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#11 Malcolm X's Childhood (part 1)

"Ignorance of each other is what has made unity impossible in the past. Therefore, we need enlightenment. We need more light about each other. Light creates understanding. Understanding creates love. Love creates patience. And patience creates unity. Once we have more knowledge, light, about each other, we will stop condemning each other. And a united front will be brought about."

These are the words of America's angriest black man. Malcolm X wasn't just an emblem of the fight against racism. He revolutionized how black people perceive themselves and their fights for civil rights. X, in Malcolm X, stands for the unknown, in protest against the erasure of African Americans through names during slavery, where the slaves get their names from their masters.

Until quite recently, I knew almost nothing about Malcolm X, however, even though I lacked the substantial knowledge about him. He had always held a special place in my heart. As a teenager, and later as a university student, I would stumble upon his famous quotes and was constantly fascinated by Malcolm's remarkable journey.

He had the two most controversial characteristics in the western world. One, being black, and two, being Muslim. My plan for the Malcolm X series was adding it as one of the first episodes, but I realized that I needed to truly understand Malcolm X before attempting to share his story. I began reading his biography with little to no background knowledge.

I also didn't watch the movie and I'm not planning to watch any adaptation. Instead, I wanted to learn about Malcolm X from his own words, through his biography and speeches on radio and television. While reading his biography, there were numerous occasions when I had to put the book down because of the weight of the situations he described.

I was deeply moved. I cried. I laughed. I grew angry. I became frustrated because I couldn't help but notice how little we have changed since his time. So this Malcolm X series is my attempt to delve into Malcolm X's life. and share his story. This will be a two part series. We'll travel back in time, delving into Malcolm's youth.

We're gonna immerse ourselves in jazzy music and navigate the crowded streets of the ghetto New York City.

Malcolm X's Childhood

Malcolm was his father's seventh child. He had three siblings from his father's previous marriage. They all lived in Boston. Ella, Earl and Mary. I want you to remember. Ella, because Ella will have a huge impact on Malcolm X's life. And from a second marriage, there were in total with eight children. I want you to remember Wilfred and Reginald.

Malcolm's mother had the appearance of a white woman and there is a reason behind it. So if you look at Malcolm's pictures on the internet, Actually, on ever, whatever picture you look at on the internet, it's all black and white, you don't see other colors. But, it's important to know, it's maybe not important, but it's nice to know that Malcolm had reddish hair.

Malcolm's grandfather was actually a slave owner who had a black woman as his wife. Thus, Malcolm's mother was born from this difficult marriage her mother had. Malcolm's grandfather had also reddish hair, which Malcolm inherited. In all the siblings, Malcolm was the lightest child in the family. Malcolm realized early in his life that it was seen as a privilege to have a light skin color.

However, later on, especially in his teenage years, he detested every drop of what he called white rapist blood in his body.

Well, before we delve deeper into Malcolm X's childhood,I think it's important if we want to understand a person, we can also look at their parents, right? So Malcolm's grandparents were actively involved in educating their children.

Malcolm's grandmother was aware of the social atmosphere in America, the racial tensions and the prejudices against Black people. She believed that her children should differentiate between actions driven by genuine racism and those resulting from ignorance. There is a difference between that and I will give you a lot of example in this episode.

Malcolm X's Parents

Both of Malcolm X's parents were active in the movement known as the Garvey Movement. It was led by Marcus Aurelius Garvey. The movement aimed to raise the banner of black race purity and encouraged black masses to return back to their ancestral African homelands because They were brought from African, from their African homelands as slave in America.

Marcus Aurelius Garvey, the head of the movement, was considered one of the most controversial black men on earth at that time. So Malcolm's father, Reverend Earl, He was a Baptist and he was deeply religious. He believed that freedom, independence, and self respect could not be achieved by black men in America.

He urged black people to return to Africa and leave America for the white men. Malcolm grew up in this environment and had a close relationship with his father. His father favored him for his lighter complexion. It's interesting because Malcolm thinks that his father had a subconscious bias coming from.

Being influenced by the white man and favoring light skinned individuals. This actually is a phenomenon known in a lot of black family households back then. Malcolm's father took him to Garvey meetings and these meetings were held in people's homes. Early in his life, he found himself in an activist environment.

He remembers slogans like Adam driven off the garden into the caves of Europe or Africa for Africans. Another one was Ethiopians awake. Malcolm's mother, on the other hand, had a good education, but this education she had created a tension in her relationship with her husband. The black community faced significant hardship and most black people sought integration and were status symbol oriented, aiming to emulate middle class ideals.

The most successful individuals in Lansing, Michigan, where actually Malcolm lived, were the waiters and janitors in downtown stores. Malcolm's family faced harassment multiple times, they had to move frequently. So after all these harassments, they lived in a countryside where Malcolm could experience a more normal childhood.

The first slap of reality hit when he was 5 years old as he began attending school with his siblings, Wilfred, Hilda and Philbert. They were the only black children in an all white school. Normally, this would be a huge problem. But since they were the only black people in the area It was considered tolerable.

It was considered tolerable. That even says so much. So, they were called the N word so many times. They were called darky, they were called rustous, so frequently that Malcolm and his siblings thought that these were their natural names. Interestingly, No one treated these names as insults. The insults were spoken so casually, like someone might ask, Hey, can you pass the salt?

Like, this casually. So when I said that the grandmother, Malcolm's grandmother, always taught her children to differentiate between genuine racism and lack of knowledge, this is what I exactly mean. And if you also recall from the previous episode that I recorded about That I recorded with Kubra about cultural heritage.

There I mentioned that intention plays a crucial role when opening up to other cultures. And education is a significant factor. Now where, while talking about Malcolm X's experiences with all these insulting names, I see that these people did not have the intention or awareness that these words were actually offensive.

However, this remains an issue, even if your nature is good. It doesn't excuse ignorance. Good intentions don't matter if you refuse to educate yourself and expand your understanding. Ignorance, I see that. I think that ignorance cancels positive intentions. Being good by nature, calling yourself a good human is irrelevant if you lack the empathy to recognize your ignorance.

Malcolm's earliest memory

Let me tell you of Malcolm X's earliest vivid memory. When Malcolm was only four years old, A white supremacist group known as the Black Legion set their house on fire. Malcolm was literally snatched away from his bed, rushing outside, and eight children in front of their house with their pajamas, crying, and literally witnessing their house is burning.

So, the Black Legion, they were fueled by hate, by the fact that Malcolm's family lived in the east side of Lansing, Michigan, and of the east side of Lansing, black people were not allowed to live there. And the place where I'm talking about is the area close to Michigan State University. Years later, Malcolm would be invited to the Michigan State University to give a speech to students, to white students.

How crazy is that? So after this attack, the nightmare that Malcolm calls it, they thought that this was The final thing that they could, the worst thing that they could do. But unfortunately that was not the case. The police said that his father had been in an accident and his mother had to identify him because the father was almost unidentifiable.

Malcolm's father had been attacked and left on the streets to appear as if he had a car accident. So for Malcolm, this was a really hard period of time. The strong imposing black man he knew was in a terrible condition. He lived in that situation for two and a half years, and at the end, Malcolm lost his father when he was six years old, and his mother at the age of 38 became a widow with eight children under her care.

They were able to stay on their feet with the insurance money they received from their father's death, but it was something like a thousand dollars, so it wasn't enough. So they were at a point as a family with eight children. They were at a point that they felt dizzy from the hunger. Malcolm's brother stopped out of school and started working while Hilda, his sister, begun suing and looking for employment.

The only sibling, the little brother, Reginald, was under Malcolm's protection and Malcolm always felt a responsibility towards him. Don't forget Reginald in the story because. We will mention him again. So as I mentioned earlier, Malcolm's mother didn't appear black, which made it also easier for her to find a job in white people's home.

White families did not want to do anything with black people. This was of course post slavery America. So for Malcolm's mother, it was easy to find a job because she looked white. However, sometimes Malcolm would visit the houses where his mom worked and people would immediately realize that she was in fact a black woman.

