolm seen the Nation of Islam as a place that gave his life purpose and a sense of pride for African Americans. Soon after Malcolm’s last name changing he became a minister for the Nation of Islam.
He would become very well known for his eloquent speeches and his ability to persuade others. During the time of his ministry, some of Malcolm’s close friends were murdered at mosques in Louisiana and New York that were apparently raided by white police officers for no reason. These unjust and tragic events angered Malcolm. This tragic act caused Malcolm’s first disagreement with the Nation Of Islam, because he felt that the Nation Of Islam should defend itself more aggressively over this tragedy. After this, Malcolm began to question the beliefs and philosophy of the Nation of Islam.
His faith was soon crushed after he discovered that the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, whom he believed was a prophet, was secretly having relations with as many as six women whom were members of the Nation of Islam. Malcolm was so devastated by this deception and blatant hypocrisy he soon terminated his membership in the Nation Of Islam and founded the Muslim Mosque, Inc. After establishing his own Muslim organization, Malcolm took a pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia which changed his opinion about whites. Malcolm greatly expanded his views on race in America by integrating the wisdom he gained from his travel to Mecca.
The trip opened Malcolm’s eyes to see that Muslim’s come in all different races and genders. The trip proved life altering, as Malcolm met "blonde-haired, blued-eyed men I could call my brothers"(Wood, 1992). He returned to the United States with a new outlook on integration and a profound truth that all white people weren’t racist and evil people. After my research it validated my prior assumptions about Malcolm X himself being racist while under the teachings of Elijah Muhammad. His views changed about racism in America that he could also call a white man his brother as well as a black man.
He realized you should judge the individual not an entire race of people as a whole but only the individuals that display or encourage acts of racism. References Alkalimat, A. (1999). ed. , Malcolm X: A Research Site: University of Toledo and Twenty-first Century Books) http://www. brothermalcolm. net Bloom, H. (2008). Bloom’s Guides Comprehensive Research & Study Guides: Alex Haley’s The Autobiography of Malcolm X Hefler, A. (2006). A Graphic Biography Malcolm X Wood, J. (1992). Malcolm X In Our own Image