Why does Betty have an argument with Malcolm?
In Chapter 16, Malcolm tells us that the only domestic argument he ever had with his wife, Betty, concerned money. Until then, questions about money never arose between the couple.
As time continued, rumors abounded that Malcolm was making plenty of money in his position as the national spokesman for the Nation of Islam. Since the rumors were not true, Malcolm refused to defend himself. He believed in Elijah Muhammad's prophecy that others would envy him because of his position, and he took the smears in stride. However, the situation at home was different.
Betty felt that Malcolm needed to put aside some money for his family if anything happened to him. However, Malcolm felt differently; he did not want to become another one of the individuals who benefited financially from his connections to a social justice organization. Malcolm firmly believed that leaders of such organizations needed to set a good example. He maintained that plenty of other organizations had already been destroyed by their leaders' lack of moral integrity.
From Malcolm's point of view, these leaders had often been goaded into agitating for their own personal aggrandizement by their own wives. He tells us that this one argument almost broke up his marriage. However, Malcolm and Betty were soon able to come to an understanding after Malcolm reassured Betty that the Nation of Islam would step up for her and the children should anything happen to him.