November 25, 2010

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)

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