"The Autobiography of Malcolm X," Vocabulary from Chapters 1-4

February 12, 2014
"The Autobiography of Malcolm X" bears witness to the gradual development of a revolutionary consciousness that endeavored to change the world.

Learn these word lists for the autobiography: Chapters 1-4, Chapters 5-9, Chapters 10-13, Chapters 14-19
My father, the Reverend Earl Little, was a Baptist minister, a dedicated organizer for Marcus Aurelius Garvey’s U.N.I.A.
With the help of such disciples as my father, Garvey, from his headquarters in New York City’s Harlem, was raising the banner of black-race purity and exhorting the Negro masses to return to their ancestral African homeland—a cause which had made Garvey the most controversial black man on earth.
Soon, nearly everywhere my father went, Black Legionnaires were reviling him as an “uppity nigger” for wanting to own a store, for living outside the Lansing Negro district, for spreading unrest and dissension among “the good niggers.”
I told them how East Lansing harassed us so much that we had to move again, this time two miles out of town, into the country.
My father was also belligerent toward all of the children, except me.
I actually believe that as anti-white as my father was, he was subconsciously so afflicted with the white man’s brainwashing of Negroes that he inclined to favor the light ones, and I was his lightest child.
It came directly from the slavery tradition that the “ mulatto,” because he was visibly nearer to white, was therefore “better.”
By that I mean that I don’t know a town with a higher percentage of complacent and misguided so-called “middle-class” Negroes—the typical status-symbol-oriented, integration-seeking type of Negroes.
I knew that the collections my father got for his preaching were mainly what fed and clothed us, and he also did other odd jobs, but still the image of him that made me proudest was his crusading and militant campaigning with the words of Marcus Garvey.
“No one knows when the hour of Africa’s redemption cometh. It is in the wind. It is coming. One day, like a storm, it will be here.”
Mr. Lyons had been a famous football star at Mason High School, was highly thought of in Mason, and consequently he now worked around that town in menial jobs.
She would speak sharply to the man at the grocery store for padding the bill, telling him that she wasn’t ignorant, and he didn’t like that.
Some kind of psychological deterioration hit our family circle and began to eat away our pride.
Perhaps it was the constant tangible evidence that we were destitute.
She was the one who, years later, would tell me something that I remembered a long time: “Malcolm, there’s one thing I like about you. You’re no good, but you don’t try to hide it. You are not a hypocrite.”
Whites have always hidden or justified all of the guilts they could by ridiculing or blaming Negroes.
Right then was when our home, our unity, began to disintegrate.
The woman who had brought me into the world, and nursed me, and advised me, and chastised me, and loved me, didn’t know me.
They matched me with a white boy, a novice like myself, named Bill Peterson.
But the worst of my humiliations was my younger brother Reginald’s attitude: he simply never mentioned the fight.
With my deportment record, I wasn’t really shocked when the decision came that I had been expelled.
This is the sort of kindly condescension which I try to clarify today, to these integration-hungry Negroes, about their “liberal” white friends, these so-called “good white people”—most of them anyway.
He may stand with you through thin, but not thick; when the chips are down, you’ll find that as fixed in him as his bone structure is his sometimes subconscious conviction that he’s better than anybody black.
Anyway, from my experience as a little boy at the Lansing school, I had become fairly adept at avoiding the white-girl issue—at least for a couple of years yet.
It was easier than my mother’s plight, with eight of us always underfoot or running around.
I couldn’t have feigned indifference if I had tried to.
I’ve often thought that if Mr. Ostrowski had encouraged me to become a lawyer, 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’re begging to “integrate.”
This was the snooty-black neighborhood; they called themselves the “Four Hundred,” and looked down their noses at the Negroes of the black ghetto, or so-called “town” section where Mary, my other half-sister, lived.
Then the native-born New Englanders among them looked down upon recently migrated Southern home-owners who lived next door, like Ella.
“I’m with an old family” was the euphemism used to dignify the professions of white folks’ cooks and maids who talked so affectedly among their own kind in Roxbury that you couldn’t even understand them.
I’d seen some pretty conks, but when it’s the first time, on your own head, the transformation, after the lifetime of kinks, is staggering.
They never had seen the feather-lightness that she gave to Undying, a completely fresh style—and they were connoisseurs of styles.
If a showtime crowd liked your performance, when you came off you were mobbed, mauled, grasped, and pummeled like the team that’s just taken the series.
The next time I saw her, she was a wreck of a woman, notorious around black Roxbury, in and out of jail.
Defying her grandmother, she had started going out late and drinking liquor.

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Wednesday February 26th 2014, 7:59 PM
Comment by: Lyn A. (OR)
Many short, but powerful words in this list.
Saturday February 21st 2015, 2:37 AM
Comment by: Janelle T.
Lovely reminder to read that book again. What a unique intelligent individual he was and what a grand collaborator Alex Haley. Thank you.

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