devoted to a cause or ideal or purpose
My father, the Reverend Earl Little, was a Baptist minister, a
dedicated organizer for Marcus Aurelius Garvey’s U.N.I.A.
spur on or encourage especially by cheers and shouts
With the help of such disciples as my father, Garvey, from his headquarters in New York City’s Harlem, was raising the banner of black-race purity and
exhorting the Negro masses to return to their ancestral African homeland—a cause which had made Garvey the most controversial black man on earth.
spread negative information about
Soon, nearly everywhere my father went, Black Legionnaires were
reviling him as an “uppity nigger” for wanting to own a store, for living outside the Lansing Negro district, for spreading unrest and dissension among “the good niggers.”
annoy continually or chronically
I told them how East Lansing
harassed us so much that we had to move again, this time two miles out of town, into the country.
characteristic of an enemy or one eager to fight
My father was also
belligerent toward all of the children, except me.
grievously affected especially by disease
I actually believe that as anti-white as my father was, he was subconsciously so
afflicted with the white man’s brainwashing of Negroes that he inclined to favor the light ones, and I was his lightest child.
an offspring of a black and a white parent
It came directly from the slavery tradition that the “
mulatto,” because he was visibly nearer to white, was therefore “better.”
contented to a fault with oneself or one's actions
By that I mean that I don’t know a town with a higher percentage of
complacent and misguided so-called “middle-class” Negroes—the typical status-symbol-oriented, integration-seeking type of Negroes.
disposed to warfare or hard-line policies
I knew that the collections my father got for his preaching were mainly what fed and clothed us, and he also did other odd jobs, but still the image of him that made me proudest was his crusading and
militant campaigning with the words of Marcus Garvey.
the act of delivering from sin or saving from evil
“No one knows when the hour of Africa’s
redemption cometh. It is in the wind. It is coming. One day, like a storm, it will be here.”
used of unskilled work, especially domestic work
Mr. Lyons had been a famous football star at Mason High School, was highly thought of in Mason, and consequently he now worked around that town in
uneducated in general; lacking knowledge or sophistication
She would speak sharply to the man at the grocery store for padding the bill, telling him that she wasn’t
ignorant, and he didn’t like that.
process of changing to an inferior state
Some kind of psychological
deterioration hit our family circle and began to eat away our pride.
poor enough to need help from others
Perhaps it was the constant tangible evidence that we were
a person who professes beliefs that he or she does not hold
She was the one who, years later, would tell me something that I remembered a long time: “Malcolm, there’s one thing I like about you. You’re no good, but you don’t try to hide it. You are not a
subject to laughter or mockery
Whites have always hidden or justified all of the guilts they could by
ridiculing or blaming Negroes.
break into parts or components or lose cohesion or unity
Right then was when our home, our unity, began to
The woman who had brought me into the world, and nursed me, and advised me, and
chastised me, and loved me, didn’t know me.
someone new to a field or activity
They matched me with a white boy, a
novice like myself, named Bill Peterson.
an instance causing you to lose prestige or self-respect
But the worst of my
humiliations was my younger brother Reginald’s attitude: he simply never mentioned the fight.
the way a person behaves toward other people
deportment record, I wasn’t really shocked when the decision came that I had been expelled.
showing arrogance by patronizing those considered inferior
This is the sort of kindly
condescension which I try to clarify today, to these integration-hungry Negroes, about their “liberal” white friends, these so-called “good white people”—most of them anyway.
an unshakable belief in something without need for proof
He may stand with you through thin, but not thick; when the chips are down, you’ll find that as fixed in him as his bone structure is his sometimes subconscious
conviction that he’s better than anybody black.
having or showing knowledge and skill and aptitude
Anyway, from my experience as a little boy at the Lansing school, I had become fairly
adept at avoiding the white-girl issue—at least for a couple of years yet.
a situation from which extrication is difficult
It was easier than my mother’s
plight, with eight of us always underfoot or running around.
make believe with the intent to deceive
I couldn’t have
feigned indifference if I had tried to.
the social class between the lower and upper classes
I’ve often thought that if Mr. Ostrowski had encouraged me to become a lawyer, I would today probably be among some city’s professional black
bourgeoisie, sipping cocktails and palming myself off as a community spokesman for and leader of the suffering black masses, while my primary concern would be to grab a few more crumbs from the groaning board of the two-faced whites with whom they’re begging to “integrate.”
a poor densely populated city district
This was the snooty-black neighborhood; they called themselves the “Four Hundred,” and looked down their noses at the Negroes of the black
ghetto, or so-called “town” section where Mary, my other half-sister, lived.
move from one country or region to another and settle there
Then the native-born New Englanders among them looked down upon recently
migrated Southern home-owners who lived next door, like Ella.
an inoffensive expression substituted for an offensive one
“I’m with an old family” was the
euphemism used to dignify the professions of white folks’ cooks and maids who talked so affectedly among their own kind in Roxbury that you couldn’t even understand them.
the act of changing in form or shape or appearance
I’d seen some pretty conks, but when it’s the first time, on your own head, the
transformation, after the lifetime of kinks, is staggering.
an expert able to appreciate a field
They never had seen the feather-lightness that she gave to Undying, a completely fresh style—and they were
connoisseurs of styles.
strike, usually with the fist
If a showtime crowd liked your performance, when you came off you were mobbed, mauled, grasped, and
pummeled like the team that’s just taken the series.
known widely and usually unfavorably
The next time I saw her, she was a wreck of a woman,
notorious around black Roxbury, in and out of jail.
resist or confront with resistance
Defying her grandmother, she had started going out late and drinking liquor.