Malcolm X was born Christian, but he converted to Muslim (X & Haley, 1973). He met Muhammad Ali, who influenced him in his career. He was a leader, who advocated for African-Americans rights. He urged them to come up with racial unity during the Civil Rights Movement. Since the ages of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade, the blacks had been in the US. They were the weaker race; they were never equal with the whites. Since the Jim Crow laws were enacted, separate, but equal, they were the laws for racial segregation, which saw segregated schools, public places, restrooms, and restaurants for the color people and the whites. Malcolm X and Mary Crow Dog were very different, yet their life and historical encounters brought them to engage in a course that was so similar, theirs was a fight for freedom.
Malcolm felt that blacks were treated unfairly, unjustly, harshly, and brutally. Therefore, his approach was a radical one. He urged the blacks to return the harsh and violent treatment to the white oppressors (X & Haley, 1973). However, in 1954, these laws were overturned by the Supreme Court, but that was not to give the blacks the freedom they had always yearned for. He had an intense hatred toward whites, which drove him to fight for better opportunities and equality for blacks. There were the laws that prohibited interracial marriages that first came into effect in 1691. His aim was to bring pride and vigilance against oppression. These were the two principles that drove him to his fight. Malcolm was brought up in a foster home and later in a detention home, which he was sent to due to the rebellious behavior after his father was killed, when he was six years of age, and his mother was sent to a mental hospital. The Ku Klux Klan murdered Malcolm’s father. At the age of 20, Malcolm went to prison. While in prison, he self-educated himself on the world history, politics, and slavery.
After his release in 1952, he went up the ranks to become the National Minister of Islam leader, next in command to Elijah Muhammad, the leader of the Nation of Islam. He uses the platform to fight to equality; he was fed up with the structural racism that awarded the whites with more credit than it did with blacks. As a major spokesperson for the Nation of Islam, this had adopted a “Black Power” philosophy; he had grown frustrated with the non-violent ideology that was being taught by other activists, such as Martin Luther king Jr. He worried about the future of the black’s movement. He was a good orator and that gave him an edge; he was able to woo uncontended blacks and led them to the Islamic religion. Before him, other black activists had come up and joined in the fight for equality for the black people. Booker T. Washington and W. E. B. Dubois were among the early blacks to join the fight to end slave trade and racial segregation (Nelson, 2001). Dubois was a radical just like Malcolm, while Booker was a conservative like Luther. They were among the early founders of NAACP.
Mary craw dog, on the other hand, did not have a rather different life from that of Malcolm. She was born in 1954, in South Dakota. Just like Malcolm, Mary’s father, left her mother after she was born, and her stepfather drank, she would argue with her mother about this. From her book, Lakota Woman, she says she was born a rebel (Brave & Erdoes, 1990). At the age of 10, she had leant how to drink from her stepfather. She then led a vanguard life as a way of punishing her mother. She was later forced to go to the boarding school, where she first experienced racism, and her social encounters with the whites began. After some years, Mary ran away from home and led a life of drinking and stealing. She was not different from Malcolm, who had gone to prison for robbery.
In 1971, while attending a service, she heard a lecture from Leonard Crow Dog. He told the congregation that for many generations in the past the Indians had tried to talk to the white man, but the white man could not hear; he had neither the eyes to see nor a heart to feel their pain. He asked them to speak with their body language and that he would die for the course. He was ready to die in the struggle. These words would change Mary’s life forever; she had joined the American Indian Movement and had quit drinking (Brave & Erdoes, 1990). Mary had a child at the Wounded Knee event, which showed that she was proud of her roots and took religion seriously. The AIM was different from other black movements; they were fighting against the white system, not the whites. The Indians did not see the difference between the blacks and the whites, because the blacks wanted what the white people had. They wanted to be in, while the Indians wanted to be out (Monroe & Reyer, 1994).
Mary and Malcolm were not any different in their fights for equality; it was a religious affair for both of them. Malcolm fought from an Islamic front, while Mary fought from an Indian front. In both their encounters culture plays a major role, it influences their decisions and actions. Malcolm did not want to be associated with the slavery; he dropped his last name Litte and adopted X to show that he was discontented with the black slavery. Mary, on the other hand, took culture very seriously. There existed a cultural conflict during the struggle, because the colonialists, who were white, thought they were superior and that they had the power to manage the inhabitants, who were Indians. The whites felt they were better in comparison to blacks, and that is where Malcolm called for radical methods.
The class difference was another bone of contention, the whites had put up segregated areas only for the whites and others only for the blacks and they would not mix. Schools were set aside for the blacks and whites as well. The color people were referred to as monkeys. In her book, Lakota Woman, Mary gives an incidence, where she wanted to buy fruits from a grocery store, and she was ridiculed and called a monkey by a white gal. She later marries the AIM’s spiritual leader, Leonard Crow.
Although both activists are deceased, their ideologies still live on and through their fight they made a landmark and helped to shape the lives of the people; both Indians and blacks. They are remembered for their contributions in fighting for the civil rights and equality. Before they began their activism, they had a rough encounter with gender discrimination. Malcolm in his early days hated the whites so much that he would look for white women to have sex with him, while Mary lived in the area, where women were taken advantage of through rape.
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The Origin of Hip Hop
Hip-hop originated in the late 60s and early 70s and is still evolving even today. The genre that began over 50 years ago has become movement and culture. Hip-hop music originated in New York among the blacks and Latino ghetto dwellers. Street culture had been in existence for centuries, in almost every country. However, in the US, the country of ghettos had isolated these groups from the rest of the society. The culture found itself in the streets of white quarters and then went to the masses, businesses, discos, and cinemas. In 1967, in New York Bronx came a Jamaican, Kool Herc. He takes credit for the evolution of the hip-hop culture among other people. The music evolved around the lives of youth (Chang, 2005).
The hip hop music went through major transformation, as it developed as a local genre played in the underground streets. It was played as an alternative to the mainstream music. Its message attacked urban poverty, racism, and the manner, in which in Black inner city neighborhoods had been abandoned. Although hip hop music was not entirely a Black movement, the culture gave many young Blacks a platform to communicate and express their frustrations and hopes that were only experienced by the Black community (Chang, 2005). As hip hop grew and spread from the streets of New York, other cities across the US and beyond, it took on the identity of the performing artists and the communities they came from.
The whites took the messages of the hip hop as a clear manifestation of the way of life of the black community. The gangster led the certain lifestyle in the streets. From the manifestations, the whites are led to hold on to the historical beliefs that the blacks are biologically and culturally inferior, and that they are responsible for their own inequalities. These beliefs by the whites give rise to a new racism or symbolic racism, the belief that the blacks do not conform to the American values, especially to the work ethics (Chang, 2005).