The Autobiography of Malcolm X

Malcolm was a man of his time, shaped by the society he lived in. What is most remarkable about him is his eagerness to evolve himself. When in prison, he read everything he could lay his hand on developing his beliefs and philosophies. After prison, he spent the next 12 years in dedicating his life to the Nation of Islam, towards transforming the lives of his Afro-American brothers using the philosophy of Elijah Muhammad, as it had once transformed him. During this time, he fought and blamed all Whites for the current condition of the Black community. When he finally broke away from the Nation of Islam and traveled the world, he soon came to see beyond racial lines and then became a staunch human rights activist.

In this book, Malcolm, candidly, reflects on his life while (almost) dictating it to Alex Haley. The book was written during the last two years of Malcolm’s life; these were the most dynamic period of his life. It offers us insight into the events that shaped his life and also, to some extent, the evolution of his ideology. I hope to read his speeches and his dairy to get more insight into his thoughts after his break from the Nation of Islam.

There are several things to unpack in this book. The most important is the racial problem that existed and still does, where the marginalized community is conditioned to believe that they are of a lower stature to the dominant community; this is true even of today for many communities around the world live as if their minds are still “colonized.”

By the end of the book, the study of Malcolm’s life was, for me, a byproduct of everything I had learned from the book. What the book presents is that Malcolm X was, like anyone, at the end of the day, human. He had his set of flaws. It still amazes me how his strong views, on the mistreatment of blacks, did not help him see the parallels in his thoughts towards women; though, he was surrounded and supported by two very strong women – his wife Betty and his sister Ella. As humans, in spite of our flaws, the essence of life is the pursuit of truth and justice. In that, his life has lots to offer us.