White male America says that they lack positive male role models. Malcolm X should be one of them.
A story about a male born into tough circumstances, who faced adversity, fought back, learned to be tough, nailed babes, lost his way, found his way, gained more responsibility and notoriety, displayed a sense of conviction rarely seen in people, discovered that his cohorts were corrupt and didn’t stay silent about it, learned to be more inclusive and a more effective leader, then got assassinated for not backing down—
My dudes: doesn’t that sound like a great tale?
You hear the bro-podcasters talk about America experiencing a masculinity crisis because many traditional values like toughness and hard work do not get the respect they once did. Right-wing pundits say that too many men are, to use their word, pussies. Well, I have news for the Chaz McBrosephsons and Bro McChazzersons: Malcolm X was no pussy.
I first read The Autobiography of Malcolm X in college. Being a product of the American educational system, I had previously been led to believe that Malcolm was a lot more violent than he actually was. This book taught me that his visions for the world were much more peaceful and focused on equality. At the same time…Malcolm took no shit. Which is the quality that made him a threat to the establishment.
I think a lot of white dudes would enjoy this book. Malcolm told his story to Alex Haley, the writer of Roots and Alex Haley spun Malcolm’s thoughts into an amazing book. We’re talking about the kind of boyhood-to-manhood story that teaches toughness, picking oneself up after getting knocked down, staring down the enemy because you don’t take any shit, making mistakes and manning up when you do, standing up for the weak, leading a group of men who are just as committed as you are and ready for any confrontation—white male America seems to be crying out for these types of stories. They shouldn’t let Malcolm’s skin color and religion be an obstacle. Those readers in the group like war stories, superhero graphic novels, toughguy books. They seem to want to know more about what it is to become a man. And I’m not mocking that statement, either; the desire to better oneself is universal. A key reason young white guys are drawn to these tales comes from what the books and movies say about masculinity. You fellas want to learn about manhood and masculinity? Malcolm X.
And for all you fellas who say, “But…but…but…he said bad stuff about white people and was a reverse-racist…”
Malcolm rejected the Nation of Islam—that organization which creates feelings of hysteria and paranoia in the Bill O’Reilly’s of the world. (And it shouldn’t, but that’s another conversation.) Malcolm died as a man who embraced a larger view of Islam and welcomed people of all skin colors as his brothers and sisters.
Sure, followers of Alex Jones would have to get over the “but Malcolm is a Muslim” hang-up, but if they did I think they would admire Malcolm’s strength of character and personal evolution.
Malcolm X’s life story has offered countless young men guidance. It’s unfortunate that too many white men don’t read this book because some Fox News bootlickers think the book is harmful.
The American Right has been taken over by confrontation-avoiding, opportunistic chickenhawks who only looks out for themselves. The Dick Cheneys, Donald Trumps, Ted Nugents, Rush Limbaughs now push for new standards for men. The rich men who use their white privilege to exploit income inequality for their own benefit should not be idolized. Wall Street and Silicon Valley spout phrases like “Not everyone gets a trophy” as ways of trying to rationalize their own overabundance of trophies which they got thanks to this concept called white privilege. But the young men who listen to these rich white men could learn about true toughness from reading the story of a man who never had a shot at any “trophy” yet created his own legacy and etched his name into history. (How many rich white men will be talked about after they die? They’ll be forgotten.)
Happy Birthday, Malcolm X. You got taken too soon.