And of course they would fight, fire her. And this happened quite a few times that took a toll on his mother's mental wellbeing. So during this time, after his father died, they managed to secure two checks, a widow pension and a check for the welfare. This welfare check was actually a pass for. Officials to enter Malcolm's home.

They began to question Malcolm's mom's ability to protect her children. and harassed her in their own house. And they also acted like if they owned the family, asking questions and turning the children against each other. The psychological pressure that his mom went through took a huge toll on the family relationship of Malcolm.

9 year old Malcolm

In the year where Malcolm turned nine, his life, their life was particularly tough. Malcolm's family went through a psychological deterioration. It was, it's the time of the Great Depression. Where, where people could hardly find something to eat. Malcolm's mom was a really proud, beautiful woman, but now they had to stand in line for free food that was being distributed with the pride slipping away, especially with the Malcolm's pride, because Malcolm was a really pride boy.

Malcolm started his first actions of stealing from stores. He became aggressive. He became impatient. He grabbed anything that he could find eat. So Malcolm's mother was really tough on. Malcolm. His mother was really tough on Malcolm. So, as I said, he was impatient and he had to fight to get something in his stomach.

He says,

"So early in my life, I had learned that if you want something, you had better make some noise. "

The fact that he started stealing put him in contact with the welfare workers, and this terrified his mother. So Malcolm got beaten really often by his mom, and he says this, and I quote, One thing I have always been proud of is that I never raised my hand against my mother.

This powerful, well spoken, educated woman began to crumble under the weight of feeding and protecting her children in this harsh world. So what happened to his mom? Well She began talking to herself, often unaware that her children were around and it really reached a terrifying point to the children. So the welfare workers noticed this weakening and also they knew Malcolm's stealing history.

It led children being taken away from her, starting with Malcolm himself. So at the end, the mother was taken into a state mental hospital where she remained for two years. 26 years until 1963. But at the end, what happened in 1963? Malcolm and his siblings managed to get her out of the hospital after all these years to live in Lansing, Michigan with Philbert and his family.

At this point, the entire family was divided. And only two of the siblings were granted permission to live together. The others were placed with different families, foster families. But they continued to attend school in Lansing. And whenever they would grab the chance, they would get together. Despite their separation, they remain very close in their feelings towards each other.

Teenager Malcolm

So if you ask yourself, what kind of teenager Malcolm was, well Malcolm was a mischievous child. He was acting out in class, and he was defying the teacher's order. One day, he did something really bad. While the teacher turned to the turned to write on the blackboard, Malcolm went behind his desk, grabbed a thumbtack, placed it on the teacher's chair, and when the teacher returned to sit down, Malcolm was far away.

I think this is a very popular way of pranking a teacher. A really painful one also, but uh, who did this? Let me know if you did this too. So, this behavior led to multiple expulsions from school and this last prank got him expelled to, to go to a reform school at the age of 13. In the reform school, He was actually really liked by both students and teachers.

So Malcolm also noticed something. They talked about black people as he, as if Malcolm was not present right there. They were using offensive words like the N word and they did it repeatedly. And imagine being a 13 years old, trying to comprehend why people call you. Another black individual's offensive names while acting like it's perfectly normal.

What level of gaslighting is this? Malcolm X had a vague understanding that something was wrong, but he never confronted them about it. He knew that he was a normal human being. He didn't really understand why they were acting like he was not there. Despite being one of the best performing students in his class, he didn't receive the credit that he would readily give to a white boy.

And he says, and I quote, even though they appear to have opened the door, it was still closed. Thus, they never did really see me. Malcolm loved the two classes, English and History. And he hated Mathematics. He says that it has no room for argument. And yeah, Malcolm is known for his arguments. So I can definitely understand why he said that.

Ella and Boston

Around the age of 13, he reconnected with one of the women who had significant impact on his life. Remember Ella? Yes, the Hall sister from his father's first marriage. Ella was a proud, black, strong woman with very dark skin. Ella was an independent woman who even owned some property and she, she was active in society.

This was not really common for a black person. Let's stand. A black woman. So this situation was, so, uh, Situation was really inspiring for Malcolm. He was deeply impressed by the appearance and the way she carried herself. Ella lived in Rugsbury, a neighborhood in Boston, Massachusetts. Had a large black community. Boston was really different. Malcolm observed how Ella was actively involved in various clubs and she was even leading a black society club.

It was the first time he had seen so many black people gathered together discussing different CDs. The world, the urban city life was very new to Malcolm. In Boston, he went to church with Ella and saw many black people in beautiful churches. It really amazed him as a child. He realized how black people's situations varied from state to state.

He loved the experience in Boston, but he was there just for the summer holiday. And when the summer holiday ended, he had to return to Lansing, Michigan. And that's when things started to change for Malcolm. The vague feeling of discomfort when he was called the N word over and over again by his classmates and the teachers picking on him, laughing at him in a very casual way.

He felt a deep irritation this time. He continued to think about his time in Boston. Malcolm was just 13, and he started thinking about his time in Boston and the sense of belonging he had among his own people. So his, so his teachers started asking him. Hey Malcolm, you're acting so strange. You don't seem like yourself.

Again, gaslighting as what? He said they were like, Malcolm, what's the matter? Bunch of gaslighting manipulators. Why am I so angry? I don't know. But Malcolm did not answer, really. He was actually in a silent protest. Although he was silent, it was really loud. to his environment.

The conversation with his teacher that changed his life

So the last drop for Malcolm was a conversation he had with his guide teacher.

He tells this very detailed in his biography. So one of his teachers one day advised him. This advice had a huge impact on Malcolm's life. One day his teacher asked him, and I'm going to quote from the book, Malcolm, you ought to be thinking about the career. Have you been giving it any thought? Malcolm believed that his teacher meant well.

He never actually thought about what he wanted to be in the future, but he said: "Well, yes sir, I've been thinking I'd like to be a lawyer". but the teacher was really surprised and he made Malcolm feel like he was making a bad decision.

The teacher said, "Malcolm, one of life's first needs is for us to be realistic.Don't misunderstand me, no, we all here like you, you know that. But you've got to be realistic about being a, a lawyer. That's not realistic for a n word. You need to think about something you can be. Everybody admires your carpentry workshop. Why don't you plan on carpentry? People like you. As a person, you would get all kinds of work."

He advised many students in Malcolm X's class. But Malcolm X was one of the best students in his class. And not only his class, the whole degree. In his guidance, the students where lower grades were recommended for jobs such as county agent, a veterinarian, a nurse, or a doctor. However, none of them were suggested to become carpenter.

Malcolm knew that he was more intelligent than all of these boys and girls, but he felt that he was not considered intelligent enough in the eyes of the white man. He began realizing that there were very few lawyers and nurses and doctors in the black community. Why was that? This conversation he had with his teacher made him start to change on the inside.

He began to distance himself from the white people and stopped responding to the use of the n word. Instead, He began to show signs of protest. Ella arranged for him to attend school in Massachusetts. This time I didn't say right. Malcolm says, when he looks back, I would probably have jobs like a club waiter.

I would be a successful shoe shiner because these jobs were both considered respectable at the time. So years later, when he reflects on the advice his teacher gave him. He imagined the exact opposite. He says, and I'm going to quote from his book,

"I would today probably be among some city's professional black bourgeoisie, sipping cocktails and palming myself off as a community spokesman for and leader of the suffering black masses.
While my primary concern would be to grab a few more crumbs from the groaning board of the two faced whites with whom they are begging to integrate."

-Malcolm X

And then he says, "Alhamdulillah", meaning all praise to Allah, about going to Boston. And if he was stayed in Lansing, Michigan, he would probably be brainwashed.

So when I read this part where he said Alhamdulillah in his book, I was, I got immediately goosebumps because what he just said about when he reflected that if he was going to the direction of being a lawyer, he would be someone totally different. This is the way how Muslims look at hardships. They see, they recognize hardships, but they then realize that this is, maybe this is the best situation in order to have a better future, in order to have more goodness in the future.

