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Malcolm X calls himself as "the angriest black man alive" but in many moments in the...

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idominate | Student | eNoter

Posted August 3, 2012 at 12:55 AM via web

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Malcolm X calls himself as "the angriest black man alive" but in many moments in the narrative, he is cool and collected.  Discuss the different sides of his temperament that are explored in his autobiography.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted August 3, 2012 at 1:19 AM (Answer #1)

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Part of the answer to this is that Malcolm X has fully identified himself as someone connected to a larger entity.  The private anger that Malcolm feels about events in his own life and events in the public arena are ones that are channeled through a persona that is meant to serve as inspiration for others.  Malcolm X's self- description of being "the angriest Black man alive" is valid.  Yet, Malcolm also understands that he is seen by millions as a symbol.  He must demonstrate that anger can be productive, empowering, and serve as a way to connect to others.  When he talks about horrific events in his life such as the death of his father, the institutionalization of his mother, and the betrayal he experienced at the hands of the Nation of Islam and its leadership, one is struck by the reflection offered.  It is a testament to how Malcolm believes that anger does not have to conform to the traditional expectation.  Rather, it can be productive, intense in its focus, and driven to force change. Another reason why Malcolm X has to offer his anger in such a different light is because of the racial stereotype that he knows he is under at the time of the writing of the book.  He recognizes that society at the time views the "angry Black man" in a certain light, one that tends to discredit and delegitimize his frustration.  Rather than capitulate to such a stereotype, Malcolm X offers an image of anger that causes one to be disarmed, to cause the stereotype to wither away.  His vision of anger as one where emotions and intensity can be felt, but shown in a manner that is committed to change what is into what can and what should be is something that makes him a symbol for many, a leader for more, and someone that makes the reader realize that one can be angry and hurt, but also be committed to the change that makes others' lives better.

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