The Autobiography of Malcolm X


Dear Virtual Diary,


It has been around two full months in Japan and I have settled in well. Monday to Friday is mostly routine, which involves going to schools and coming home. My coworkers are warm, helpful and always busy. My students are lively, interesting, brave and challenging. On the weekends I clean my small apartment, study Japanese, read some letters between Gary Snyder and Allen Ginsberg and go through Shin-ya Tokkyu as best I can. I quickly learned that achieving my goal will be much harder than I thought it would. Comprehending Japanese will take diligent dedication and consistency.


Most of my students enjoy the English classes, from what I can tell, but I am very much interested in the dead silent students. The ones with their head down as if the weight of the world was on their backs ready to crush them.


Don’t get me wrong, I am no Michelle Phiffer and none of my schools resemble a low achieving, highly dangerous high school that needs saving. I think I just relate to those kids. When I was in school I could care less about what was going on at the front of the class.


At the end of the day, I didn’t care about teachers, I didn’t care about my future…Now that I think about it I was truly living in the “NOW”. Which eventually we all must stop doing sometime. Whether we force the change or life does.


I don’t regret it though. If I was the model school student from the jump, I feel that societal guidelines or the so called “rules of life” would have a much tighter grip on my decision making.


That all being said, the quiet students in my classes really interest me. I wonder about what they are thinking?


“What are their dreams? Will they ever leave Kurahashi chō  (The island on where I currently live)?” I sometimes call them by their name to let them know I know of their existence. Having over 500 students with foreign names makes it a bit difficult to remember them all. But I want to get to know the quiet ones that is for sure.


I am have almost completed The Autobiography of Malcolm X. Judging from my Facebook timeline it seems that American cops shooting black people is still a hot topic à disappointment stirs à Walmart has a sale à Everyone goes to Walmart and forgets what they were disappointed about.

Society rinses and repeat.

I learned a lot about El-HaJJ Malik El- Shabazz (Malcolm X). The book was great. One of the best Autobiographies I have read. Alex Haley did an excellent job and I will finally check out his movie Roots.
Shabazz, after his pilgrimage to Mecca, returned a changed man. Much of “the white man is the devil” rhetoric disappeared from his teachings. His split from the Nation of Islam, as well as being constantly watched by the government really broke Malcolm X down mentally. And from what Haley describes, it seems as though Malcolm was able to have an infinite break from life.

Last interesting point about reading Malcolm X. I previously remember reading it in Toronto and because of the strong media maelstrom racism in America, Canada, due to its proximity to America is often caught up in the winds of controversy.

I remember a co-worker once asked me why I was reading it. At that time, the question seemed pretty odd to me. Why wouldn’t anyone want to read The Autobiography of Malcolm X it not only captures the life of one of the prolific civil rights leaders, but also describes the numerous important events of that occurred during the civil rights movement in the 1960’s. Now this could all be me, and I am full of shit, so this could be full of shit. But I did feel like there was a “People who read that book hate white people” under tone in her voice. The lady was indeed white, but all that aside I will get to my main point then close this off.

In Japan, it has taken me about a month to get through the book. No one here knew who the fuck Malcolm X was and would ask what the book was about. Ignorance is sometimes a good thing; with it one has the ability to ingest information that might have been distasteful if they originally learned about it through the means of a normative society.

In my anecdote I was just a giant foreigner reading. Which is not to say I am not in Canada, BUT prior experiences have proven, to me at least, that sometimes I can’t just be a guy reading a book.

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