Response Paper –The Power of Language
In the article "Discovering the power of language", Malcolm X tells of his embarrassment due to his lack of knowledge and inability to express himself through writing. Malcolm X was an African American who grew up on the streets among thieves, gamblers, pimps, drug dealers and other hustlers. On the streets, they often used slang and colloquial expressions, which they all understood. This was acceptable to them because the one who was able to express himself with the use of more colloquial language was regarded as a smooth talker. Malcolm was considered to be the king in that respect. He would say things like "Look daddy, let me pull your coat about a cat." This simply means let me talk to you about someone.
However, in February 1948 Malcolm X was detained at the Norfolk Prison Colony. Being the flamboyant and expressive person that he was he decided that prison could not keep him from spreading his message. He wrote letters to the people he knew and that he wanted to send his message to, like Sammy the pimp, John Hughes the gambling house owner and several dope peddlers. He wrote to them about Allah, Islam and Mr. Elijah Mohammed. No one replied to his letters, but to him that was no surprise because he knew that many of the street runners could not read or write, and writing to them about the white man being the devil would not stir much of a response. Malcolm's communication did not stop at his friends. He also sent letters to people of higher social ranks, such as the Mayor of Boston, the Governor of Massachusetts and Henry S. Truman, none of whom answered his letters.
At that point Malcolm realized that he had reached a stumbling block. He did not have the knowledge necessary to communicate with people outside of the circle of the street runners, gamblers and dope dealers. He did not possess the words that he needed to express himself to them, which disappointed him, he said; "I become...