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Making Malcolm: The Myth and Meaning of Malcolm X.

Many scholars predicted that following the surge of fascination with Malcolm X, which reached its peak with Spike Lee's film, there would be a brief lull and then another period of examination of the slain leader's life. This second wave is upon, us and much of it is an improvement.

Among the best of this recent crop is Making Malcolm: The Myth and Meaning of malcolm X by Michael Eric Dyson. The University of North Carolina professor's essays have fans, not only because he brings a fresh edge to discussions, but because of his mix of styles and language. Now he positions Malcolm's legacy in several contexts, particularly in relationship to hip-hop culture and rap music.

After briefly delineating Malcolm's early years, Dyson contrasts Malcolm and Martin Luther King Jr.'s politics. "Where King advocated redemptive suffering for blacks through their own bloodshed, Malcolm promulgated |reciprocal bleeding' for blacks and whites. As King preached the virtues of Christian love, Malcolm articulated black anger with unmitigated passion."

Malcolm's example, Dyson concludes, can be used in several ways, but when he asked us to think for ourselves, to ask the hard questions and to have a "shameless love of black folk," he offered the best advice. Like Malcolm, we should not be afraid to admit our wrongs and to reinvent ourselves, when and wherever necessary.

Making Malcolm examines what it is about the seminal black leader's life and words that still speaks to us so powerfully 30 years after his assassination.
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Author:Boyd, Herb
Publication:Black Enterprise
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Nov 1, 1994
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