Physical Appearance Says What Words Cannot: Comparing Gandhi and Malcolm X

Physical Appearance Says What Words Cannot: Comparing Gandhi and Malcolm X

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Throughout their lives, both Malcolm X and Gandhi had similar and contrasting physical traits. In many ways, how they appeared on the outside shaped the people they were on the inside. Clothing became a device of nonverbal communication. Whether they recognized that themselves or not, that’s how it was. Had they not been colored, they would not have had advocated for justice. Though their personal philosophies drove them in different ways to resolve oppression; one with violence and the other with peace they were motivated just as much. Nonverbal communication helped both men gain support to raise awareness and achieve justice they sought for their ethnic and religious groups.
In Gandhi’s movement to free India, he chose to boycott all English cloth and clothing. Instead, he encouraged his followers to spin their own fabric to show up the Brits who were trying to keep control. Even while in prison, he continued to make his own clothes, telling Mirabehn it was “not an accomplishment for me” (Gandhi). Whereas Malcolm X, bought his clothing wherever he could find the specific look he was going for. “A salesman, a young Jew” (Malcolm X 54). While Malcolm X tries to gain justice for the black people, he does not try to extricate himself from the ‘white man’s business’. Later on in The Autobiography of Malcolm X, he does realize the he was becoming “”pretty” by white standards” (57). Though he does not recognize that he was putting money into the white’s pockets the way Gandhi had.
During his middle school years, Malcolm X was employed as a dish washer. Saving up his money, he bought his first suit. Much like him, Gandhi wore English clothing when he was younger as well. These ‘English clothes’ symbolize the hold that w...


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... a nigger.” (Malcolm X 38). As a child, Malcolm’s father was threatened by the Ku Klux Klan and “Negroes in Lansing have always whispered that he was attacked” (10).
Though Malcolm X and Gandhi are not seemingly related, both share a great deal of similarities and differences in physical appearance. While their actions and word spoke loud; the way they dressed caught just as much attention as well as in-born traits. Their darker skin tones initiated their desire to overcome oppression and achieve justice. LIFE magazine even commented on Gandhi making clothes even while in prison because he refused anything not made by his own people. Malcolm X transitioned from different style of suits as he grew up and changed locations. Both wanted rights for their groups, but their person philosophies influenced them as people, and the way they dressed very differently.

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