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Little X is also an absorbing story of a little girl whose strict Muslim education filled her with pride, confidence, and a longing for freedom, of a teenager in an ankle-length dress and headwrap struggling to fit in with non-Muslim peers, and of a young woman whose growing disillusionment with the Nation finally led to her break with the Muslim religion. Little X offers a rare glimpse into the everyday experience of the Nation of Islam, and into a little-understood part of America's history and heritage.
Sonsyrea Tate-Montgomery has been a staff writer for the Virginian Pilot, Chicago Tribune, and the Washington Post. The recipient of four coveted Echoes of Excellence awards from the National Association of Black Journalists, Tate has also worked as assistant to Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton. She currently works as a political reporter for The Gazette, a Post-Newsweek publication.
Tate, a 30-year-old journalist, offers an autobiographical portrait of her childhood in the Nation and then in orthodox Islam. Here we see how rank-and-file members of the Nation lived, how their dress, organizations, and dietary restrictions set them apart even within Islam (not only pork was forbidden, but also white rice, white potatoes, and white bread). Tate's earliest years were spent in an all-Nation school, which she attended year-round and where she was drilled with the Nation's ideology about race (that whites are blue-eyed devils and blacks the superior race) and gender roles (women's role being to bear children for the Nation). She struggled against many of the strict regulations, though this rebellion was always mixed with a sense of pride, of corporate identity. But with the 1975 death of their leader, Elijah Muhammad, Tate's family and other followers were set adrift, trying to find a place in orthodox Islam, seeking ways to juxtapose being Muslim and African-American. Tate began attending public school, wearing street clothes and enjoying new freedoms, though always with more restrictions than her classmates (and her male relatives). In her teen years, Tate's family began to crumble beneath the weight of intergenerational and religious disagreements, and orthodox Islam did not prove a strong enough force to hold them together.
Little X is a compelling story, despite an indifferent prose style, because it provides an honest, inside view of one of America's most controversial religious movements and perceptively points to social tensions of race, gender, and religious identity.
|2||Education : the mind is a terrible thing to waste||27|
|3||All praises due to Muhammad||43|
|4||One nation under a rule||61|
|5||Brothers got my back||71|
|6||Mother Earth/goddess of the universe||83|
|8||A house divided/a change gon'come||107|
|9||Out in the world||115|
|10||Wake up, everybody||131|
|11||Fight the power||145|
|12||Making modest maidens||167|
|14||Believe I'll pray on ... see what the end's gonna be||209|