Home » Book Club » Page 463

Page 463

That’s right, I fell 24 pages short of finishing “A Life of Reinvention: Malcolm X.”  Oops.  But I’m still ready to discuss.  Did anyone (besides Jameil) hang in and finish on time?  Okay, let’s go:

1.  I was shocked – yep shocked – at Marable’s dislike of Malcolm X.  The strong dislike he had for his subject was almost palpable.  Snide comments, unproven tidbits thrown in, and condescension ran rampant through this book.  Let me state – I don’t really have any heroes.  I’m not a worshiper of people.  So I didn’t hold Malcolm X in some sort of god-like view before reading this book, nor do I now.  But I get the feeling that Marable wrote this book with a strong determination to discredit Malcolm X and  the work for which he is known.

2.  I learned quite a bit about the Nation of Islam.  Who knew?  I always thought that the Nation of Islam were “just” black Muslims.  I didn’t realize that this Fard fellow started the NOI and then transferred leadership to Elijah (Poole) Muhammad before he disappeared.  Do what?  And that whole Yacub’s History?  I don’t know how I missed all of this.

3.  It’s been ages since I read “The Autobiography of Malcolm X,” and I now want to read it again – and soon – so that I can note the differences between what Marable wrote and what Malcolm X told Alex Haley.

4.  This book provided a wonderful synopsis of how and why Malcolm X split from the NOI and became a “true” Muslim.  As a pretty peaceable person, I was surprised at how much anger and hatred Malcolm’s former friends and associates displayed when he left the NOI.

5.  I feel like Marable just thew “controversial” tidbits in the book and then just quickly moved on without ever proving his allegations.  I’m referring to Malcolm’s homosexual experience, his affair with the Parisian woman (name escapes me), his relationship with Sharon 6X, and Betty’s affair with Charles 37X Kenyatta.  What was written about these incidents was not enough to convince me that they actually occurred.

6.  What this book did for me was make me more curious about the life of Malcolm X.  I was hoping for insight into his personal life, and don’t feel as though this book gave me that.  I suppose that Mr. X was so very private and reserved that we’ll never really “know” him the way we may feel we know other historical figures.

Anyhoo, those are some of my thoughts…what did you think of the book?  Were you surprised by anything you read?  Has your interest in Malcolm X been piqued?

Comment away.  I’ll be back periodically with my two cents!



15 thoughts on “Page 463

  1. Ugh… I’m such a flipping slacker. I didn’t crack this book. 😦

    I’m gonna come back and comment all late after everyone has moved on…

  2. I was also incredibly annoyed by how much Marable saw fit to insert himself into the book with things he couldn’t have possibly known. There was flimsy “proof” of the affairs, then he also claimed to be able to draw conclusions based on other things about how Malcolm would have felt. What?? For instance, he said Malcolm wouldn’t have approved of affirmative action in the 1990s. Wait. You just spent the last hundred or more pages talking about his evolution toward the end of his life but you want to negate the idea that he might have continued to evolve THIRTY YEARS later??? That doesn’t even make sense!

    I didn’t necessarily feel like he was out to discredit him (read the epilogue) as to make his legacy more accurate, which will absolutely require some tarnishing of the image. I did NOT agree with some of the ways he set about doing so. I did enjoy how he debunked some of those myths of civil rights unity people like to circulate. And I found it necessary for him to use Malcolm’s own words to show X hadn’t yet made the complete transformation from NOI ideas at the end but was still grappling with black separatism and Pan-Africanism. I didn’t need the day by day accounting of the last year or so of his life. That belongs on his research website.

    I also knew very little about the NOI. I felt like I learned more than I needed to know in some respects. There was way too much exposition in this book for me. I felt like Marable got distracted on tangents, showing his extensive research into things that didn’t necessarily directly relate to X. I was less surprised by the vitriol led by Malcolm’s former friends/associates and more disappointed. I wasn’t at all surprised by the discrediting but to call for his death?? No more than thugs. And with that mentality, you will NEVER be accepted into Orthodox Islamic circles.

    I’ll admit that Malcolm X was my favorite dead guy before I read this book. I loved the Autobiography! (And I thought he was striking.) I was appalled by his relationship with Betty and his misogyny toward women. I’m sure if I’d paid more attention I would’ve known at least about his feelings toward women.

    At the end of this book, I definitely wanted to know more about Betty & their relationship. And the mystery of who actually killed him and the people behind it! Oh my goodness! I am SALIVATING at the thought of the release of those records one day!!!!! I also wanted to know more about how Malcolm really felt about certain issues and I felt a sense of loss that we’ll never know where his ideas may have landed for a time. Then I thought, how much of this do we really need to know?

    I REALLY wished Haley and Marable were alive to comment on these books!!! Oh the discussions!! I think a great class would dissect both books and talk about what differences might have appeared in Spike Lee’s film had this book been available at the time.

    • Okay – I totally felt like Marable could’ve written two books with as much information on the NOI that was contained in this one.

