SOC120 Changes of Malcolm X’s Understanding of Human Behavior Paper

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Reflect on the entire book. How has Malcolm X’s understanding of human behavior changed? What about it has stayed the same?

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Book: Autobiography of Malcolm X by Alex Haley, 2015.

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In the colonialist history, black people drawn from a different location in the African continent had been taken to the United States to work for the white man. Through their entire time, they had worked for the white man and served him in all aspects of their lives. The white supremacists controlled the black men in all aspects of his life and regulated what he did and were not supposed to do. In the wake of black-liberation, Malcolm X was fighting for the rights of the black people by means of first liberating them from the Christianity religion which he termed as being the white man’s religion and the religion that was meant to brainwash them to follow the “white devil.” By this, he advocated for the black-Americans to follow the religion of Islam terming it to be the only religion that would liberate them from the evils of the white man. His actions about the Christian religion was a reverberation of Karl Maxes thoughts on religion and the no meaning that it had to those that held on it (Haley, 2015). Haley (2015), explains that Malcolm X advocated for black liberation, a black-controlled economy, and black self-defense and he encouraged racial pride. Malcolm X viewed Christianity as simply a faith for the white man that was meant to brainwash the average black man to remain under the “masters” leash. He strongly criticized and condemned the white man by calling them “white devils” for the huge loathing and oppression that they had on the people of color. On his different speech, he could be quoted saying that the white man had brainwashed the people of color that Malcolm referred to as brothers and sisters. He argued that the white man had trained them to worship a white God that they had not seen and that the white man had made them to shout and pray until they died. Despite all this, it is argued that he had an intimate relationship with Christianity and Christians. Despite his obvious connection and affiliation with Christianity and the faithful’s themselves, he had a deep association with the nation and Islam people and this much influenced his individual life and spirituality as well as his career. It could be argued that it was hypocritical of him to support the nation of Islam because he later came to doubt the quality of leadership of one Elijah Muhammad, the only person that he at one time revered as a prophet. According to the Autobiography of Malcolm X, Malcolm’s idea of family and the male role change after leaving prison was surprising for him. Although, while incarcerated Malcolm learned of the ways that Muslim family functions, experiencing it firsthand was quite fascinating to him. After prison, he decided to live in Detroit, MI with his brother, Wildred, who himself was Muslim along with his family. When Malcolm first arrived, he learned through observing his brother family that Muslim family operates routinely, and each act had a significance. For example, Wildred, the father, the family protector, and provider, was the first to rise. He prepared the way for the family, and next came the wife and children. Malcolm’s role at that time was to perform the morning ablutions with Wilfred, which consist of saying aloud before washing first the right hand, then the left hand, making sure that the teeth were thoroughly brushed, followed by three rinses including the nostril, etc. Each family member, including the children, was to greet each other softly. They would pray as a family in unison with the sun near the horizon, facing east to be in unity with the rest of the brothers and sisters in the entire Muslim world. There, at noon and three in the afternoon, they were to conduct an ablution and softly meditate. When Wildred introduced Malcolm to the Nation of Islam, he was captivated on the fact there was an atmosphere among Black people who had learned to be proud they were black, who learned to love one another instead of being jealous and suspicious. Also, he was thrilled on how Muslim men used both hands to grasp each other's arms while smiling and showing happiness toward one another; the women were well honored and respected. Because of what he observed, Malcolm became more intrigued, he attended more meetings with Wildred. He also had the opportunity to meet with Elijah Muhammad, with whom he created a special bond. Malcolm expresses that Allah blessed him to remain true and firm with his faith, which he eventually became a minister. Although Malcolm and Betty had a different marriage and love compared from the American modern ideal of marriage and love. After a day at the Museum Nature of History, upon hearing some personal news about Betty, he thought that he can help her by marrying her. After speaking to Elijah Muhammad about a very serious step he wanted to take, he got the courage to ask Betty to marry him. He called up her work employment and asked her over the phone, at which she says yes. Instead of a traditional wedding, they got married in court. It was a brief and short plan. Throughout the years, they welcomed four daughters; Malcolm expressed that by now he truly loved Betty and that she understood him. Compared to the Western world, Islam teaches that men are to look into the woman, and she is to do the same. Love is not only about the physical, but also