Little X: Growing up in the Nation of Islam / Edition 1

Paperback (Print)
Buy Used
Buy Used from
(Save 41%)
Item is in good condition but packaging may have signs of shelf wear/aging or torn packaging.
Condition: Used – Good details
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $2.56
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 87%)
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (30) from $2.56   
  • New (12) from $11.77   
  • Used (18) from $2.56   


In Little X, Sonsyrea Tate reveals, through the acute vision and engaging voice of a curious child, the practices and policies of the mysterious organization most know only through media portrayals of its controversial leaders Elijah Muhammad, Malcolm X, and Louis Farrakhan. First published in 1997, Little X chronicles the multigenerational experience of Tate's family, who broke from the traditional black church in the 1950s to join the radical Nation of Islam, then struggled to remain intact through disillusionment, shifting loyalties, and forays into Orthodox Islam.

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.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

VOYA - Faye A. Powell
From her childhood in the sixties through her early teens, Tate was reared and educated as a "Little X" in Washington, D.C.'s Nation of Islam community. This is her account of growing up in a strict, proud, complex religion that molded yet challenged her identity. At Washington's Nation-run University of Islam, Tate attended Muslim Girls' Training classes, learning to sew and be a good wife, and regular classes that taught her reading, math, science (at a more advanced level than public school students), and that "black people, especially the few...chosen for the Nation of Islam, would rule the world." When she was nine the Nation closed its school, and Tate was enrolled in public school. "[It was like] moving to another country, adjusting to a culture and philosophy we had been trained to despise," she writes. Later, Tate, her parents, and her siblings would leave the Nation to become Orthodox Muslims, a conversion sparked by Elijah Muhammad's death; the organization's restructuring; and the hypocrisies and confusion of faith that pervaded Tate's family. But the Nation had stirred in Tate a sense of determination, and a desire to make her own decisions. By her last year in school, she was a self-motivated, independent thinker seeking her own choices about faith and worship, and considering a career in journalism. This autobiography is composed of segments of Tate's life, and after a few jumps, it flows smoothly. The people in Tate's life are not fully exposed, but each is drawn well enough for readers to get a true sense of how they helped shape the author. Little X will ring true for YAs growing up in religious communities with fundamentalist beliefs-Muslim or otherwise. VOYA Codes: 5Q 3P M J S (Hard to imagine it being any better written, Will appeal with pushing, Middle School-defined as grades 6 to 8, Junior High-defined as grades 7 to 9 and Senior High-defined as grades 10 to 12).
Kirkus Reviews
The written history of the Nation of Islam has focused heavily on the movement's leaders, such as Elijah Muhammad and Malcolm X; it has been told from an almost exclusively male perspective; and it has virtually ignored the transitional period of the 1970s, when Elijah Muhammad's son transformed the movement into one more in keeping with orthodox Islam. This cogent memoir challenges all three of these trends.

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.

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781572333642
  • Publisher: University of Tennessee Press
  • Publication date: 1/28/2005
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 935,107
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.25 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

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.
Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

1 Opening prayer 7
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
7 Dis-integrate 97
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
13 Higher learning 187
14 Believe I'll pray on ... see what the end's gonna be 209
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)