Maybe he was not. able to become a lawyer, but at the same time, this actually saved him from being a brainwashed black man. And years later, he reflects on that and he says, Alhamdulillah. And this is such an important way of looking at things. And I think Malcolm X gives us a great example, how Muslim people look at difficulties.

I love this.

And Malcolm was a country boy and in comparison to other boys in his age, he was quite tall. He had broad shoulders and in his biography he often laughs at the way he used to dress. He wore a green suit that was too short on the arms and on the ankles. For the black people there, things were really different.

In the first few days after Malcolm arrived in Boston, he wandered around the town. Malcolm saw successful black people in Boston who were living well and were working in significant positions. It was a new experience for him to observe black people on the sidewalks. Going to work, going to shopping, visiting the church.

These people considered themselves more cultured and higher than the black people living in the ghetto. Most black people in Boston had jobs as servants and they considered themselves professional and better. I thought that was really interesting that Black men in their 40s and 50s, they were working as errand boys, but they were dressed as if they were ambassadors and they were referring to, they were referring to themselves as government workers.

Malcolm calls this self delusion. Malcolm was always drawn to older people because he was also looking older. He regularly visited the ghetto parts of Rugsbury and felt drawn to the places like grocery stores, cheap restaurants and storefront churches. He found the people here more natural and more relaxed compared to those who considered themselves of higher class.

For the first time in his life, he started hearing slang words like chick, cool, hip, or hey cat, what you got over there? What you got over there? Let me tell you something. That was so cringe. Oh my god, I'm cringing. One second. Okay, we're good to go. So, he met there in Rugsbury a guy called Shorty. Shorty was about 10 years older than Malcolm.

And he was also from Michigan, so they were, they got immediately close. And Shorty became Malcolm's local guide in Rugsbury. And Shorty had a talent in finding jobs leading Malcolm's into depths of Rugsbury's ghetto. So the inexperienced newbie that Malcolm was, He listened to Shorty's advice and soon landed his first job as a shoeshine boy in the ballroom.

Schoeshine boy Malcolm

So in this new role he had in the ballroom, Malcolm observed people, learned to recognize opportunities to shine the shoes of dancers and the ballroom attendees.

He mastered the art of selling shoeshine services. So while working in the ballroom, Malcolm experienced the glamorous side of Frogsbury, watching men and women dance.

The electric atmosphere, the dimly lit room adorned with sparkling chandeliers that cast warm and inviting glow, the hardwood floors echoed with the rhythmic tap of dancing feet and the air filled with melodies of jazz and swing, setting the stage for an unforgettable night. Despite the glamour and the elegance, there was a sad truth.

There were racial divisions. During black dances, white attendees were welcomed, but when it came to white dances, the black attendees were not welcomed. So as Malcolm spent time with Shorty and his friends, he quickly realized that they were not merely shoeshine boys. And this is also where Malcolm learned.

The first fundamental lesson of black people of Roxbury, everything is a hustle. So his involvement with Shorty's crew led him to experience, let him experience for the first time bad habits like smoking, drinking, and drug use. So during one of these parties, Uncle met a girl, a white girl. So with Sofia in his harm, Malcolm's status in the Black community got to another level.

And up to then, he was just a youngster, but now he started to become a real deal in downtown Roxbury. And I'm talking about the 16 years old Malcolm, by the way. Malcolm was introduced in the ghetto and became accepted as a member of the ghetto community, part of an organization involving prostitution and drug dealing.

New York City

Malcolm took up a job as a busboy in trains. and where he sold sandwiches, candy, cake, ice cream. He was able to work between New York and Boston on the train. And Malcolm always had dreamed to go to New York. And he had seen pictures of Harlem and the followers of Marcus Garvey movement that, which his father was a part of.

So working on the railroad was a way for him to get, to get to New York every now and then free. So what I'm going to do now is I'm going to tell Malcolm saw New York for the first time, so you can also imagine in your head how it looked like, okay? So the first time when he came to New York, immediately he started sightseeing.

He went to the White House, downtown Washington. Then he saw Black people. He saw Black people in worse situation than he had seen in the poorest section of Roxbury. He never saw so many huckers, public crapshooters, little kids running around at midnight. Begging for money, but he also saw other black people that were doing better.

Some of them had university degree, university degrees, but we're working as laborers, janitors, guards, taxi drivers. For an average black person in Washington. Male carrying was a high prestige job. If I had to sketch a situation at the job market for Black people in America, that is the best picture I can draw.

Almost everyone in Harlem needed some kind of hustle to survive. And they need to say hi with whatever drugs they could find to forget what they had to do to survive. But in this particular bar, he went in the smallest paradise. He saw that the Black people in there were different. They were more major.

They were not showing off their money. They didn't need to. This bar was one of the most appropriate bars in NYC for Malcolm. For now Let's continue exploring New York from Malcolm's eyes and we'll go back to that bar again. What else did he saw? He saw the famous Apollo Theater. He saw Theresa Hotel. It was one of the finest and the first hotels in New York where actually black people were allowed to stay.

He saw jam packed bars with famous stars like Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Dinah Washington, and so on. Malcolm was really mesmerized by New York. This was the world where Malcolm belonged to. He was about to become a Harlemite. Malcolm says, New York was heaven to me and Harlem was the seventh heaven.

And Malcolm one day got an offer from his favorite bar, Small's Paradise, as I said. He was 17 years old in 1942. In this job, he started to learn everything. He learned what bartenders do, what cooks do. They knew about everything, even the customers. The customers began to school him. Every single day, as he hustled around, serving tables, Malcolm was doing more than just dishing out food and drinks.

He was, in a way, getting a street smart education. So think as his ears as sponges, soaking up every word from the customers. Now every once in a while. A customer, maybe a bit chatty, or a bit too deep into their drinks, would open up to Malcolm. They would spill the tea about their own hustlers. And I am here talking about Experienced hustlers from thief gangs and such.

They were revealing the tips and tricks for their unconventional lives. Malcolm was all over the floor. He learned about things like the gambling, the drug scene, also over the riskier side of thievery, including armed robberies. This was also kind of known for the police and they started entering Small's Paradise too.

Undercover detectives were now easily spotted by Malcolm. Just by a nod or a wink, he was immediately able to identify or recognize an undercover cop. When Malcolm talks about the ghetto New York, I was really moved by these words. I quote. In one sense, we were huddled in there, bounded together, and we didn't know it.

All of us who might have been probed space, cure cancer, or built industries were instead black victims of the white man's American social system. Malcolm also uses the metaphor. For of an old time hustler, these elder people were really talented in their youth. They could have been skilled or successful.

And he's drawing an analogy to older individuals in a black communities who may have been skilled if the right opportunities were giving him, giving to them, he sees these elder black people as wolves who were able to survive without their teeth, there is a huge loss of potential at that time. There are so many unfulfilled dreams of many individuals.

Due to systematic racism. What also really interesting is about the nightlife in Harlem is when the downtown nightclubs had closed, most of the Harlem places crawled with white people and white people actually craved for black atmosphere. They were looking for black food, black soul food, they call. I think they see it as a new experience, like an adventure, being different.

And, and as a woman with many cultural backgrounds, I can definitely understand this. I had once a colleague that was showing, that was talking about how many countries he visited. He was talking about these countries, like he was saying, there are so many cultures, so many foods. It's beautiful. It's really crazy.

One day he said, he said something very offensive to me about my headscarf. And, and then I was thinking myself, like. Besides the reaction I gave him, I, of course, responded how disrespectful his reaction was to him. He was telling me that it was not disrespectful at all, but as I told him, like, it's not your place to decide whether your statement about my headscarf is disrespectful or not, because it is something I wear.

It is something I believe, but anyways, what I want to say is what's the point of visiting many countries and seeing different kinds of cultures and not realizing and not seeing, differentiating between respect and disrespect. I'm sure he and many other people had no bad intentions, but at the same time.

Again, good intention doesn't mean good actions. If you don't educate yourself, clearly you have the resources to educate yourself because yeah, they visited so many countries. You had many opportunities to educate yourself. So I think all of these experiences were just color and adventure and different and mind blowing, just like a form of adrenaline to you and not really understand the value behind every culture.

