e-mail me at billdeg@umich.edu

4/27/2012

X

I taught The Autobiography of Malcolm X in my English 327 class this past term.  I've always found the text interesting and, at the risk of sounding pretentious, important, but this time reading it was a deeply affecting experience.  Conversion plays such a profound role in the narrative.  This time I read the text as a story of changing who you are.  It's fundamentally possible to do just that, the book suggests.

"The young...are the only hope that America has.  The rest of us have always been living in a lie."

"Anything I do today, I regard as urgent."

And his representation of the Middle East, the site of Malcolm's second great converstion, resonated:

"Never have I witnessed such sincere hospitality and the overwhelming spirit of true brotherhood as is practiced by people of all colors and races here in this Ancient Holy Land."

Indeed, when Malcolm leaves the U.S. for the first time, he's struck by comparative friendliness.  Even in Germany, en route to the Arab world, he sees this change:

"We went into a lot of shops and stores, looking more than intending to buy anything.  We'd walk in, any store, every store, and it would be Hello!  People who never saw you before, and knew you were strangers.  And the same cordiality when we left, without buying anything.  In America, you walk in a store and spend a hundred dollars, and leave, and you're still a stranger.  Both you and the clerks act as though you're doing each other a favor."

6 comments:

Luisa said...

Dearest Bill. It has been a long time since I read The Autobiography of Malcolm X and I feel reading it under the thematic umbrella is an important one. We humans have a great capacity to change and Malcolm's case, the change was for his personal growth instead of because of religious ideology---although the religious indoctrination was part of his journey toward growth--toward change.

I read a piece in the Huffington Post about a book by a woman with whom there had been a romance between her and President Obama. It was not a undignified presentation but rather a wonderful discussion of the sharing of minds. I was married to an intelligent person and Ideas were important to us as they seem to have been for Barrack Obama and this woman. Interestingly in discussing his quandary as to which way to go ---Black or White he uses the terms choice and change as a stopper so he could think the idea of hybridism and I found myself understanding the 22 year old deciding the course his life should take.

Luisa said...

I forgot to mention that the thematic umbrella you did not mention was "change". You were speaking change. And our own Dear President was grappling with both change and choices.

Luisa said...

I am now officially done with hybridity in people and cultures tonight. :D

Luisa said...

Kiss to you and Nicole

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