      I was – naively enough – really surprised by their reaction to his defection. If someone from my church, say the pastor, left I wouldn’t think that killing him would be the way to handle his departure. And I can’t imagine that If I did feel that he should be killed I could actually rally enough people to carry out his execution.

      I’m mad that you have a favorite dead guy. And now feel the need to find one of my own. The relationship described between he and Betty surprised me. I couldn’t reconcile his comments and actions with his repeated requests that she and his girls be taken care of. I always thought (imagined) him to be more of a family man.

      I wasn’t surprised by his attitudes and comments regarding other women – I’d imagine them pretty consistent with the times, the people with whom he associated, and the NOI.

      So, are you going to work on a curriculum for that course???

      • He absolutely could’ve written AT LEAST two books! I’m sure w/as much of the information I found unnecessary, there was twice as much that didn’t make the final cut.

        I actually have 2 favorite dead guys. The other is Cary Grant. At least the book by his daughter might help my estimation of him! LOL

        But coupled with his requests that Betty & the girls were taken care of were the moves to have the proceeds of his book go to his organizations rather than his wife and children. I understand wanting to support your organizations but he knew he was a target. He saw how the NOI dealt with defectors and fielded their incessant threats. Even if a portion of the proceeds were to go to the NOI or MMI, some or most should have gone for the care of his family. I wonder with the crumbling of the MMI where the proceeds have gone/go.

        I will definitely work on a curriculum for that course! I want it to be a joint undertaking with the English and/or History or African-American Studies department(s). You know how big interdisciplinary studies are in academia these days!

      • @ Jameil – I was under the impression that he asked for profits from the book to go to the NOI, not his later organizations which were founded after the split. I may go back and see if I can clarify. But probably not!

        That would be an awesome course. If you end up in my neck of the woods, I’d take it!

        @ Psonya – Why ma’am? Just why????

      • After he split from the NOI, he asked for proceeds from his book to go to the MMI. Woohoo! I already have a taker for my course! IDK who my least fave dead guy. Why would I single out someone who’s already dead to direct energy toward?? Crazy. LOLOL

  3. I’ll admit, I only wanted to read the juicy parts. Hubby’s fraternity just had a discussion on the book, so I’ll pick his brain and come back with his (and the brothers’) opinion later.

      • The gentlemen veered off into other discussions (I suspect none of them finished the book either). They spoke about Malcolm as a father, and how he wasn’t really the family man they thought–Alex Haley is one of his daughters’ godfathers, and bought a birthday present, Malcolm had forgotten the child’s birthday. They also talked about their perception of Malcolm before and after the book.

        I agree, the “juicy” parts weren’t juicy at all. I was hoping for some actual evidence, but it seemed like Marable just wanted to tarnish the family’s reputation. Hubby and I were talking about the book and thought if these things were true, someone had to have had some pictures or tapes or SOMETHING. I mean, they got Martin on tape, didn’t they?

      • Inner Diva ~ I was surprised at how very unconcerned about his immediate family Malcolm seemed to be. In my mind, I’ve always pictured him as a stern, but loving father who spent a good deal of time with his children. I wonder if things would’ve been different if he’d had a son?

        That’s what I kept thinking – Marable just threw stuff out and then moved on. Pictures? Letters? Anything? Anything? Yeah…I think he made a lot of stuff up!

  4. First, I wanna thank all of you book lovers and readers for deciding to have this online intelletual exercise. I almost feel studious: reading, reflecting AND discussing. I like it. Thanks.

    As for the book and the concept of reinventing Malcolm. From my pages and pages of sometimes overdone, biased, subjective reading I found that Malcolm was creative, a quick learner and a manipulator. He was always aware of the odds of his succeeding. He used those odds to make things happen in his favor — most of the time. He did not like the mundane, 8 to 5 routine of work. That does not show him as lazy. To me that shows unbridled creativity. YOu cnnot confine a creative person in a cubicle or box to get the results that the masses already produce. Malcolm used his creativity to get over and excape the ordinary.

    As he developed and settled into his various personae he adjusted as need how he dealt with the world and the people in it. I believe he had a steong love and devotion for family. ALthough he had a criminal record, committed crimes and served times in prison, he never really wanted to embarrass his family, the family name or what he knew his parents, in particular, stood for. Do you realize how avant garde the LIttles were to profess Pan-Africanism and spent their limited resources, time, his mother’s dignity and sanity and even Earl’s life to live out the family’s beliefs? That is profound enough to make anyone question what you stand for,

    Malcolm did what we all do: adapt to the situation so that we manage to come through as safe, productive and happy as possible. Malcolm is yet another example of genius without direction to achieve his highest potential. Can you imagine what could have been had he had a mentor in the public service arena?

    I had the opportunity to live throught the days of the NOI being a powerful force in the US. I knew when Malcolm appeared on the scene with all the charisma that could cause others to pay attention. That’s why the FBI kept tabs o him. I do not think that the author was accurate with all of his accusations, may of which were loosely founded in speculation and varying reports. I do not think the author had much regard or respect for Malcolm’s impact on this world.

    I have other things to say. However, I have gone over for right now. Now I’m ready for an exchange. If not, I’ll add more later.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s