And I think that's such a waste of time. I feel like I'm throwing a lot of shade in here. Let's continue with the story. But yeah. So again, with the white people in Harlem, it was exactly the same. White people in Harlem, they were looking for new experiences, new colors, new tastes, new spices. When downtown nightclubs closed.

They would go to Harlem bars and nightclubs. Of course, there was no permission for black people going to white clubs.

Selling Drugs

Malcolm was introduced to a new hustle. He started selling drugs. Slowly, he was getting more and more involved in the deep Harlem hustling ghetto culture. He started to carrying a gun at just 17 years old. And he says about these times, I quote, When you become an animal, a vulture in the ghetto, as I have become, you enter a world of animals and vultures.

It becomes truly the survival of only the fittest. Three things scared Mogum the most in his teenage years. Jail. A job and the army. This is a fun story. Black spies from the army would hang around in Harlem to find soldiers to get in the army. Malcolm was a good observer and immediately understand that these were spies.

So whenever he saw these spies, he would act crazy and he would act like high. He would say weird stuff to the spies like, I want to, I want to joke the Japanese army. And sometimes he would wear crazy suits and, and these like weird shoes, and he would go to the reception desk of the army to enroll. He would act crazy and, and greet them like, crazy oh, daddy oh, imagine the white soldiers like watching Malcolm, like who the hell is this man?

And they would immediately cancel him and not letting him in the army. So the thing is, black people were not normally allowed into the army around this time. He says, during the war, The white man was just so generous that he graciously permitted some black people to take a break from their manual jobs, allowing to, allowing them to use a pencil to sit at a desk.

He's actually complaining about the fact that when they don't need black people, they would act like they don't exist, but when they need them, They would always give them, like, these second class jobs that don't have a lot of significance. At the age of 18, Malcolm got involved in some pretty heavy stuff.

He started robbing. This was actually to keep up with his lifestyle, because he turned to use hard drugs. His oberies were often triggered by running out of money in his pocket. With the help of his friend Shorty, Malcolm also got connected with musicians. He also went on tours with them. Even supplied them with drugs.

And this, I'm talking about the years of 1944 and 1945. The nightclubs in downtown closed. The taxis and black limousines. Would bring white people to the uptown because yeah, white people couldn't get enough of the black people's soul Malcolm says that these people were like trying to hug you and they will just say like you're just as good as I am I want you to know that when I read this I was like, this is still happening, especially from elder white people I hear this omar has that new here.

It's Dutch meaning Oh, but you are of the good ones. Like, hello, am I supposed to feel myself better? Thank you. I guess so. Yeah. Years later it's still the case. Let's continue.

Abusing women?

So I want a little bit talk about his relationship with women because maybe you have seen it already, Malcolm was accused of, of physical abuse towards women.

I have many thoughts about this, but I think I'm gonna have to first clarify. How this is, this all started. So at the age of 18 or 19, during a robbery one night, Malcolm and his friend Sammy almost didn't make it out. Almost caught by the police. Malcolm was able to escape to Sammy's apartment after the robbery.

Sammy's wife confronted him about where Sammy was. And Malcolm says he hit Sammy's wife. This had actually a huge consequence between his relationship with Sammy. But also for his life. Semih was so enraged that at one point he was almost killing Malcolm X with his gun. So this is what Malcolm's also tells us about physical abuse towards a woman.

And it's important to note that both Semih and Malcolm were under the influence of drugs. And I know there are some sayings that Malcolm was a woman abuser, but I feel Malcolm is really open about his previous life. And as you can see, I'm giving you so much details about his life. And if you read his biography, you will find much more details.

He's really open about his mistakes. He talks about Ella, his half sister that I mentioned. Ella was one of Malcolm's role model. Also, his wife, Betty X, was also one, is also one of the women he appreciated the most. So I saw this tweet on X, uh, on Twitter. If Malcolm X was killed at age of 20, he would have died an abuser, a thief, an addict, a narrow minded, depressed, and violent criminal.

So I believe in change for the young. So about, about the view on black women, especially, he says this. What a shame that proud, fine black woman never lived where their true greatness of the black race was appreciated. So when you look at Malcolm X's life, you can clearly see A change of visions throughout his life, which is very natural.

I know I'm delving deeply into Malcolm X's earlier life, but not to sensualize or dwell on the negative aspects, but to truly understand the man behind the legend. As Malcolm himself expressed, to comprehend any person, we must explore their entire life journey.

My goal is to provide a comprehensive portrait of Malcolm X, recognizing that his experiences, both positive and negative.

Played a vital role in shaping the influential figure we know today by examining his youth and childhood, we gain insight into the forces that. Mollet has believed his values, his transformation into a highly influential civil rights leader. This detailed exploration allows us to appreciate the complexity of his life, in my opinion, beyond any single narrative and to better understand the context in which he came out as a key figure in the fight for justice.

And equality for humanity. All these details were exactly given in his biography. And about his biography, he says,

"Today, when everything that I do has an urgency, I would not spend one hour in the preparation of a book which had ambition to perhaps titillate some readers. But I am spending many hours because the full story is the best way that I know to have it seen and understood that I sunk to the very bottom of the American white man's society.Soon now in prison, I found Allah and the religion of Islam and it completely transformed my life. "

-Malcolm X

So again, if 20, we would have a totally different view on Malcolm. Maybe never heard of him, so I think we have to look more at the context rather just focusing on just one incident That's my take on this So Malcolm also worked as a driver who transported numbers and bedding slip from white people across the George Washington Bridge with this job He actually discovered the intricate ties between crime law and politics as a driver He drove customers from hotels to Harlem's Cinephile world.

So in this dark underbelly of Harlem, he witnessed everything, every disgusting behavior of wealthy men, politicians, and their privileged wives from Manhattan. All these people had huge positions and they had huge influence. I don't want to go too much in detail because it's really, when I read all of this, it really turned my stomach.

When he reflects on all of these hustling life. He says, sometimes recalling all of this, I don't know to tell the truth how I am alive to tell it today. They say God takes care of fools and babies. I've so often thought that Allah was watching over me. Through all of this time of my life, I really was dead.

Mentally dead. I just didn't know who I was. He became heavily dependent on drugs, flunging into a world where the time seemed to lose its meaning. A day seemed sometimes five minutes to Malcolm. A half hour seemed a week. His life in Harlem became chaotic, entangled with fellow dealers, hustlers, and issues related to gambling.

And not to mention his run ins with the police. His name frequently appeared in police investigations. At one point, he was almost arrested or his head blasted by the police for carrying a gun. I'm talking about really young ages. I'm talking about 18, 19 years old Malcolm. But Malcolm knew that something was about to happen.

It was his hustler instinct telling him to be ready for every situation. He realized he needed to go back to Roxbury in order to maintain a low profile. Encountering with the police had a big impact on him. He started sleeping all the time. I personally think sleeping was a manifestation of depression.

When he woke up after, like, sleeping for the whole day, he'd often turn to smoke drugs again and then go back to sleep. So, at some point, Malcolm's behavior Became so unpredictable, he would load a single bullet to his gun. He would spin the cylinder and place the weapon against his own head, showcasing that he had no fear of death to his friends.

He did this to convince his friends to, to do a robbery in the neighborhood. And he shared also a piece of advice in his book, which I thought was maybe interesting to all of us. He says, leaving the light of the bathroom on all night is a good way to keep robbers out of your house. Because in a bathroom, anyone can be there at any time of the day and for any amount of time.

So there you have a trick from Malcolm to keep robbers out of your house. And thank me later, guys.

Malcolm's 20's

So Malcolm was actually walking on the edge of his own grave. At the age of 20, he got caught red handed. So how exactly? Malcolm brought a stolen high value watch to a repair shop. Unknowing, the entire neighborhood of jewelers already flirted about this expensive watch. So a police officer immediately entered the jewel shop and instructed Malcolm to step into the back.

