Prison Studies Considered Essay

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Prison Studies Considered

In "Prison Studies" Malcolm X briefly details how, during his incarceration, he embarked on a process of self-education that forever changed him and the course of his life. Malcolm writes of his determination to learn to read and write, born out of his envy and emulation of Bimbi, a fellow prisoner. His innate curiosity, sense of pride, and ambition to learn and be someone of substance motivated him to study relentlessly. As he learned more about the world he developed a great thirst for knowledge that left him with a lifelong desire that only his continued studies could satisfy. He believed that prison offered him the best possible situation in which to educate himself.

This idea of Malcolm's, that prison
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I believe that prisons do now have classes available that would have been a great help to Malcolm X. Another factor that must be considered in understanding Malcolm is his self-declared policy of Black independence and pride. His pride would have made his reliance on the institutions of white America (such as institutions of higher learning) very problematic. Since Malcolm did not have a formal education or credentials that would gain him access to college, or the money to buy a college education, it was only appropriate that he should look down on such elitist and exclusive "white" institutions. It was as if to say: If I am not welcome there, then I don't want to be there. Thank you very much, but I will provide my own education! This attitude imbues a sense of empowerment instead of a feeling of victimization. It must be noted that Malcolm was speaking to black America at a time when their access to college was more limited than it is today. In particular, he was probably speaking to many black men who were either in prison or had little opportunity for a formal education. It must have been a great inspiration to many black Americans to hear Malcolm X say that education and self-improvement was possible, in spite of discrimination and prejudice.

The essence of Malcolm's essay is the importance of education (however it is achieved) and a curiosity about…