Malcolm Shabazz, 28, is the first male descendent of Muslim civil and human rights activist Malcolm X. He has travelled the world to spread a message he shares with his grandfather “the importance of education & unity.”
His talk was a part of the Students Against Racism event called Freedom Dialogues.
Shabazz said that education does not just mean textbooks and traditional schooling, but rather anything that raises awareness, including spoken word, poetry and art.
“Most often, we aren’t aware of our own oppression,” Shabazz said of marginalized communities. “Today, brothers and sisters walk around as slaves, but they think they’re free.”
Shabazz was critical of the Occupy Wall Street movement that swept the world. He said that protesters were “sitting down” when they should have done more to bring change. He stressed the importance of using all the tools and technologies that are at protesters’ disposal to make a difference.
When he was the age of most students in his audience, Shabazz spent six years in prison, where he said he came across the most intelligent men he had ever met. “I knew why they were there. They were threats. Not threats in a dangerous way, but threats to the status quo.”
Shabazz said Ryerson students shouldn’t strive to recreate leaders from the past — like his grandfather or Martin Luther King — but instead create new voices of resistance.
“Everything we liked about our previous leaders is a mirror-reflection of something we possess within ourselves.”