At that very moment, a young black man entered the shop and the officer thought that he was an associate of Malcolm, so the officer turned his back on Malcolm, pointing his gun to the other guy. Actually, at that moment, Malcolm had the opportunity to possibly shoot the officer, but he didn't do it. So, he later reflected on his life altering decision, and he says, Allah was with me even then.

I didn't try to shoot him, and that decision saved my life. I'm gonna link this again to faith. If he hadn't been arrested at that moment, he might have been already dead. Why? That exact same day, Sophia's husband, uh, if you remember Sophia, Sophia was Malcolm's girlfriend. Sophia's husband had stormed into Malcolm's apartment, uh, with the intention to kill him.

So it's actually a good thing that he was arrested at that moment and he was saved again. I quickly want to emphasize this encounter. Malcolm Hatt with the officer. While the officer choose not to act harshly during the arrest. Malcolm Hatt actually the chance to shoot the officer because he was also carrying a weapon.

And because of that, the officer had showed some degree of mercy. If we look at how police officers treat black people, it's tragic. I immediately think about Sandra Bland. She was a young, shining African woman that was arrested during, during a traffic stop. She was a victim of racial violence by the American police.

She committed suicide in jail. I think about George Floyd. I think about Eric Gartner and just this summer, the Jacksonville shooting in America. Well, I talk about America, but the situation is also very bad in Europe. You should check the report from the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights. The report says, I quote, the 12 months prevalence of racial discrimination has risen from 24% to 34%. And this happens mostly when people are searching for accommodation, when they're looking for a job at work or in education in Belgium, where I live. The housing market is very known for the racial profiling, as you may know, if you are interested in this report, I will link it in the description of this episode.


Malcolm X was sentenced. to 10 years in prison. But there were also white girls involved in the same case. But they received much lighter sentences, ranging from one to five. So this difference in sentencing was again because of the racial prejudices. Many were shocked that these young and attractive and white middle to upper class women were somehow connected to these black men.

No one, no lawyer, no authority could understand how these seemingly virtuous white women could be involved with African people. So during the court proceedings, Malcolm said to the attorney, hey, we seem to getting sentenced because of these girls. And he tells that the attorney got mad, jumped in the air with his red face.

And he says, you had no business with the white girls. I mean, you get the situation, right? You understand it. Normally, a first time offender for burglary would receive a two year sentence, however, in this case, the involvement of these white women made the situation more sensational, leading to longer sentences.

For Malcolm and his friends. So Malcolm was imprisoned in Charlestown State Prison and it was an old prison. The conditions were extremely bad. The prison was so small that when you laid on your back you could touch both of the walls. And About his experience in, in a prison, he says, when you are in prison, you become just a number.

Everything that you have from your clothes to personal items, everything is not marked with your name, but with your assigned number. The most vivid thing Malcolm remembers from his time in prison, in this specific prison, are the bars. He believes that anyone who claims to care about humanity should seriously consider The consequences of confining people behind bars.

He's not against prisons because you will see that prison actually was an education for him, but he strongly opposes the dehumanizing experience of being trapped behind bars. In Charleston prison, what really shocked me was He gained the nickname Satan because of his irreligious behavior towards his fellow inmates.

He would frequently curse at others. He would throw objects out of a cell. He would refuse to respond, uh, when his number was called. He would curse to God and, and he would curse to the Bible. And this was actually his coping mechanisms for dealing with the misery of prison life. There was a turning point in this prison in Malcolm's attitude.

First intellectual encounter

It was when he encountered another prisoner who had a really positive influence on him. Bimby had a deep understanding of human behavior and his way of speaking was so compelling that even white guards would come close. To listen what he had to say. Bimby spent a lot of time in reading in the prison library.

And for the, for the first time in Malcolm's life. He had seen someone command respect through words alone and not with fear. This really moved Malcolm. So Bimby's approach to religion, particularly intrigued Malcolm. He was a Satan of the prison and he saw himself also as Satan. He didn't believe in God.

He didn't believe in the Bible. So Bimby's philosophy on religion had a huge effect on Malcolm. This made Malcolm stop cursing to religion. Malcolm saw that his arguments sounded really funny in comparison with Bimby's point of views. So Bimby was a great influence to Malcolm and he told Malcolm to take advantage of the prison courses and the library.

The last time when Malcolm was reading. Something was in eighth grade years, years ago, he started taking English courses and his grammar started coming back to him. He started having interest in words, especially because in prison, Bimby talked often about words origins. So Malcolm got really interested in etymology.

So he started with a Latin course. So guys, as you can see, we are like, this was actually the first phase of Malcolm's transformation. We're getting there. Malcolm got transferred to another prison and he got a letter from his brother, Philbert. Last time Philbert wrote to Malcolm, it was about telling him that he was prayed for.

By his holiness church. Malcolm being the anti religious person he was back then, told Philbert basically to fuck off. Now, suddenly Philbert tells Malcolm in his letter that he founded the true religion of the black men. He said he belonged now to something called. Nation of Islam. And this time he says, Malcolm should pray for Allah for deliverance.

With Malcolm's English slowly progressing, he answered Philbert worse than telling him to fuck off this time. Sometime later, he gets another letter, this time from his brother Reginald's, his little brother. He tells him something that will really intrigue him. He says on his letter, Malcolm, don't eat pork anymore and don't smoke any cigarettes.

I will show you a way to get out of prison. What could this mean? Is there, is there a cheat code to get out of the prison? Get out of the prison. By, by not eating pork and smoking cigarettes, how? Is this something psychological? Malcolm really didn't understand what was going on. No pork, no smoking. So at the moment he read getting out of prison, Malcolm took this really seriously.

He immediately stopped smoking and that was indeed his last time smoking. But, but pork? A few days later, pork was served in the prison. Malcolm looked at a plate full with meat and he tried to identify what kind of meat it is. And once he realized it was pork, he passed the plate to the person next to him.

His prison mates were looking at him like he was some kind of crazy for refusing protein. Malcolm says this was the funniest thing, the news, how it was spread throughout the prison. Everyone was whispering, Satan is not eating pork. This made Malcolm feel actually really proud. Years later, when Malcolm X looked back at this moment, he says the following:

"Later, I would learn when I had read and studied Islam a good deal that unconsciously my first free Islamic submission had been manifested. I had experienced for the first time the Muslim teaching. If you will take one step towards Allah, Allah will take two steps toward you."

Goosebumps. By this time, all of Malcolm's brothers and sisters had already converted to Islam, embracing it as the natural religion of black people.

Everything is slowly connecting with each other because Malcolm was transferred to another prison. It was a rehabilitation prison. So it was actually an experiment to rehabilitate prisoners in a more human manner and Ella being an awesome sister, making this transfer happen for Malcolm. So compared to his previous prison experiences, this new facility was a heaven for Malcolm.

There were flushing toilets, there were no bars, and there were windows. There were separate rooms for inmates. A high percentage of inmates at Norfolk, at this prison, were interested in intellectual pursuits. They engaged in group debates and discussions. What's really interesting is, instructions from prestigious institutions like Harvard and Boston University.

Participated in the educational rehabilitation program. So a millionaire was also interested in this rehabilitation program. So he had gifted his books to this prison after he died. The library of the prison was full of special editions and invaluable books. This millionaire was particularly interested in history and religions.

Guys, come on. At this point, you see the story coming along, right? You know what Malcolm did. was actually exposed to highly exclusive books and he was actually able to develop himself in the history of humanity. Maybe these resources will be a good handle and a shield for Malcolm X's fight for human rights after his prison time.

Who is God?

One day Reginald came to visit Malcolm in prison. Malcolm was still wondering what he meant by no pork, no smoking. What, what does that even mean? He was still sticking to the plan, and he was dying to know what the logic was behind it. Reginald, being a very intelligent young man, he asked Malcolm, If a man knew every imaginable thing there is to know, who would he be?

Malcolm, like, kinda looked at him and say, Well, he would have been some kind of of God. There is a man who knows everything. Malcolm said, who is that? Reginald says, God is a man. His name is Allah. Guys, I'm gonna explain this sentence in a minute. God is not a man. We will get there, but just move on with me.

