This work, ghost written by Alex Haley, author of Roots: The Saga of An American Family was considered too radical for high school classrooms for years. It is about transformation & self-education. Malcolm X taught himself in prison, getting an education entirely on his own and became a follower of Elijah Muhammad. Later, his voyage to Mecca & his experiences with 'white' Muslims lead him to revise his racist views.
In 1993, parents of Duval County, Florida students challenged his book, calling it disruptive of racial harmony. In Jacksonville Florida in 1994, access to the book was restricted and only teens with parental permission slips could check the book out.
Aristotle said: "It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it."
For example, in reading the writings of Thomas Jefferson, I saw some of Jefferson's views of blacks- people he enslaved. He even said that black people don't love each other the way whites do- I guess to say that separating slave families didn't matter- but Jefferson was trying to ease his conscience with pseudoscience. Personally, I don't believe that this hypocrisy cancels everything he ever did- or that it takes away from the intellectual value of his writings.
So, later, when I read The Autobiography of Malcolm X, I was ready for it. I had already learned to balance agreement with disagreement. You don't have to be Black Nationalist Muslim to love the words of a Muslim writer or to admire this man's journey. You don't have to be an extremist to note the gifts of an extremist. It's a fascinating book, particularly the part where he's in prison- & I re-read it quite often.
Such books are the best books to read- they force us to mentally defend our beliefs. Then, we know that we hold them for a reason. And we understand people who oppose us better.
If you only read the things that confirm your beliefs, then what's the point of reading?
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