The lifestyle of Detroit Red, the name Malcolm adopts as a hustler, illuminates the moral decay plaguing the ghetto. Fresh from Michigan, young Malcolm Little quickly adopts zoot suits, slang, drugs, and gambling, showing how easy it is to be seduced by fast-paced nightlife. Earning the nickname “Detroit Red” for his bright red hair, he learns to conduct business and ruthlessly fend for himself, laying the ground for his later argument that living in the ghetto encourages deceit and destruction. Detroit Red has few ethical restraints but many social insights. His philosophy requires that he trust no one, know his enemy well, and carefully defend his public image. Detroit Red represents the fact that many black people struggle just to survive.
More characters from The Autobiography of Malcolm X