Very interesting, Reginald continued telling that Malcolm about 360 degrees of knowledge that God had. The sum of knowledge, he calls it. But the devil has only 33 degrees, known as Masonry. Reginald told Malcolm that God came to America and he made know himself to a man named Elijah, a black man. And he told that the devil was actually the white man and not the black man.

And the white men know that they are the devil. Malcolm really had mixed feelings, of course, because he didn't expect this kind of conversation. He was still thinking about no smoking, no pork. Getting out of prison, but a man who knows everything, God showing himself as a black man, degrees of knowledge, white man is a devil.

He didn't really understand what was going on. Malcolm started to think about every white person in his life. His foster parents, his neighbors, the kids in school, his teachers, but also the good white people he met during his hustling time. Malcolm was really affected by the way of Reginald's speaking.

He knew how to intrigue Malcolm. So when Reginald came back to visit Malcolm, he was really shocked to the way, to the change in Malcolm's attitude. Malcolm was really interested in this man called Elijah. So here they talked hours and hours about Elijah Muhammad. I referred several times to Elijah Muhammad, but who is Elijah?

Before I tell you who Elijah Muhammad is, let me tell you about Wallace Muhammad. He was a founder of cult or a political organization. This organization was called Nation of Islam. Um, this Wallace Muhammad, the founder of this Nation of Islam, he claimed himself to be a prophet, the god in person. He called himself the Messiah.

Or the Mehdi, the Redeemer. So there is not much known about this man because he suddenly disappeared after some time. After his disappearing, he was succeeded by Elijah Muhammad, who then also claimed himself to be the messenger of God. So this organization called the Nation of Islam became really influential.

It was just in the beginning a local group, but it attracted so many black people because of Elijah Muhammad's views. And sayings about injustice black people are going through for centuries. But if you haven't catched already, the name is indeed Nation of Islam, but it has absolutely so little to do with the teachings, the truly teachings of Islam.

Unfortunately, This human made version of the religion attracted so many people to the degenerated version of Islam. So I think it's really important to summarize the teachings of Elijah Muhammad before we continue to the second part of this Malcolm X series, because we will get deeply into the relationship between Elijah Muhammad and Malcolm X.

Elijah Muhammad

There was a lot of drama. So, to summarize, what are Elijah Muhammad's teachings in the Nation of Islam? There is no hell, no heaven. Black people are lost, they have to be united. Islam is the true religion of Christians. The fourth one is, there is no heaven, but Black people will return to heaven, their own lands.

Um, and the fifth one is very interesting. They call it Jakub's story. And they say that the white race was bred from the black race, from the black genetics. And the white race created then hell for 600 years. The god is a human. And Elijah Muhammad was Mahdi. These are the general visions of, um, Elijah Muhammad in the nation of Islam.

But I want to give you the correct context of Islam. I think it's, that's also really important.

So God has attributes.

  • Tawheed, the oneness of God is really important. That's central. It means that Allah, God has no partners. No associates or no helpers and worship is directly and only to Allah and he is the only worthy of worship That's the first point about Tawheed Oneness of God.

  • And the second one is Allah was not born, nor did he give birth. In other words, he has no beginning and no ending. He claims that God is a man. Uh, so a man, a human is born and has an end. So this just really collides to the core beliefs of Islam. Uh, and the third one is Allah is beyond comparison. In other words, there is nothing comparable to him in nature and attributes.

  • There is none in the entire universe, or ever has, or ever can be, who is equal to Allah.

  • Another principle of Islam is that Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, was the last messenger. There won't be coming any prophets, any new prophets, after Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him. Also really important to mention that in Islam, Racial supremacy is strictly forbidden.

The only superiority that can be spoken of is having taqwa, meaning piety, being God conscious.

Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him says: "your Lord is one and your father Adam is one. There is no favor of an Arab over a foreigner, nor a foreigner over an Arab, and neither white skin over black skin, nor black skin over white skin Except by righteousness. "

So, okay, now that I explained the core basics of Islam, I feel more at ease now. So, now you can see this Elijah Muhammad's organization was really something totally different, human made religion, that was completely not a good representation of Islam. And unfortunately, Malcolm would come in touch with Elijah Muhammad.

He will be the most powerful minister in this organization. But then, of course, he will later explore the true Islam and we'll get to that in part 2. So let's continue talking about what happened in prison. What happened that changed him, really. Let's talk about that. Malcolm kept receiving letters from his family and had really deep conversations with his brother.

He started feeling disenlightenment in his mind, and he started questioning his previous life. And I'm gonna quote him because I truly think this is a really inspiring quote. He says, I have since learned, helping me to understand what then began to happen within me, that the truth can be quickly received, or received at all.

Only by the sinner who knows and admits that he is guilty of having sinned much. So stated in another way, only guilts admit it, except the truth. He quotes the Bible. He says, the one people whom Jesus could not help were the Pharisees. They didn't feel they needed any help. So this feeling of guilt.

prepared actually Malcolm to accept the truth and so Malcolm was really honest to himself. His honesty towards himself was actually the base of his transformation. So Malcolm was really moved by the teachings of the honorable Elijah Muhammad he calls. He started to writing letters to Elijah Muhammad, um, but his writing was so bad he couldn't even read himself and his brothers and sisters they kept on telling turn to Allah.

Pray to the east. Malcolm wrote 20 times one letter in order to make it readable and understandable and Elijah Muhammad wrote him back. Malcolm was really shocked when he saw his signature the messenger of Allah. Elijah Muhammad told him to have courage and he even put a five dollar bill In the letter, it says the black prisoners symbolize the white society's crime of keeping black men oppressed and deprived and ignorant, unable to get decent jobs, turning them into criminals.

Writing and reading again

So with all this information, all this reality that kicks in from several sides, for Malcolm, it was a lot. Because he, in prison, was the personification of evil. In many religions, there is this act of Getting on your knees. I know this is in Christianity, in the Hindu religion. It's also in the Islam. It is a humbling act, giving yourself over to your creator, admitting your guilt.

As this, as a Satan of the prison, he forced himself to get down many times into the praying position. And when he was finally able to get down, he didn't really know what to do. to say to Allah. While he was describing the situation, I don't think that Malcolm refers to the Muslim way of praying. So Muslims, they pray five times a day, uh, with specific movements.

While I was reading his biography, he doesn't really talk a lot about prayers till almost the end of his biography. Well, there is a reason. Malcolm didn't know how to pray. Till late in his life as a Muslim, after he left the nation of Islam. And when he started to learn the true Islam, that's also why he realizes that he has to pray five times a day.

He has to do specific movements. He had to do the ablution and so on. So the coming years in this rehabilitation prison, MAMs metamorphosis began. He got really busy focusing on sucking the knowledge of every book, whatever he could find. It's really interesting because Malcolm. Started to look at himself from another world as it was someone else hustling in the Harlem street.

Um, that one person that had the instincts of an animal, he calls. I really like what he says about this change that he was going through. He says, Like snow on the roof, my previous life's thinking pattern slid away from me. He kept receiving letters from his family and it was his only way of learning Elijah Muhammad's teachings.

But this overflow of emotion, he couldn't keep it any more longer in himself. So he started writing to all of his friends from, from Harlem, from Roxbury from Lansing, Michigan. So he started writing to everyone. But Malcolm got really frustrated because he couldn't express himself enough in his letters.

He didn't know enough words to express the emotions that he was going through. He was laughing at himself about the way he spoke. Because he could not express himself on letters, he started talking to other prisoners, but in slang language. He said, look daddy, let me pull your coat about a cat. Do you know Elijah Muhammad and such?

So he started with slang words, actually inviting people to Elijah Muhammad's teachings in prison. But the fact that he knew the slang language from the ghettos, from the ghetto, it helped him a lot during his service to Elijah Muhammad when he got out of the prison. We'll come into that. So years later.

When attending one of Malcolm's lecture, it will be hard to believe that he had only gone to school until the eighth grade. I mean, just look up one interview and look at the way he talks. He often mentioned that his real university was the prison. However, this problem that the fact that he had not a lot of words in his vocabulary, this became a problem.

