November 25, 2010

Only the mistakes have been mine.


"You can believe me that if I had time right now, I would not be one bit ashamed to go back into any New York City public school and start where I left off at the ninth grade, and go on through a degree. Because I don't begin to be academically equipped for so many of the interests I have. For instance, I love languages. I wish I were an accomplished linguist. I don't know anything more frustrating than to be around people talking something you can't understand. Especially when they are people who look just like you. In Africa, I heard original mother tongues, such as Hausa, and Swahili, being spoken, and there I was standing like some little boy, waiting for someone to tell me what had been said; I never will forget how ignorant I felt.
Aside from the basic African dialects, I would try to learn Chinese, because it looks as if Chinese will be the most powerful political language of the future. And already I have begun studying Arabic, which I think is going to be the most powerful spiritual language of the future." (p. 387).

"I know that societies have often killed the people who have helped to change those societies. And if I can die having brought any light, having exposed any meaningful truth that will help to destroy the racist cancer that is malignant in the body of America--then, all of the credit is due to Allah. Only the mistakes have been mine." (p. 388).

50 years was such a short time ago. It's hard to believe that just 50, 60 years ago, race relations in America were so atrocious. I often wonder how Malcolm X or Martin Luther King would react to the fact that we have a black president, if they'd believe that it could happen so soon. Or how they'd react to the fact that black males are still the least likely to succeed in America. We've come so far but we still have a long ways to go...

If you want something, you had better make some noise.

The Autobiography of Malcolm X, as told to Alex Haley

I missed blogging. I missed reading. This semester has taken me by surprise, and I've been a little overwhelmed, to say the least. Can't wait to catch up on my reading during winter break.

I first read this book in my "Writing About Black Culture" class first semester freshman year. It's become one of my favorites. I had to read sections of it again this month for my "Anthropology of American Life in Film and Literature" course.

"I learned early that crying out in protest could accomplish things. My older brothers and sister had started to school when, sometimes, they would come in and ask for a buttered biscuit or something and my mother, impatiently, would tell them no. But I would cry out and make a fuss until I got what I wanted. I remember well how my mother asked me why I couldn't be a nice boy like Wilfred; but I would think to myself that Wilfred, for being so nice and quiet, often stayed hungry. So early in life, I learned that if you want something, you had better make some noise." (p. 8)

"As the sleeping Muslims woke up, when dawn had broken, they almost instantly became aware of me, and we watched each other while they went about their business. I began to see what an important role the rug played in the overall cultural life of the Muslims. Each individual had a small prayer rug, and each man and wife, or large group, had a larger communal rug. These Muslims prayed on their rugs there in the compartment. Then they spread a tablecloth over the rug and ate, so the rug became a dining room. Removing the dishes and cloth, they sat on the rug--a living room. Then they curl up and sleep on the rug--a bedroom. In that compartment, before I was to leave it, it dawned on me for the first time why the fence had paid such a high price for Oriental rugs when I had been a burglar in Boston. It was because so much intricate care was taken to weave fine rugs in countries where rugs were so culturally versatile. Later, in Mecca, I would see yet another use of the rug. When any kind of dispute arose, someone who was respected highly and who was not involved would sit on a rug with the disputers around him, which made the rug a courtroom. In other instances it was a classroom." (p. 334)