Monday, August 14, 2017

Barry and Malcolm #2: Early Struggles with Identity

Malcolm Little, around 8

The second set of observations while reading, in parallel, both The Autobiography of Malcolm X and Dreams from My Father. Preliminary research for my next novel. 

Honestly, in reading the autobiographies of two of America's most defining cultural figures, you find a lot of similarities in their early lives. It's kind of stunning. However, one of the significant differences between how Barack Obama and Malcolm X grew up is that from a young age Malcolm's parents made him highly aware of his special skin tone, while little Barry's family seems to have actively sought to minimize any concern about pigmentation when he was young. Obama, in fact, had to figure things out on his own -- leastways, as he tells the story. Both situations are logical as far as they are described by these two.

Early in his autobiography, Malcolm X notes that his parents seemed to treat him in opposite ways because his complexion was so much lighter than his siblings'. He felt that his father always favored him, proof being

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Reading Barry and Malcolm in Parallel - #1

English: The Autobiography of Malcolm X in the...
The Autobiography of Malcolm X in the White House library (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
In the old days, before the ubiquity of backpacks, we carried a pile of books and notebooks around school going from class to class, maybe returning to our lockers and swapping them out once or twice during the day. Always, at the top of that book pile -- clutched close to the hip for boys, double-armed to the chest for girls --  was the novel or biography, or whatever, being read at the time for pleasure. Yup, we had text books, spiral notebooks, and three-ring binders to carry around, but we also had a special paperback sitting on top of everything meant for free reading and enjoyment. This wasn't a requirement, it was simply a logical and important element of life as a teenager in America circa 1972.

My first free reading book in junior high was Frank Herbert's Dune. My last, senior year of high school (1976), was Jack Kerouac's On the Road.

I remember so many friends back then carrying The Autobiography of Malcolm X. Didn't matter a person's background or skin tone, at least a dozen classmates and close friends over the years stuck their noses in that book when they had a little free time between classes or during lunch break or on the bus home, wherever.