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Journey to a Holy Place

Reading opens his eyes to the reality of the situation of the black man in the world, a reality he has always ignored as he lived out the role society seemed to have set for him, a role that prevented him from achieving anything positive in his life. Clearly, he sees that the same effect applies to other young black men as well.

The attitudes that had been engendered in the young man were taken with him into prison and would be broken only when he read widely and learned the truth: "I hate to admit a sad, shameful fact. I had so loved being around the white man that in prison I really disliked how Negro convicts stuck together so much" (Haley 182). This is part of the problem of black identity that he sees being imposed on blacks by white society. Blacks are made ashamed of themselves, their people, their history, their culture. They act out fantasies set by the white and participate in their own virtual slavery to false ideas and a false identity. Malcolm X broke this cycle with his reading, but the formal education he received in school had not broken it--it had created it.

One result of Malcolm X's learning about this as he did was to awaken feelings of anger against white society that had been building but that had not yet fully developed. He came to embody this sense of anger for an entire generation, standing in contrast to the message of Martin Luther King and thus representing one of the two major strands of black political philosophy to this day. On the one side was King's vision of peaceful cooperation and integration into American society. On the other was the vision adopted by Malcolm X from the writings of Elijah Muhammad of the Nation of Islam in which the white man was not a brother but an antagonist to be overcome. The crimes Malcolm X discovered could be attributed to white society meant that that society had to be cast out of the world's civilized society, and integration with whites was unthinkable...

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Journey to a Holy Place. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 11:26, August 17, 2017, from
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