The Analysis Of The Struggles Of An African American Man And A Native American Man

1624 words - 6 pages

It has long been said that people turn to religion during their most desperate and loneliest moments. This theory was very evident in the lives of two very different real-world people: Black Elk and Malcolm X. Black Elk, a Lakota Sioux Indian, and Malcolm X, an African-American, had many similar experiences despite their differences in geographical location, methods, and religion. Malcolm X and Black Elk turned to Islam and the Sioux’s indigenous religion, respectively, for direction and strength to be liberated from oppression by the United States (US) Government (and the mainstream-American community) and to fight for their respective communities.
Malcolm X grew up in a controversial period of racial segregation in American history, causing many African-Americans to lose faith of ever becoming equal to white Americans. X’s father was a Baptist minister; ironically, however, X grew to hate all religions. In fact, once X was sentenced to prison on the counts of larceny and breaking and entering for a maximum of ten years, his fellow inmates named him “Satan” because of his anti-religious views towards God and the Bible (Haley 171-4, 177). However, as he aspired to be a “better” person and searched for a purpose in life, his viewpoints on religion changed. In these dark moments of his life, X started to comply to requests made by his converted brothers and sister of not smoking cigarettes and not eating pork (180-1) and to get on his knees and pray to Allah (195-6). After writing a letter and receiving a letter back from Elijah Muhammad, X started to hold the notions that Islam was the original religion of African-Americans and that history had been “whitened” by the white man (208). Overall, X needed an explanation to fall back for why African-Americans were being oppressed. Furthermore, the Nation of Islam helped him become who he ultimately wanted to be: an African-American who demanded respect at a glance (177-9). Malcolm X grew up with racism affecting his daily life. In fact, his family and he even had to move from Omaha, Nebraska to Milwaukee, Wisconsin to Lansing, Michigan because of threats by the Ku Klux Klan and its members (Busby, and Risjord). Therefore, it can be reasonably inferred that Malcolm X would hold negative prejudicial viewpoints towards Caucasians; however, he did not really begin to express these feelings until after he joined the Nation of Islam. In the Nation of Islam, Malcolm X found a “reasonable” explanation to all of his problems: a white person caused trouble in his youth, a white person had arrested him, a white person sentenced him to prison. X found Muhammad’s explanation to his problems–white devils–reasonable (Haley 231). After X’s release from prison, he was guided to become a minister on behalf of the Nation of Islam. During these years, X used Islam as a tool to spread his message to African-Americans of a separate nation to themselves. At that time, in his life, it could undoubtedly be...

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