Malcolm X: In Our Own Image.
The flourishing neo-"Malcolm X movement" receives a tremendous boost from St. Martin's Press' Malcolm X: In Our Own Image. Joe Wood, the book's editor, has assembled essays (including his own) from 14 "African-American thinkers," exploring different aspects of the assassinated revolutionary's life and how he is perceived by the African-American populace today.
Collectively, the essays do a very good job of capturing the wide range of feelings Malcolmologists express when discussing the man, who upon his return changed his name to El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz. Unfortunately, however, because there is no background information on the essayists--which include Amiri Baraka, Angela Davis, Patricia Williams and John Edgar Wideman--some readers may not in the full impact of why these particular writers came up with these particular views. Their "credentials" are relevant because there is some obvious political maneuvering afoot in these essays. And that aspect makes this collection important and even more stimulating to read.
Readers should each essayist's "definition of blackness" is subtly revealed in their evaluations of Malcolm. There is fiery anti-sellout rhetoric, observations about Malcolm's views on women, discussions of Malcolm's sexuality, arguments about the significance of Malcolm as an icon and analysis of his motives in many areas. The section by Patricia Hill Collins on the strengths and weaknesses of Malcolm's nationalist views is a "must read." And with each essay, you will find that reviewing these impressions of Malcolm will help you formulate your own views on those very same issues.
The most likely overall effect of the book will be to motivate most readers to think about writing his or her own essay. In Wood's essay, he hopes that in discussing Malcolm X, African-Americans will begin to really start talking to one another. And there's a good chance Malcolm X: In Our Own Image will get the ball rolling at a fast clip.
--Matthew S. Scott Malcolm X: In Our Own Image, edited by Joe Wood, St. Martin's Press, New York, 1992, 256pp, paperback, $18.95
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|Author:||Scott, Matthew S.|
|Article Type:||Book Review|
|Date:||Jan 1, 1993|
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