Blind Conformity: Malcolm X

Tony Franklin
ENC 1101
D.J. Henry

In today's world it is often difficult to adjust to one type of
lifestyle or another. The constant bombardment of outside opinions hamper our
ability, as humans, to choose and be comfortable with a certain way of living.
Our way of living may consist of a look, a way of thinking, a religion, or any
facet of our personalities that may not conform with whatever is the norm or the
accepted at a given time. When this is the case, we sometimes feel forced to
change, thus we are susceptible to blind conformity. The word conformity comes
from the Latin words con, which means with or together, and forma, which means
to shape or mold. Therefore, blind conformity is actually a molding of
ourselves together with what is said to be normal in society instead of using
our differences to enhance ourselves as humans. Known for having strong
opinions, Malcolm X seems to be an unlikely victim of blind conformity. However,
as shown in his essay, My First Conk, Malcolm X, in fact, was victimized by this
malignant disease. Straightening black hair, though, is just one impulse that
is bought on by blind conformity. Changing one's self to look or behave like
another because it is more desired by the public is due to a disregarding of one'
s self-claimed morals and values, an over emphasis of the media and outside
opinions, and an insecurity which most of us unfortunately have.
In My First Conk, Malcolm X assured that black people were being
brainwashed to believe that they actually were inferior to white people, thus
they conked their hair. They were, essentially, giving up what they were
fighting for as far as civil rights- the right to be who they were and also be
accepted by society. Therefore, the conking of their hair was a hypocrisy and a
contradiction of all their morals and values. Blind conformity caused them to
disregard their strongest beliefs which should be the most powerful driving
forces in all of our lives. If we can not depend on our own morals and values,
our engines, to dictate our lives, we are simply empty vehicles being pushed
down life's roads. Especially in today's society, there is a dire over emphasis
of the media. Television and other types of media display certain lifestyles and
ideas and then the public automatically conforms. Having the media, which is
something so optional, control us is a reprehensible sacrilege. It is
imperative that we learn to either admire or dislike an idea without feeling the
need to immerse ourselves so fully into it. The media was a prime culprit in so
much black people conking their hair in Malcolm X's day. Seeing mostly white
people as celebrities, and the few blacks who were celebrities trying to look as
if they were white, made black people feel obligated to change. It made them
terribly insecure.
Insecurity chokes any self-esteem that a person has that might otherwise
make them feel less obligated to conform. For example, a teenager who feels he
or she is ugly is much more likely to take drastic measures to change themself,
such as straightening or dyeing their hair, than one who feels he or she is
pretty. Accordingly, it is extremely important for us to be taught from an
early age to be proud of who we are. Who is to say that soft hair is prettier
than coarse hair? Who is to say that skinny is prettier than fat? Who is to say
that white is better than black or black is better than white? Defeating
insecurity is knowing that there is no better one in these situations, but that
they are simply differences.
Blind conformity is such a strong force among humans that they will even
undergo extreme pain to fulfill it. Black people, including Malcolm X, actually
burned holes in their heads in order to conform. Countless people today are
even conforming not to conform by painfully probing metal rods through unlikely
parts of their bodies. What is this force that is driving us to hurt ourselves?
It would be extremely beneficial if we sit back and ask ourselves if it is
really worth it.