So what he did was he picked up a book and he started reading. He came across words he never heard before. So, He realized that he needed to take a step back. Malcolm requested a dictionary and a tablet to write. He couldn't even write in a straight line initially, so he decided to work on both his vocabulary and his penmanship.

Starting from the first page of the dictionary, he started to write down every word that began with the letter A. It took him an entire day to complete the first page on his tablet. He began reading every word loud out, remembered them, and even slept on the words. He saw these words in his dreams. The next morning, those words were still playing in his head.

He continued this process for each letter of the alphabet, effectively learning all of the information that was written in the dictionary. He says that it was like having an encyclopedia in his mind. He learned about humanity. He learned about history. In any free moment he could find, Malcolm was reading something.

He mentioned that even if he had just 15 minutes of free time, you could not catch him without a book in his hand. Every night at 1am, very interestingly, the lights would be turned off by the guards. But fortunately, there was just a little sliver of light from the hall that, that shined in the corner of Malcolm's room.

So he would sit in that corner and his eyes would just quickly add up to that little light. And whenever he heard approaching footsteps, he would jump into bed. So unfortunately, reading in this little light took a toll on his eyes, and for the rest of his life, he had to wear glasses as a result. As I mentioned, there were instructors from Boston and Harvard, and some of the inmates were literally walking encyclopedias.

And they were all like professionals at debating.

DIscovering the world behind bars

So in front of Malcolm eyes, a new world opened up and he began to develop a deep interest in history. So the letters that he received from Elijah Mohammed emphasized how history had been whitened when written by a white man. With black history often ignored or misrepresented, this realization made Malcolm aware of how limited and how biased his school education had been for eight years.

Malcolm began hunting for books that discussed the history of black people specifically. One of the first book that left him a huge impression was an encyclopedia titled The Wonder of the World. It featured images of archaeological discoveries from outside of America. Malcolm was so taken by this book that he also bought it from his children and hoping they they would read it.

I will leave a link in the description again if you're interested in the books he read. So let's continue. So while he was reading it was the first time for him coming across the history of slavery. He was literally shaken, horrified. Learning about slavery impacted him so much that it became his number one argument.

When he became a minister for Elijah Muhammad, he read about stories of European women like Fanny Kimball. She was married to a rich American slave owner and tells the horror of slaves. That were traded from Africa. Imagine witnessing these stories from a white person. What I particularly find interesting and from the perspective as a person that believes in God, I see in this part of his life, Qadr, destiny.

Imagine he had no access to these books. Imagine this millionaire did not gift his unique collection to this prison. Would we still had the Malcolm we know today? I mean, look here. In this library, there was a whole collection of pamphlets of society against slavery in New England. He was able to read the stories of slaves like Ned Turner.

Ned Turner, the slave

So, Ned Turner was a slave and he was the head of the rebellion that took place in Virginia. The rebels killed between 55 and 65 white people and it was The deadliest slave revolts in the American history. We also have to think like, why do these rebellions take place on the first place? Why are these people being enslaved on the first place?

So he read about the famous historian Herodotus. Book by book, he was discovering and realizing how the white man brought suffering and pain to the colorful people. Black, brown, red, yellow. He says, I'm gonna quote from his book, I read I saw how the white man never has gone among the non white people, bearing the cross in the true manner and spirit of Jesus Christ's teachings, gentle, humble, and Christ like.

He saw how the collective white man, and I quote, had been actually nothing. But a piratical opportunist who used Faustian machinations to make his own Christianity his initial wedge in criminal conquest. So let's break down what he means by this. So Malcolm X gives us here the critical perspective on the historical actions of white Europeans.

particularly in the context of colonialism and the spread of Christianity. So by collective white man he means the European colonizers. These colonizers he sees as opportunists. He sees with these colonizers no difference between Pirates who seize opportunities for personal gain. The term Faustian machinations is so interesting.

It shows to me how well read Malcolm was. He refers to the character Faust. Faust is a fictional character who made a deal with the devil in exchange for knowledge and power, selling his humanity. In this context, it implies colonizers were willing to go really far, even engaging in taking unethical, inhumane actions to achieve their goals.

Malcolm suggests that Christianity was used as an excuse for their colonial conquest, fretting the religion. So with religion, these people justified their inhumane actions in order to achieve their desires, like the ethnic cleansing that is still in the century going on in many places on earth. Just recently, I just think about Benjamin Netanyahu's attempts to justify the killing of Palestinians with reference to the Torah.

Using people's value, sincere beliefs, and turning it to a weapon of ethnic cleansing, land thefts, disgusting. But in my personal opinion, I see a shift in narrative. I see sincere Jewish people standing against the use of their religion to this crimes against humanity. I see now people from different religions and beliefs showing up for each other.

And this gives me actually hope. Malcolm saw how they put labels like pagans, heathen, and barbaric on ancient non white cultures and civilizations. And unfortunately, the world hasn't changed since then. So these oppressed, ethnically cleansed people are referred as human animals. And I'm quoting from the Israeli defense minister just a few weeks ago.

Or worse, a Zionist academician said, it will be an insult to animals to call them animals. I think Malcolm's words and visions are still relevant till today. Unfortunately, times didn't change. He learned about the Great Britain's East India Company, Englishmen entering India in 1759 through promises and trickery, how the Indians resources were literally sucked by Great Britain.

Britain. Like, it felt like watching a movie, reading all of this.

Opium Wars

One of the things he learned and almost made me fall over my chair was the opium wars. Opium wars, it really shocked me because in the 18th and the 19th century, Great Britain and China, they were trading with each other, but there was an imbalance between trading.

China has a lot more. Things to offer to Great Britain than Great Britain had to China. So Great Britain did something so Inhumane you cannot believe it I was really shocked when I heard this but they started to trade opium and opium was firstly used as a medicine but then Chinese people started to use it as a drug.

So what happened was People got really addicted to opium and the situation in China was really bad. So at the end, Chinese government banned the manufacturing or the importation of opium. So Great Britain, they didn't stop. They had spies that will go to the shores of China to drop Opium. Chinese middlemen would grab that opium and continue to sell it in China.

So at the end, two wars were declared upon China. Imagine declaring war upon people who object to being narcotized. And what's really interesting that also Malcolm's mentioned is the Chinese were severely beaten with Chinese invented gunpowder. Imagine starting from trying to write on a straight line to reading philosophy and actually having some Having taste in philosophers.

Occidental philosophers was always his go to because he thought that oriental philosophers were influenced by occidental philosophers. So that's his view. So the switch in Malcolm's life. Imagine you lived your childhood in a continuous environment of oppression and silence. Being ridiculed casually because of your skin color, not knowing your past, your native language, your ancestors, your homeland, your, your history.

The history in school is whitened. And the only thing you hear is how heroic the whites are. However, how savage the color people are. Imagine you go in this environment, you will become a person that seeks way out to survive in life. I'm not justifying what Malcolm did in his youth, but. I'm just trying to reasoning in here.

When Malcolm got into prison, he was able to educate himself more than the educational system provided by America. He read, he saw, he perceived, he analyzed, he looked back and he realized. So Malcolm realized that himself, his brothers, his sisters, his father, mother, uncles, friends, neighbors, the black people, they were stuck in a centuries old paradox.

Where they are being systematically dehumanized, oppressed, exploited, and gaslighted. I call it gaslighting because every wrong act that black people did was magnified and manufactured as consent to dehumanize, to discriminate, to exploit, and to oppress them. This realization moved Malcolm's world.

Nothing, nothing will be ever the same for Malcolm. He calls all of his experience in prison being mentally alive. The ability to read awoke inside him some long dermined craving to be mentally alive. So Malcolm started to develop some views about black men's civil rights during prison. Malcolm calls the oppression of African Americans a simplified view.

According to Malcolm X, African Americans Should focus on their human rights before their civil rights. It's very important It's essential to secure basic human rights before addressing civil rights issues He says that black hard working people that invested blood and sweat in the state for 200 years But they are still getting no recognition or compensation for their hard work Malcolm was so intrigued by books that he says He would read for the rest of his life if he was battling the white man for black rights.

