The Autobiography of Malcolm X

by: Malcolm X & Alex Haley

Important Quotations Explained

4
I reflected many, many times to myself upon how the American Negro has been entirely brainwashed from ever seeing or thinking of himself, as he should, as a part of the nonwhite peoples of the world.

This quote, made by Malcolm after his 1964 trip to Mecca and Africa, and recounted in Chapter Eighteen, “El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz,” shows the strength of his commitment to a broader perspective on race relations and oppression. While still blaming white people for the difficulties that black Americans face, Malcolm suggests a unified global black community as a potential remedy for the struggle of blacks everywhere. Unlike his claim that Islam can be a tool that helps all Americans redefine their understanding of race, Malcolm’s perspective here focuses on building up black power rather than on expanding both whites’ and blacks’ perspective. His assertion that whites have “brainwashed” blacks in order to disempower them reflects his belief that blacks throughout the world must work together to overcome white oppression.