Book Review: The Autobiography of Malcolm X

07 Jul

"The most important book I'll ever read..."-Spike Lee

For the first time in a long time I decided to read recreationally and heed the advice I gave readers (about educating ourselves) in my first post. Naturally intrigued by history and its protagonists, I am drawn to autobiographies. Hence I chose the Autobiography of Malcolm X as told to Alex Haley [many years before Roots].

This book is 497 pages of raw, honest, unfiltered, and inspiring accounts of one of America’s most intriguing and electrifying [black] men. It is full of anecdotes. Full of thought-provoking issues, and full of humor. It is a book I wish I read in college. Perhaps, I would have been just a tad more militant. Perhaps it was opportune for everyone else that I did not read it during college. I’m not sure if UT could have handled another The King’s Law. We had 2 dreadlocked brothers that preached Negro gospels every chance they got during my upperclassman days. The King’s Law and a more militant me would have definitely defecated on them. …But I digress.

Unlike the Spike Lee movie [very good film btw], the book familiarizes readers with many more of this civil rights icon’s direct thoughts and his true path to righteousness. Malcolm X’s take on the March on Washington was probably one of the funniest accounts of that historical day I have ever read [heard]. Anytime that day is discussed, it is described with vigor and hope. It is forever linked with speeches, co-existence, and unity. However, what X refers to as the ‘Farce on Washington’ is an enlightening take on that day, events leading up to it, and life after.

Throughout the entire book, there is not one mention of African Americans wearing suits and bow-ties selling bean pies. Often times, this is one of the images portrayed and associated to the Nation of Islam  (NOI) organization which Malcolm X initially belonged. He does however give a full detailed description of probably the most religiously asinine concept of “Yacuub’s Theory.” A theory used and preached by Elijah Muhammad to the struggling black masses gullible to any feasible reason as to why life for the “negro” was so inflicted with pain. Yacuub’s Theory is blasphemous in its own right, and certain ideologies of the NOI are inherently incompatible with true Islam. Two things the general population never seem to acknowledge about the NOI is: 1. Wallace D Fard, founder of the Nation of Islam, was a white man who believed himself to be God on Earth. 2. Many Nation of Islam traditions and practices incorporate Biblical customs and scripture. Both of these facts make the Nation of Islam neither orthodox Islam nor denominational Christianity, but an entity [of religious intellect] with a following.

True Muslims thank Brother X for clarifying and differentiating the characteristics of orthodox Islam and the NOI, the organization that brought him into prominence [and ultimately put him through torment]. I thank Brother X for scratching beyond the surface and seeking out truth beneath composed fabrications within the NOI’s infrastructure.

Reading this book is an experience like none other. With every chapter, the reader feels a little more connected to Malcolm X. He was a man of the people. Literally! From class president to earnest working drop-out to specialist in the dealings and workings of the underworld, back into leadership positions and dispersing of intellectual values to huddled masses. He captures us all. Everyone has a little Malcolm in them. And whether it’s the angry side that was fed up and let you know it, or the calm side that usually pushed all the right buttons when under pressure, readers will flip each page in anticipation.

Time Magazine chose this book as “One of the 10 Most Important Nonfiction books of the Century.” Without a doubt, I absolutely agree that this Alex Haley classic is worth that distinction in the literary world. This book is not just an autobiography. It is a true testament of perseverance. Malcolm X’s ability to overcome from the very bottom of the map is an excellent story the Afro-American youth can learn from in today’s modern society where there is access to more liberties. This book gives us as minorities no excuses in our innate quest for attaining success.



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