Malcolm X Essay

2135 words - 9 pages

Malcolm X fought for the human rights of blacks in America in the 1950s and 60s. Malcolm believed that it was devastating for black people to compare their lives to the lives of whites and for them to perceive themselves as inferior. Malcolm tore away at the inferiority complex of black Americans by teaching blacks the self-respect that he had learned himself. In America in the 1950s, society was completely dominated by whites. Whites dominated all "political, economic and myth making power". (p.142 Wideman) Blacks in America were in the complete opposite situation. They had virtually no political power, they were segregated against by Jim Crow laws, they were poor, and many were becoming more and more disgusted with their living conditions. America had just returned from World War II, where it had achieved an incredible victory for humanity. Blacks began to wonder why America would fight overseas for human rights but wouldn't even give the same basic rights to citizens of their own country. The civil rights movement thus began. In American society the roots of racial separation were deep. Whites had more money, greater opportunity and were living better lives. Blacks were poor and oppressed by whites. Blacks had been living under whites for so long that a frame of consciousness had been created. This "frame" was the perceived standard of self-worth in which blacks compared their lives and self-image to the lives and images of whites. (p.142 Wideman) This "frame" was devastating for blacks. Martin Luther King explains: ". . . you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek or explain to your six-year-old daughter why she can't go to the amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears well up in her little eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see the depressing clouds of inferiority begin to form in her little mental sky. . ."(p.88 King) Many blacks gave up on themselves early in life. It was unusual for blacks to have seen anyone they knew really make a good or honest living. This gave them no reason to believe that they could have one themselves. Blacks were taught nothing about their own past. Most had no knowledge of anything great ever done by blacks. They had no idea of the glorious civilizations of Africa. They only knew what whites taught them or that they had been slaves from the jungle continent of Africa. Blacks also had been taught by Christianity that their blackness was a curse. Their blackness meant that they were inferior to whites.(p.166 Haley) Inferiority and a overwhelming desire to be as "white" as possible was burned into a black's consciousness. Black men even gave themselves conks, a hair-do in which a black man burns his hair so it is straight like a white man's hair. Malcolm X was one of these young men with a conk. Early in his life, his father had been violently murdered by a white supremacist...

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