Malcolm X on his Adventist upbringing

(system) #1

By Alexander Carpenter

I was looking for Busta Rhymes's or Flipmode's "sanitarium" lyric (anyone know the song?) and found this from The Autobiography of Malcolm X as Told to Alex Haley (1964). . . .Time went by, and some folks tried to help. The Seventh Day Adventists were an encouragement to Malcolm's mother.

"Meanwhile, the state Welfare people kept after my mother. By now, she didn't make it any secret that she hated them, and didn't want them in her house. But they exerted their right to come, and I have many, many times reflected upon how, talking to us children, they began to plant the seeds of division in our minds. They would ask such things as who was smarter than the other. And they would ask me why I was 'so different.'" [Malcolm was lighter than his brothers and sisters, but also at the time, getting into more trouble.]

"I think they felt that getting children into foster homes was a legitimate part of their function, and the result would be less troublesome, however they went about it." "And when my mother fought them, they went after her -- first, through me. I was the first target. I stole; that implied I wasn't being taken care of by my mother." [p 21]

The state Welfare people attacked and ridiculed Malcolm's mother on account of her dietary practices, eschewing "gifts" of pork and other food objectionable to Seventh Day Adventists.

"They were as vicious as vultures. They had no feelings, understanding, compassion, or respect for my mother. They told us, 'She's crazy for refusing food.' Right then was when our home, our unity, began to disintegrate. We were having a hard time, and I wasn't helping. But we could have made it, we could have stayed together. As bad as I was, as much trouble and worry as I caused my mother, I loved her."

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at