So in my opinion, I think Malcolm X was a generalist. He had curiosity and he had talents in many things. That's why he also says you can mention barely anything that I am not interested in. No one could get as much out of prison than Malcolm did. Prison enabled Malcolm X to study more intensively than he would have.

In a college, there would be too many distractions. He would probably get tunnel vision with the whitened educational system of the United States. He said if I attended college, I would not be able to study sometimes 15 hours a day. My prison time helped me to attack my ignorance by studying intensively and.

I can't blame him for that. In the corner of his room, he learned about the glory of the African continent. I want you to think about the artifacts being unearthed, repeatedly demonstrating the existence of advanced, delicate, and sophisticated civilizations among Black communities, particularly Sub Saharan Africa, where many of the ancestors of African Americans were Forcibly taken from their homelands, archaeologists are still discovering some of the most exquisite craftsmanships, sculptures, and other artifacts that were never witnessed by modern scholars.

So these invaluable artifacts are now on display in institutions such as the British Museum. I suddenly think about these posts that I saw from the British Museum. They were calling for help to find the stolen artifacts and everyone on social media went crazy telling them, what do you mean they're in the museum?

Black History

So the whitewashing had a huge effect on black Americans. Little innocent black children born of parents who believed that their race had no history. Black children seeing before they could talk that their parents considered themselves as inferior. They grew up living out their lives and probably die at an old age but all of their lives ashamed of being black.

The black man in America can never know his truly family name. Or even what tribe he was descended from. But for Malcolm, that will change right now. He found a new passion by joining the debates in the prison. He calls it his baptism into public speaking. Without really knowing what will become of him, one of the most influential Black leaders in American history.

He started his first Dawah, a. k. a. the invitation. So public speaking in front of an audience was as exhilarating to him as discovery of knowledge through reading. Before this, standing up and speaking before an audience never had crossed his mind. He was in the streets hustling, he was pushing dope. He was robbing.

He never saw himself in front of an audience. It's just so crazy. He didn't know that he would speak in coliseums, in arenas, in the greatest American universities, on radio, on television programs, speaking all over Egypt, Africa, England. Malcolm gives also a tip for debating. He says, If I would put myself in my opponent's place and decide how I would try to win if I had the other side.

And then, I would figure a way to knock down those points. Whatever topic he was assigned to, he would always find something. Above all, Okay, consider the black prisoners. These are individuals who are put behind bars, often for long periods by the action of white authorities. At the first place, the reason why Malcolm gets seven years of jail time is basically because of his race.

Normally, as I said, it will be something like two years. And these prisoners come from the most disadvantaged segments of the African American community. Those who have endured a lifetime of mistreatment and discrimination. They have rarely encountered a white person who didn't exploit or oppress them in, in some way.

In those times, we see black prisoners embracing the teachings of Elijah Muhammad. Because Elijah Muhammad's slogan, the white man is the evil, matched perfectly what black convicts had experienced. If they lived in America in other circumstances, they might had access to education. They might have become lawyers, doctors, scientists.

When they reflect on their history, Dating back to the arrival of the first slave ship, they see a pattern of oppression and exploitation that has been persisted for generations. Malcolm says that this realization may not be immediate. It could take days, months, or even years. Some may even never respond to this.

Some may even never realize this. Malcolm really criticized. Those who was trying to integrate, especially the intellectuals, those who have found relative comfort. Malcolm always was really furious about them, the fact that they are not using their positions to serve the oppressed black folks, but rather be happy with the crumbles white people's rich tables offered.

Out of prison

Malcolm got finally out of prison at the age of 27, after seven years. He did not go to Harlem yet, he went to his family in Detroit. His first stop was taking a Turkish bath. For those who might not be familiar, a Turkish bath is essentially, um, a covering session, uh, of soap and bubbles. You get a refreshing kickstart.

It's recommended, definitely. So he got, so when he got out of the prison after he took the Turkish bath, He got money from his sisters. He bought three things that will accompany him throughout the rest of his life. Very important. And it says a lot about Malcolm himself. I see these three things as the symbol of metamorphosis of Malcolm.

So the first one is eyeglasses. And I think he means he got eyeglasses. I think he means the Ray Ban eyeglasses. I think it's called, I think the model is called Clubmasters. So why do I know this? Because I had the exact same model. So during my university years, I felt it felt good to have the same glasses as Malcolm X.

So I had one too. So that's why I know it. And these eyeglasses, of course, were for reading anywhere. The second thing is a suitcase. This suitcase was necessary for traveling across the world later, of course. And the third one was a wristwatch to keep track of time. Malcolm was actually preparing himself for the life that will come to him.

He was actually traveling so much that his wife kept separate suits ready so he can just grab one and leave immediately. Malcolm was also a really time conscious man. He says, I live by my watch. He says, even when I am using my car, I drive by my watch, not my speedometer. Time is more important to me than distance.

Then you have me forgetting what day it is.

Muslim Routine

So Malcolm was finally able to feel the warmth of a family. He was invited to share his brother Wilfred's home. It was actually a healing change for him. When he was in prison, Malcolm would always ask for a description of a Muslim home routine. He learned that the father prepares the way for his family in the morning and performing the morning ablutions.

Slowly, everyone wakes up to prepare for the morning prayer. The wife, the children, and so on. So what's the ablution? It's actually a preparation to perform the daily prayers. It's the purification of the whole body. So Malcolm saw the structure in black Muslims houses. Each morning he would see how each family member, even the children, meeting each other for the new day's first time, softly, pleasantly, As salamu alaykum, peace be upon to you.

Then they would get response, Wa alaykum as salam, peace be upon you too. He learned words like, Allahu Akbar, God is great.

I'm talking now about 1950. So the black Muslims were coming together on Wednesday, Fridays, and Sundays. They were meeting in Detroit. And to be more specific, temple number one, it's the temple that Elijah Muhammad started. And for each temple, there was a minister assigned to it. So if you remember, I described in detail the black communities in New York, in Boston, in Michigan.

So now, There is a huge change. So let me tell you, children, especially, they were behaving in a respectful way to each other, but also to their elders. Malcolm saw for the first time, black people being so proud of themselves for being black, he saw how much respect women got in the black Muslim community.

Everyone was talking to each other in, in a very respectful way, like Salam brother, Salam sister. Madam, sir, even children were speaking each other with these terms. As the first part of Malcolm X's series comes slowly to an end, I think it's now evident for you to understand that Malcolm was actually gearing himself up to something that he never saw coming.

Throughout his life, Malcolm had been a dedicated activist, actually, from the beginning. Malcolm X became this well spoken, well read individual. And Elijah Muhammad could definitely make use of someone as idealistic and as talented as Malcolm X. Throughout his life, Malcolm had been a dedicated activist driven by a sense of urgency.

Elijah Muhammad was a really important figure in Malcolm X's life. But Malcolm X's growing success in appearances on famous radio and television shows Promoting Elijah Muhammad's teachings and his connections with powerful individuals would eventually raise tensions within the organization. Malcolm X's growth will be hindered within the nation of Islam by the orders of Elijah Muhammad himself.


But this is just the beginning of Malcolm X's incredible journey. In a second part to the story, we will delve deeper into things that Malcolm never expected that Elijah Muhammad would do. His friendship with Muhammad Ali. We will explore how he rose from the ashes of his past and the impact of his pilgrimage to Mecca, learning the true religion of Islam.

Leading him back to his African roots. And finally, we're going to talk about his assassination. Thanks for tuning into this episode. I hope I didn't bore you. I really tried to be careful and I really tried to be respectful towards Malcolm and his memories. And I know that Malcolm X's life is not an easy one and also definitely not easy to tell, but I really loved speaking and learning about him and I'm happy that I finally, after all these years, had the chance to read and speak about this man.

So there you have it. If you had any value from this episode, you can follow me, if you haven't already, on whatever platform you're listening for. Also, please follow me on my Instagram page, thethinkwork. podcast and come say Salaam to me. I hope you enjoyed it as I did. I will see you in part two. Salaama.

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