FROM MICHAEL DE FREITAS TO MICHAEL XProduct no.: RD003
Michael Abdul Malik
Michael X is the symbol of Black Power in Great Britain. The future race relations of the country depend very much on his thoughts and actions.
What sort of man is this ex-hustler whose personal magnetism has made him a national figure and won him a range of friends extending from petty criminals to Saudi Arabian princes, taking in white poets and writers and the heavyweight boxing champion of the world, Mohammed Ali, in passing?
The answer is here. Michael Abdul Malik, as he now is, looks back on the person he used to be and explains the person he has become in the eyes of the world.
To start with, when he was Michael de Freitas, he went to sea. It was on a Norwegian vessel that he became an Able Seaman because the colour of his skin forbade it on a British one, but in those days he shrugged off such problems. ‘That’s how it is in England,’ said other seamen, and like them he accepted it. Then, when marriage brought him ashore, he found that he also had to accept life in a ghetto. The only home he could find was in ‘the Grove’ – the Notting Hill area.
If you are black and live in a ghetto and have energy and intelligence, the chances are that you will break the law: it’s the quickest way to a living, and the law doesn’t seem to apply to you, anyway. Michael de Freitas broke it often and he did so with relish – a fact reflected in the lively, ironic and enjoyable way this story is told.
But in spite of this relish, Michael discovered that he could live that way only so long as he wasn’t thinking or feeling too deeply. A series of encounters – with the property racketeer Rachman, with a Canadian girl and finally with Malcolm X – stirred his mind and heart and decided him to say ‘No!’ to what was happening to himself and his people. He would not continue as a victim, however jaunty, of white society. He would oppose it.
He was dubbed Michael X by accident, but it marked a real change which was to become even more definite when he converted to Islam and took his present name. With that he confirmed himself in his self-imposed mission of urging black men to stand on their dignity, to expect nothing from white men of any kind, and to work towards claiming their rights.
In this book he explains frankly and in detail how it all happened, and he pulls no punches about his present attitude. It is both a vivid personal story and a clear warning of what threatens between black and white. In America people are now asking in anguish ‘What has gone wrong?’ This question could soon be asked in this country, too, if evidence such as that provided by Michael Abdul Malik continues to be disregarded. (Jacket photographs by Horace Ové)
Inscribed and signed by the author in 1970.
[Published by Andre Deutch in 1968; First edition. Hardcover with dust jacket. Dust jacket condition is poor (torn, worn and faded. See images). The text is generally good with some spotting and yellowing to page edges.]