By: Aryanne Ferguson
Amazon calls Malcolm X’s autobiography titled “The Autobiography of Malcolm X” a classic modern autobiography. This book is on every US reading list for high-school students. I’ve read it twice – once in high school (when I was trying to complete a list of 50 classics in order to be “well-read”) – and once in college when I took a class called I, Me, Mine: The American Autobiography. This was a class where you started out reading Benjamin Franklin’s dry-as-bones autobiography; by the time you made it to Malcolm X you wept with joy because his book is actually entertaining.
I enjoyed reading the autobiography both times, but I liked the latter parts of Malcolm X’s life much less than the parts before he gets religion and proceeds to tell us about it. I think it’s easy to get preachy in memoir or autobiography, which turns off me as a reader. But the good far outweighs the preachiness here. This autobiography taught me the importance of having a side hustle (or a Plan B). Besides that, now I get all the jokes about zoot suits and conks. I’m cool now, Reader.
The book even speaks to my younger cousins in their rebellious teen stages. They were cute happy kids, but now they just feel so much that they’re always crying in the bathroom (high school girls), or out defying the man (high school boys). According to them, they don’t have time for required reading, but they make an exception for Malcolm X and are ready and willing to discuss the book. There’s something to be said for a book that fosters community and collaboration, and I’m glad that when Malcolm X and Alex Haley put their heads together, they produced this book.