English 2100 Fall 2023:  What Goes Unsaid?

“Learning to Read” excerpt

In the excerpt “Learning to Read” from “The Autobiography of Malcolm X “, I came to discover Malcolm X’s journey of reading and understanding. His overall curiosity and willingness to learn starting with a fundamental tool such as a dictionary and studying it in order for him to become knowledgeable of words and their different meanings is truly what made a strong impression on me. Malcolm didn’t let his circumstances nor surroundings in prison define him. Instead, he took advantage of it spending his sole time studying the dictionary and improving his writing skills by copying everything he was seeing down. Ultimately, that guided him to expand his knowledge on topics that he once was incapable of comprehending . Malcolm X is known to be a highly intelligent individual. I always figured he had some sort of high education. However, it surprised me how he didn’t even make it past middle school. I am truly fascinated that Malcolm didn’t receive a full proper school education. All that he knows was self-taught, referring to “a homemade education”. What I can make of the authors description of “a homemade education” is that it’s one that you create for yourself. One that caters to you as an individual and your needs based on what we know, don’t know, and want to know. It’s a kind of education that you solely curate and teach yourself on your own terms. Based on self – determination, passion, and drive. The element I can identify within this narrative is that when I put my mind toward a certain goal or objective I don’t give up no matter how hard it gets or if it may seem impossible. I feel like Malcolm had the same mentality. He was eager to learn how to become literate and gain knowledge even if it was going to be long journey. He ended up achieving that and so much more as time passed.

Hey I’m Isabel, you can call me Izzy or Isabel doesn’t matter. I’m a Marketing Major, I want to mainly focus on the digital aspect of it because I want to get into the social media area of marketing. I’m from The Bronx, specifically Soundview. I was born and raised here and I’ve lived in The Bronx my whole life. I love Manhattan, even though it can be extremely overcrowded and dirty, it’s just something about the city that makes me really love it. The Tall buildings, the parks, restaurants, and the stores are my big reasons. Eventually I will move out of here, maybe after I get my degree. Wherever life takes me. I love taking pictures, either of myself or of views that I consider beautiful in my eyes; Instagram Plug: @whoisisabelmarie & Picture Page @lifeinisabelseyes. I love YouTube, my favorite youtubers are Kai Cenat, Coryxkenshin, Agent 00, Fanum, Berleezy, Dashie and probably more I can’t think of right now. Overall, I’m excited for the first semester and I can’t wait to meet more people.

I picked this photo because I’m the oldest daughter in my family and I love my sisters, they pushed me to become more and work hard. This was my graduation cap because of my motivation also known as my sisters.

Learning To Read:

This excerpt made me feel inspired, it opens my mind to the dedication Malcolm X put into secure knowledge even if he wasn’t in the best environment. Malcolm X had a lot of struggles learning how to educate himself, learning new words and meanings. But he persevered through it all and pushed himself to learn and open his mind. Malcolm described it as being “truly free” even while still being in prison, reading and writing because a source of freedom for his mind. The fact that he read at 10 o clock at night, even if the lights were off, he still found a way to continue to read until he was satisfied with his reading for the day. He opened his mind to the covering of Black presence in history, showing how whitewashed it truly was. He stated that he didn’t need a status symbol and that his homemade education was very impactful on his life and how he viewed the world with the knowledge he had learned in prison.

Introductory post

Hello, my name is Lisbeth Tenesaca. You can just call me Lisbeth, and my pronouns are she/her. I grew up in Queens, and some of my interests are exploring the city, fashion, and trying new things. When it comes to the city I enjoy trying different cafes and restaurants. As well as museums, I love to shop and search for hidden gems. Two sports I mainly enjoy playing are volleyball and badminton. A little bit about myself: I am a middle child, my favorite color is purple, I have a Shih Tzu dog (means everything to me), and I am a huge fan of horror movies. I am an introvert when it comes to meeting new people. But the more they get to know me, I am very easygoing and friendly. I am a hard worker, like taking my studies very seriously, and like to see the positive in things. My intended major is International Business and I’m excited to see how it goes! My career goal is to have my own business related to fashion. I would say my parents are my motivation to continue my studies and follow my passion. Another goal I wish to accomplish is to travel around the world, learn about different cultures, and experience different environments. 


My name is Felix McLean. I am a 19 year old finance major, very normal, and grateful to be studying here.

