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Little X: Growing Up In The Nation Of Islam Paperback – January 3, 2005
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Her grandparents joined the Nation of Islam in 1952, which makes Sonsyrea Tate a third-generation member of the Nation. In this fascinating glimpse at life behind the scenes in an NOI family, Tate tells of going to a Muslim school, of the changes in the Nation after the death of its leader, Elijah Muhammad, and of the tensions within her family after her mother converted to Orthodox Islam. For all that it is a profoundly interesting account of growing up in a different culture, in the end Tate's is a quintessentially American story of a child coming of age and finding her own path. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Freelance journalist Tate has fashioned a female coming-of-age autobiography that unveils life in the Black Muslim sect of the 1960s and '70s. She begins with a brief survey of her grandparents' involvement with Elijah Muhammad's Nation of Islam. Heeding this self-proclaimed prophet's call to a life of dedicated discipline, her elders, and later her mother, embark on a religious journey through black society in Washington, D.C. At first, the demand for dignity, respect for education and pride in black achievements spur these converts from traditional black churches to new awareness and contentment. As the author details her adolescence, moving from the rigors of the Black Muslim school to the laissez-faire world of public education, we see a young woman standing with one foot in a misunderstood, restrictive parochial world, and one foot about to set down in the alluringly wide-open, but dangerous, secular world. Tate is at her best in describing the two strongest influences in her life, her mother and grandmother: Both strong women engaged in spiritual quests, they lovingly guide, chide and instruct Tate through the straits of youth. A temperate and sympathetic treatment of an African American family's religious evolution, this is not a sensational expose of the Nation of Islam. While Tate's journalistic style sometimes goes flat, her insights and reminiscences, drawn against a backdrop of dramatic public events, hold the reader's interest. $40,000 ad/promo; author tour.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
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She writes in the Introduction to this 1997 book, "my life as an African American Muslim girl was bittersweet. After leaving the Nation, my family journeyed through several interpretations of Orthodox Islam. But in the midst of praying five times a day, something went wrong and I watched my family fall apart. I wasn't sure whether we fell because of our Islam of despite it. I set out to examine my life to find some answers. I hoped that by writing it all down, spelling it all out, it would begin to make sense."
Here are some quotations from the book:
"While (children in public schools) learned that slain civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., had been a hero, we were taught that he had been a coward." (Pg. 29-30)
"Most of the people in the Nation had been vulnerable emotionally and spiritually, and in other ways downtrodden, when they joined the Nation. So it was easy enough to mold them. And those of us born into the Nation simply went along with the program. For the most part." (Pg. 48)
"(Elijah Muhammad) said the fight for women's liberation what a white woman's battle; that the black woman needed to stay home and take care of her husband and children. The black man, he said, had enough to fight out in the world without having to fight with his woman over women's rights." (Pg. 84-85)
"We all heard of brothers getting 'chastised' and winding up mysteriously dead. But none of us made the connection that the deaths and chastisements might have been related." (Pg. 101)
"Orthodox Muslims ... didn't consider what Elijah Muhammad taught true Islam because Elijah Muhammad based his teachings on a mix of the Bible, the Quran, and that nationalist philosophy preached by the late Marcus Garvey. In the Temple we were taught to disregard Orthodox Muslims because they refused to accept the fact that we were the real chosen people referred to in the Bible and the Quran." (Pg. 111)
Middle East Quarterly: Islam in the United States December, 1998
There are big differences between the various kinds of Islam in this country and we need to know them all. It is human to interpret a religion according to one's own community needs, and that is what the Nation was for in Tate's early days. It is well-written. Why copy edit out the dialogue of family truths and pains and growth. Where is Tate today? Everyone in my class enjoyed reading *Little X* - and when I went to get a copy for a gift, I couldn't believe they stopped printing them.