consist of behaviors, thoughts, likes and dislike, that’s what defines a beautiful woman and wife. But in the Western world, love really lusts. When a man’s wife physical beauty fails, he is no longer attracted to her. Lastly, three ways in which their family is functional, according to the Functionalist perspective, is that their family provides emotional security and release from everyday stress and meeting the economic needs. Betty always made sure that when Malcolm came home, he had some quiet moments to himself, she understood the struggle he was facing during his travels (Warm Bath Theory). In addition, while Malcolm was traveling, Betty stayed home with the children, equipping them with basic skills and society's values, so they can work and integrate into society. She always made sure Malcolm was present at home. Also, Betty was having a financial issue before the marriage, and now that she is married, she has the extra support she needed in order to finish school, and which provided a sense of security for the family. Running head: THE EXPERIENCE OF WOMEN AND AFRICAN AMERICANS 1 Similarities During the historical period of Malcolm X’s lifetime, both women and African Americans were minority groups that experienced similar discrimination. The African Americans were forcefully brought to the West from their homes to be enslaved and tortured. This experience was also faced by women who were kidnapped, slaved in chains, raped, and beaten. Both minority groups were discriminated based on their color, and were given a homemade and brainwashed race that was no longer of its true color, “the negro” (Haley, 2015). Additionally, both women and African Americans were discriminated based on their religion. The African Americans were expected to worship their white slave masters, but in prison, most inmates were transformed into Muslims which represented black pride and nationalism as black Muslims. Women experienced discrimination based on religion in which they praised their white masters but most decided to join the Muslim religion. There were certain rules placed for both groups whereby they were not expected to eat pork as it was considered to be sinful. Additionally, they had to worship their white masters who were men just like them. Differences On the other hand, there were differences in the experience of women and African Americans during the period of Malcolm X’s lifetime. This was evident when white women during the time were stereotyped for being involved with black men. For white men, this was an automatic murder flag since the white women were forbidden to associate with black men intimately or physically. Also, the difference in their experiences was that for African Americans, it was not easy to go shopping in places where whites dominated without being THE EXPERIENCE OF WOMEN & AFRICAN AMERICANS IN MALCOLM X’S TIME 2 noticed. However, unlike African Americans, women would go for shopping openly, go to houses and ring bells pretending to be saleswomen or poll-takers just to get a view of any valuables in the house (Haley, 2015). They would succeed without any suspicion or attracting any attention. Additionally, unlike African Americans, women showed up more at meetings or demonstrations not only fighting against prejudice for racism but also gender. In Malcolm X’ s period, the civil male African American leaders did not consider women to be leaders. The male activists were sexist and prejudiced towards women and their roles in society. How the Experiences Have Changed In the world today, the experiences of these two minority groups have changed since the period of Malcolm X. currently, most women have fought for equality rules and laws in various fields. For example, in politics, there has been an emerging increase in the number of women who apply for a position in the government as well as those who are actually elected to rule. This is a major change considering the discrimination and prejudice women faced in Malcolm X’s historical period. Also, there are changed for women based on job positions, salaries and promotions in the workplace. On the other hand, African Americans have also experienced some changes based on securing a job among the whites or a position in the government. Also, they are no longer highly discriminated based on their race on issues such as the provision of infrastructure, school, and health amenities. However, the African Americans today can still be said to be minority groups in the United States as well as the native people from Mexico and the LGBT (Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, Transgender) community. This is because they experience discrimination in terms of police brutality and based on their sexual preferences. Although the situation has greatly improved for both women and African Americans since Malcolm X’s THE EXPERIENCE OF WOMEN & AFRICAN AMERICANS IN MALCOLM X’S TIME period, there are still issues concerning discrimination, prejudice, and stereotyping among these groups. Reference Haley, A. (2015). The Autobiography of Malcolm X: as told to Alex Haley. New York. 3 THE EXPERIENCE OF WOMEN & AFRICAN AMERICANS IN MALCOLM X’S TIME 4 During the historical period of Malcolm X’s lifetime, both women and African Americans were minority groups that experienced similar discrimination. The African Americans were forcefully brought to the West from their homes to be enslaved and tortured. This experience was also faced by women who were kidnapped, slaved in chains, raped, and beaten. Both minority groups were discriminated based on their color and were given a homemade and brainwashed race that was no longer of its true color, “the