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The Autobiography of Malcolm X

Malcolm X & Alex Haley

Contents

Chapters Seventeen, Eighteen & Nineteen

page 2 of 2

Chapters Seventeen, Eighteen & Nineteen

Chapters Seventeen, Eighteen & Nineteen

Chapters Seventeen, Eighteen & Nineteen

Chapters Seventeen, Eighteen & Nineteen

Chapters Seventeen, Eighteen & Nineteen

Though Malcolm first espouses a worldwide view of racial oppression in this chapter, earlier sections of the autobiography hint that Malcolm will eventually relate the struggle of blacks in America to the struggles of other oppressed groups. For example, while describing his first impressions of New York City in Chapter Five, “Harlemite,” Malcolm traces the history of the Harlem ghetto as a place where minority racial groups have confined themselves. In seeing blacks as part of a series of American immigrant groups’ struggle to escape the ghetto, Malcolm relates racism against blacks to bias against Germans, Italians, Jews, and the Dutch. But Malcolm feels that prejudice against blacks, while similar to the prejudices against these other groups, is more deep-rooted and more difficult to remedy. He aligns the struggle of American blacks with the struggle of minorities in other countries because he believes that the political and economical problems of American blacks are more similar to the problems of blacks in other parts of the world than to those of other groups in America. Though ethnic minorities in America have had to fight prejudice, they have not suffered the same degree of oppression and subjugation as the many black peoples whom whites reduced to slavery.

The great change that Malcolm undergoes at the end of the autobiography parallels the change that he earlier undergoes in prison. In both cases, he abandons his radical views on race and broadens his perspective. His time in prison, during which he educates himself and converts to Islam, shows him the need to bring the struggle for equality to the black masses. After his release from prison, he no longer wants to get by for himself; rather, he wants blacks to unify and fight for their due as a people. Similarly, his time in the Middle East exposes him to new points of view and offers him new insight into how to resolve racial tensions. For example, during his pilgrimage to Mecca and his subsequent stops in the Middle East, Malcolm witnesses the “colorblindness” of the Islamic world. This colorblindness refers to a model of racial integration that Malcolm actively resists earlier. Seeing its effectiveness in another environment, however, changes Malcolm’s attitude toward it. He emerges from his travels convinced that oppressed nonwhite groups throughout the world must unite to eliminate white oppression altogether. In both cases, Malcolm’s openness to the wisdom around him helps him develop a more mature outlook. His constant growth as a person shows that he is not a mere angry revolutionary who wants vengeance against whites but a leader sincerely interested in achieving racial harmony.

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CHAPTERS SEVENTEEN, EIGHTEEN & NINETEEN QUICK QUIZ

Who financially supports Malcolm’s pilgrimage to Mecca?
Ella
Elijah Muhammad
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