I think it’s fair to say no one expected much from Malcolm Little, a black boy from Lansing, Michigan, who hustled in Boston and sold dope in Harlem. No one thought he would amount to much, outside of the world of crime and drugs, he was trapped in, but he proved them all wrong.

Some may view him as a symbol for black supremacy, others may admire him as a loyal Muslim or a traitor to the cause itself. As for myself, Malcolm X has found a special place in my heart.

This year Malcolm X was more than just a name to me; he became an icon, a legend, and a symbol for change. Of course, not many people share the same opinions when it comes to the social activist and his teachings. I however, feel lucky to have become enlightened by his opinions and read his autobiography, recommended to me by my mother.

I never learned much about Malcolm X in school. The name had popped up once or twice during lessons on Dr. Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Movement, but never anything memorable. I always wondered, why? What was so bad about Malcolm X? After reading his autobiography, I realize now why he was never a topic of conversation. He was painted as a tyrant… as a villain who encouraged violence and radicalized Islam in America.

Malcolm X’s original standpoint on racism in America directly linked itself to the beliefs of an Islamic leader by the name of Elijah Muhammad, who taught false teachings of Islam. Elijah Muhammad believed in the separation of the races and taught his followers to see “the white man” as a devil. Malcolm X took a strong standpoint on these beliefs but later, after taking his pilgrimage to Mecca, understood that the true Islam was not that of separated races and hate, but togetherness and love.

The Autobiography of Malcolm X is by far one of my favorite books because it goes beyond the topic of race and religion and conquers the ideology of what it means to accept others for whom they are. It’s a coming of age story, that beautifully showcases the many steps the social activist had to take to truly find himself, in a country that can’t seem to accept his race or religion.

What I found most interesting from the book was the similarities between the issues faced in the Civil Rights Movement and today. Though we have changed and largely progressed, racism and xenophobia are still fired by hate in our country, especially with our President and his views. I can’t help but think about what Malcolm X would say and think of events like Ferguson and more recently the Charlottesville riots.

We will never know for sure but what I do know is this, The Autobiography of Malcolm X is a MUST read. I recommend it to everyone, because it opens the mind to different perspectives and logics which some would never even imagined existed.

“I’m for truth, no matter who tells it. I’m for justice, no matter who it’s for or against,”-Malcolm X

Here is a little something extra I wrote in response to the riots in Charlottesville:

I am a women

I am a hispanic women

I am the daughter of an immigrant

I am an American but this is not America

This is not the America I know and love, oh no, not even close.

I take great pride in my country but have never felt more uncomfortable and more unwanted in the place that is supposed to be my home.

Our President is not America

His words and his actions are not America

Racism is not America

We come from the blood, sweat and tears, of worldly peoples from everywhere

We come from the revolutionaries and the fighters

We come from the leaders and outspoken

But this is not America

This is not the America I want to be a part of

May love conquer all and hate diminish into nothing

May Americans find our way and be brave

We are the future

We are America


With love,

Alex Palacios