negro” (Haley, 2015). Additionally, both women and African Americans were discriminated based on their religion. The African Americans were expected to worship their white slave masters, but in prison, most inmates were transformed into Muslims which represented black pride and nationalism as black Muslims. Women experienced discrimination based on religion in which they praised their white masters, but most decided to join the Muslim religion. There were certain rules placed for both groups whereby they were not expected to eat pork as it was considered to be sinful. Additionally, they had to worship their white masters who were men just like them. On the other hand, there were differences in the experience of women and African Americans during the period of Malcolm X’s lifetime. This was evident when white women during the time were stereotyped for being involved with black men. For white men, this was an automatic murder flag since the white women were forbidden to associate with black men intimately or physically. Also, the difference in their experiences was that for African Americans, it was not easy to go shopping in places where whites dominated without being noticed. However, unlike African Americans, women would go for shopping openly, go to houses and ring bells pretending to be saleswomen or poll-takers just to get a view of any valuables in the house (Haley, 2015). They would succeed without any suspicion or attracting any attention. Additionally, unlike African Americans, women showed up more at meetings or demonstrations not only fighting against prejudice for racism but also gender. In Malcolm X’ s period, the civil male African American leaders did not consider women to be leaders. The male activists were sexist and prejudiced towards women and their roles in society. In the world today, the experiences of these two minority groups have changed since the period of Malcolm X. Currently, most women have fought for equality rules and laws in various fields. For example, in politics, there has been an emerging increase in the number of women who apply for a position in the government as well as those who are actually elected to rule. This is a major change considering the discrimination and prejudice women faced in Malcolm X’s historical period. Also, there are changed for women based on job positions, salaries and promotions in the workplace. On the other hand, African Americans have also experienced some changes based on securing a job among the whites or a position in the government. Also, they are no longer highly discriminated based on their race on issues such as the provision of infrastructure, school, and health amenities. However, the African Americans today can still be said to be minority groups in the United States as well as the native people from Mexico and the LGBT (Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, Transgender) community. This is because they experience discrimination in terms of police brutality and based on their sexual preferences. Although the situation has greatly improved for both women and African Americans since Malcolm X’s period, there are still issues concerning discrimination, prejudice, and stereotyping among these groups. According to the Autobiography of Malcolm X, people of color experience structural barriers that prevent them from experiencing social mobility. People of color are being oppressed by the White man as a way for them to continue to discriminate against them. For example, Malcolm states that the white man was not too unusual if he had a ten, twenty, thirty, forty or fifty thousand-dollars–a-year-job, and as for a Negro man, he made less than five thousand. A Negro man who made even five thousand in the white man’s world was unusual. The reason may be the lack of jobs and opportunity for the Negro man. Also, Malcolm expressed about a friend he had name Billy. Billy had made enough money to own a creole restaurant. After a while, his restaurant was closed. Even though Malcolm didn’t know why it was sold or what had happened to Billy, most likely because of the lack of jobs in the Black community, Billy wasn’t able to afford his restaurant anymore. All of this shows that people of color can never experience social mobility due to lack of resources available to them. Another example from Malcolm X of structural barriers that prevent people of color from experiencing social mobility is housing. Compared to White neighborhoods, Malcolm states that the ghettos the white man has built for us. They forced us not to aspire to greater things, but to view everyday living as survival, and in that kind of community survival is respected. White neighborhoods were nicer and safer to live in, and unlike the ghettos who were filthy, filled with violence, etc. The ghettos didn’t offer a lot for those who lived in it, rent was high, and many people couldn’t afford it. Because rent was high, many people had to scrape by to live, leaving them little room to work on their dreams or business. In addition, these barriers are related to power, prestige, and property. Power is defined as the ability to influence others to do your bidding. According to Malcolm, negroes are so busy trying to impress on the white man they are different from those that they can't see they are only helping the white man to keep his low opinion on negroes. People of color will never be in power because of their behavior and mental thinking will never change. Instead of thinking of ways to climb, according to Malcolm, they are helping the white man gain more opportunities in life, and those that have an income that equivalent to five thousand dollars, rather