It's my first Conk soap and I wasn't disappointed.
Malcolm X My First Conk - Essay - 462 Words - StudyMode
After reading Malcolm X's "My First Conk" from the Patterns book, respond to the following question: This Process explanation has an explicitly stated thesis that makes its purpose clear. What is this thesis?"
Repost: My First Conk | The Loc Diaries
is a short essay, excerpted from Malcolm X's larger work The Autobiography of Malcolm X. Unlike many other autobiographical excerpts, "My First Conk" is a wonderful stand-alone piece. I remember the passage stood out to me when I read his autobiography in high school, and I have often had cause to trot it out in discussion since.
Although I'm as white as they come, I have curly hair. Furthermore, I'm a pro-curly-hair activist of sorts. There is definitely a stigma attached to curly hair. On white girls at least, it's "unprofessional" and "untidy." Our hair is supposed to hang and shine like glass, to be put into place and stay there, under our control. Well frankly, not all hair is going to do that.
The situation is a lot more severe for black people, both men and women. Black women bear the brunt of this stigma these days, as long as black men are happy with keeping their hair cropped short and bland. But back in Malcolm X's day, black men weren't supposed to have curly hair, either.
Enter the conk. This hairstyle was popular in the middle of the last century, particularly among black men who were in the public's eye, like musicians and actors. Although the conk has fallen almost completely out of favor, older black men like James Brown and Al Sharpton still sport them.
To "conk" your hair simply meant to straighten it, so that you could then style it however you liked. Once your hair looked like "white hair," you were set. Unfortunately, getting there in the 1940s was not a happy process. Chemical straigtening and relaxers are pretty harsh today, but back then, they were downright lethal.
Malcolm X describes how his friend Shorty offered to help him out with his first conk. Shorty gave him a shopping list (lye, two eggs, two medium-sized potatoes) and helped him mix the homemade straightener. And then he applied it.
"I gritted my teeth and tried to pull the sides of the kitchen table together. The comb felt as if it was raking my skin off."
He then describes his joy upon looking in the mirror, after it was all done, and seeing a white man's hair. The straightener not only straightened out his kinky hair, it also bleached it red. Double bonus!
"This was my first really big step towards self-degradation: when I endured all of that pain, literally burning my flesh to have it look like a white man's hair."
After describing the grueling process of getting his first conk, Malcolm X goes on to condemn the practice. But unlike so many of Malcolm X's condemnations, this one comes from a position of personal shame. He openly confesses to having conked his hair for many years before he finally gave it up. This heartfelt self-effacing tone sets "My First Conk" apart from a lot of Malcolm X's writing. And the political points he makes are, sadly, as valid today as they were in the 1960s when "My First Conk" was written.