I was born in Vancouver Canada and moved with my family to NYC when I was nine. I worked at a restaurant while finishing high school and moved to Midwood Brooklyn last October.

I’m seriously interested in the internet, ultra-endurance self-supported bike racing, complexity, Counter-Stirke, film, expression, chess, and the truth.

One of my favorite things to do with free time is reading what creative, intelligent people care to post online. For example, I enjoy reading George Hotz’s blog.

I enjoy being myself, having fun, and suffering.

I listen to high bpm dance music–typically nightcore versions–and Kanye West. The one thing that is amazing about songs in nightcore version is that, it is more energetic.

Embedded is a photograph of myself. I look just like this.

Reactions and observations to “Learning to Read”

During his seven-year prison sentence, Malcolm X became obsessed with reading, escaping completely into books while locked up. He quickly came to terms with his inability to read the books he wanted and to accurately express his own ideas in writing. After nearly giving up, frustrated by what seemed like an impossible task, he decided to copy out the entire dictionary. His choice to undertake this insane exercise was surprising to read about; it wasn’t the fastest way to improve his fluency, nor the easiest way to be able to read the books he wanted to read. But it gave him something very valuable: a strong, fundamental understanding of English that allowed him to read and write whatever he wanted, no longer limited by his lacking vocabulary or poor penmanship skills.

This newfound world of literature awoke inside him a long dormant craving to be mentally alive. It sparked an intense passion for learning, motivating him to study anything he felt might help the black man.

Malcolm saw it as a chance that he became educated. He picked and chose what he read, gravitating towards what he was passionate about. This is the distinction he is making by calling his education homemade; he did not learn in a college or a typical institution, he became obsessed with reading while in prison and read everything that he deemed valuable.

I identify with his self-motivated passion for study.

“Learning to Read” Excerpt

One of the details from, “Learning to Read” from The Autobiography of Malcolm X, that made a strong impression on me was the character development that he had throughout his life. We know that in 1946, he had gone to prison for robbery and in those seven years he wasted no time. He went from not being “functional” and “articulate” at writing simple English to leaving the impression that he had gone to school past the 8th grade. It is truly inspirational to see a person who started out as a street hustler become one of the most powerful leaders in America. We recall that in the excerpt Malcolm X gave us a description of what “homemade education” is. I make this term to be the epitome of determination and drive. He shows us that you can introduce yourself to knowledge that you never knew about and still master it, all it requires is infinite motivation and attempts. One of the elements that I can identify with is the sense of accomplishment throughout the text. Just like Malcolm X, it makes me feel excellent knowing that I have achieved something that I thought I couldn’t achieve on my own. Success is what makes me proud of myself and makes me feel satisfied with my understanding of the world.

“Learning to Read” excerpt

In the excerpt “Learning to Read” I learned a lot about Malcolm X that I did not know before. I knew that he was a civil rights activist and a historical figure but not any more than that. Something I observed about Malcolm X in this excerpt is that he took an unfortunate situation and made the best of it. This excerpt is an example of “if you want it, go get it” because no matter how challenging it was for Malcolm to learn how to read and write he pushed through those challenges and gave himself an education. One thing that stood out to me when I was reading was when Malcolm said that his education gave him ” a little bit more sensitivity to the deafness, dumbness, and blindness that was afflicting the black race in America”. This stood out to me because I feel as though it does not only apply to the black race but all minorities in America. Since there is sometimes a lack of education or lack of resources, minorities can be ignorant to how America causes damage in their communities.

“Learning to read” Response

I found this excerpt very fascinating and intriguing. I’ve known about Malcolm X and his work but never went in depth of who and how he was as a person. My reaction to how he basically turned something bad into something good which in this case was being in prison and using his time time in prison to expand his vocabulary and ability to write was extremely inspiring. The detail from the text that made a strong impression on me was when he needed to do self improvement. To further elaborate, Malcolm was frustrated with himself because he wasn’t able to properly express himself in the letter he wrote to Mr. Elijah Muhammad. He used this frustration as motivation to develop his vocabulary and ability to write and I honestly found that motivating and beautiful. Despite being in prison and on top of that lacking the ability to write and his lack of vocabulary, he didn’t let that bring him down but instead allowed it to motivate him to be better.  What I concluded from the author’s description of “a homemade education” is that Malcolm used what was at his disposal and made it into resources that could help him learn and practice his vocabulary and ability to write hence meaning “ a homemade education”.