than help the community, move away. Prestige is defined as the respect of regard given to an individual and the white man lacked respect for people of color. The black man had all the strikes against him, that the white man kept all the black man down, under his heel, unable to get anywhere. They didn’t view them as part of society, which is why they created the ghettoes for them and didn’t provide resources for them as a way for them to always be under their heels. Property is defined as owning means of production. People of color hardly owned any properties, and those that did had a hard time keeping up with the payments which caused them to sell it. Because the ghettoes were expensive and lack of jobs, many couldn’t afford to own businesses, and a lot of the businesses were owned by non-colored people. To agree and disagree, people of color had a hard time succeeding and experiencing social mobility. Lastly, I think these barriers have improved since Malcolm X’s lifetime. Although people of color are not fully on top and still experience racism, the conditions have changed. People of color are now owning businesses, getting out of the ghettoes and moving into nice neighborhoods and gaining employment. People of color are now loving and accept themselves. People of color may not advance as much as the white man, but they are working to get there. To ascribe status means that one is born with, either race, gender or age, and to achieve status means that one earns by doing something, such as, salesmen, janitor, lawyer, warden, etc. Malcolm X holds many ascribe and achieve statuses throughout his life. In chapter 3 and 4, the ascribe status that Malcolm X holds is his race which is Black, and the achieve status he holds is the experience of being a shoeshine boy. Although, he has move to a new city, he gain more of the city life experience, obtain a new job and met some new friends. Malcolm’s ascribe status as a Black man was given to him at birth, and being Black is something that Malcolm can never erase. Because ascribe status is given to us when we are born and is involuntary, Malcolm ascribe status contributes to who he really is, like his aunt Ella, he is a strong independent and dominant person who loves the color of skin, regardless of what society thinks. Malcolm states, “These Hill Negroes were breaking their backs to imitate White people, they pride themselves on being incomparably more cultured, cultivated, but forgetting that they're Black like the rest.” Even though, Malcolm can camouflage his ethnicity like he does his age, he cannot change that his parents are both of African descendants, and that he will always face racism, discrimination, and stereotype as a Black man. In addition, Malcolm obtain his achieve status when he worked as a shoeshine boy at Roseland State Ball. He was referred by a friend name Shorty and his position was to set up his shoe stand, with rags and brushes to make sure everything was in place. While he is shining shoes, he must keep a watch on the customers inside, leaving the urinal, so he can bring a towel and charge them making extra tips. The reason this is an achieve status is that Malcolm wasn’t born with the skills of a shoeshine- boy, he had to go through training with Freddie, the owner, to become experienced at shoeshine. Every day he could get better until he mastered the position. He earned his position; it wasn’t given to him because of who is he. Imagine if he wasn’t good at the first try, Freddie would have let him go. Finally, Malcolm rite of passage of conking his hair with Shorty made him realize how much self-hate he inquired inside. To conk his hair, he brought a can of Red Devil lye, two eggs and two medium size eggs. With those Shorty peel the potatoes into a thin slice and placed them in a mason jar, then stir them with a wooden spoon while pouring a little over a half of the dye. It looks like a jelly starched glop, then placed it on his head and let it burn a little. After the process has ended, he saw that his hair was straight, and at that moment, he saw how stupid he was, realized how much he went through to look “White." For Malcolm, this was a big step to selfdegradation, he had joined a multitude of Blacks who are brainwashed into believing Black people are inferior and White people were superior; he expresses that Black people will violate and mutilate their God created bodies to look “pretty” by White standards, lost their sense of identity, and admired any Black who didn’t conk or had the sense to get rid of it; he has never any women, White or Black, express any admiration for a conk. After that experience, Malcolm never conked his hair again.
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Running head: MALCOLM X UNDERSTANDING OF HUMAN BEHAVIOR

Malcolm X Understanding of Human Behavior
Institution Affiliation
Date

1

MALCOLM X UNDERSTANDING OF HUMAN BEHAVIOR

2

Malcolm X is one of the religious leaders under the influence of Elijah Mohammed; he
played a vital role in the reforms of the 1960s in which he advocated for and dedicated his life
for the equality of all races in the United States. He drew his ferocity from his father who was a
reverend and who had very strongly believe in self-determination and fought for the unity of
people of color. Malcolm through his youth and growing up experienced humble treatment from
the white people and this gave him a negative misconception of all the white men and shaped the
development of his beliefs in black liberation (Haley, 2015).
Growing up, he used to observe various black-Americans trying their best to be lik...


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