Last week we read about and watched Malcolm X get his first conk. A conk is a hairstyle worn by African Americans that was popular in the mid 1900’s. The straightening of black hair is supposed to make it look more like white hair. This is just one example of how blacks attempted to assimilate into white culture. Whites were seen as superior, and they believed that if they looked more white, they would be accepted. Malcolm despised the hill people because they tried to make themselves more white, but in reality he was doing the same thing. Blacks changed their hairstyle, the way they dressed, and even the way they talked to become someone they were not. Conforming into this culture didn’t end discrimination or give them more rights. Standing up for themselves and speaking out is what helped them to gain more rights. This proves that making themselves more like their enemy did not get them anywhere. Trying to become someone others want you to be will eventually end in failure. Another example of this is with Zora Bikangaga. The students at his college believed he was Ugandan, when in reality he was an African American. He spoke in an accent and covered up his past because he thought others liked him for his culture. He couldn’t keep it up forever though, and had to come clean. His friends were shocked, and the girl he liked felt betrayed. Covering up his true self led to failure in the end. People should be who they really are and not change themselves to feel more accepted.
This week we watched the interviews or two very different men, fighting for the same cause. Those men are Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. Each one carries himself in a certain way and has his own approach on dealing with prejudice. Martin Luther believes in love and non-violent resistance. Showing love to your enemy can help both sides to cooperate and listen to each other. This method was used by Gandhi, and the Indians eventually gained independence. MLK believes that physically fighting back will only lead to more hate, while love will drive out hate. “Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend” (Martin Luther King). In contrast, Malcolm X belives the exact opposite and encourages blacks to fight back if violence is shown toward them. Many are quick to criticize Malcolm X for this; however, it is important to look at why someone acts or believes the way they do before judging them. His childhood shaped the way that he thinks and explains why he is so bitter towards whites. They tore his family apart and sent his mother to a mental hospital . His father was killed by whites, as well as many other members of his family. His philosophy of fighting violence with more violence can be seen as a practical solution to some. It is in human nature to hate those who hate you. During World War II, showing appeasement to Germany only made everything worse, and we eventually had to fight back to win the war. There are many examples in history supporting the two different beliefs of MLK and Malcolm X. This article provides more information on the difference of these two men. Which side do you support and why?