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Comparative Religion

Black Religion: Malcolm X, Julius Lester, and Jan Willis by William David Hart (auth.)

By William David Hart (auth.)

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Additional resources for Black Religion: Malcolm X, Julius Lester, and Jan Willis

Example text

Descriptions of the Devil as black in color will be found in the Acts of the Martyrs, the Acts of St. Bartholomew, and in the writings of Augustine and Gregory the Great. A black face was a permanent feature of medieval representations of the Devil.

Is not this kind of transference precisely what we otherwise call idolatry? 41 Malcolm was no longer a black, “brainwashed” Christian. Even Ella, he says, could not believe how much of an atheist he had become. Malcolm had become a cocaine addict, and this addiction would play a large role in his second tour of Boston. Drugs and religion have a long and intimate relationship. Both are modalities of transcendence, ways of becoming larger than oneself, getting beyond oneself, losing and thereby finding one’s true self, a new and a higher self.

Malcolm associates his youthful Christianity with ignorance and degradation: ignorance of Christian duplicity and hypocrisy in the oppression of black people, in denying his worth as a black man, and for repressing the glorious truth of Islam. In Malcolm’s view, criminality and degradation characterized the underside of Christianity. The criminal life allowed him to see just how criminal Christianity was. To put it paradoxically, Malcolm was saved from Christianity by crime. Illicit sex, drugs, and robbery provided the conditions that made possible his redemption from life as a black brainwashed Christian.

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