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Malcolm X

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Growing up at the beginning of the twentieth-century, Malcolm was well aware of racial differences. Discrimination against blacks was constantly impacting his life and the important people around him. White people had control and abused their power by treating blacks with very little respect. At a young age, Malcolm realized that there was no way to escape his black identity and he couldn't do anything to change the white person's racist attitude. Once Malcolm moved to Boston he was exposed to racism in a whole different light. He eventually got sent to prison, returning as a Muslim with a broader perspective on racism. Malcolm's understanding of racial identity changes throughout his life.

Malcolm's childhood was full of traumatic experiences, seeing himself as a victim of unfair discrimination. Hooded Klansmen burnt down his home in Lansing, Michigan, forcing his family to move into the country. When he was six, his father was attacked and brutally killed by a group called the white Black Legion. After this horrible innocent, their family was greatly scared. The insurance company, run by whites, refused to give his mother the policy money, leaving them poor and hungry. After a while, Malcolm's mom was sent to a mental institution and welfare agencies split him and his siblings up into different homes. The destruction of Malcolm's family proves to us that Malcolm's life was directly affected by white racists. "It's like the Negro in America seeing the white man win all the time. He's a professional gambler, he has all the cards and the odds stacked on his side, and he always dealt to our people from the bottom of the deck." (pg. 17) Malcolm was used to kids calling him "nigger" at school and he was fully aware that white people had power over him. He got excellent grades but his english teacher told him that his goal to be a lawyer was unrealistic for a black man. In Lansing, society imposed a very limited racial identity among blacks, giving Malcolm the idea that black people will always be less important than whites.

After eighth grade, Malcolm moved to Boston, Massachusetts with his half sister Ella. Moving out of Lansing really helped Malcolm experience life in a whole new setting. Discovering the underground world of hipsters, he was shocked to see so many black people and interracial couples. His friend Shorty introduced him to drugs, lindy-hopping and hustling. Malcolm then remade himself into the lawless image of the black hustler. He bought himself bright colored zuit suits and "conked" his hair straight. "This was my first really big step toward self-degradation: when I endured all of that pain, literally burning my flesh to have it look like a white man's hair. I had joined that multitude of Negro men and women in America who are brainwashed into believing that the black people are inferior and white people are superior --that they will even violate and mutate their God-created bodies to try and look pretty by white standards." (pg. 56) This act of "conking" one's hair is very degrading because it is imposing an image of shame for being black. Malcolm was very involved in his image, dating a white girl named Sophia for status. He used this relationship to escape his discriminate past by becoming a perpetrator of racism himself. Not dating Sophia out of love was a way for Malcolm to get revenge for the wrongs that white people had committed against him. While in Boston, he also recognizes the prejudice within the black community. He witnessed Negroes from Roxbury Hill imposing a judgmental attitude towards blacks who were in the lower class,



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