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Youth See Only Slice of Malcolm X's Life

March 02, 1992

In regard to your Feb. 18 article "The X Factor," I would like to comment on the statement ". . . lingering white perception of him (Malcolm X) as a dangerous militant. . . ."

In my opinion, this "white" perception is a major factor in why many black youths are clinging to Malcolm X as a role model in today's hard-pressed society. They cling to this violent image because of the violence that erupts on a daily basis in every inner city in the country.

Violence has become so routine in this country that many people see this as the only way to resolve a conflict. So naturally, many of these same youths are denouncing Dr. Martin Luther King and his philosophy of nonviolent protest.

The majority of the black youths who regard Malcolm X as a role model concentrate their adoration on the 12-year period when he was a speaker for the Muslim movement under Elijah Muhammad.

His condemnation of the white man, who he believed was the devil for the crime of slavery 300 years ago, appeals to these youths. These young adults are taking the oppression that was experienced by blacks because of slavery and applying it to what they feel is the same form of oppression that exists today.

In my opinion, concentration on this short period of Malcolm X's life is a very limited view. These youths should choose their role models because they admire all of the facets of that person's life.

Malcolm X, who changed his major view of man many times, is fallaciously being chosen as a role model based on one of his perceptions of man that he later denounced.

TIM McNEIL, San Diego

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