Thursday, October 4, 2012

Rooh's True Tales: My first impression with Malcolm X's grandson


Rooh with Malcolm's X's grandson. - Photo by Reza Sheikh

When I exited the car after the two-hour trek from Stockton, my legs immediately cramped up and so I just casually leaned against my dad’s ’88 Chevy Astro (he loves that car). As I awkwardly stood against the car, something fell down in front of me; I thought the world was coming to an end.
So I look up and I noticed a little tree house, some lady had managed to build a fort and was living in it for the Occupy Oakland protest. She looked down at me and yells, “Hey you there! Throw that back up here.” Cramped as I was, I leaned down with one leg in the air. I picked the thing up which turned out to be some sort of toy and threw it up there. I think I hit her in the head, but I just walked away right as soon as I heard a *thud*.
  I entered the little plaza and sat down next to my friend, Reza. There were a couple of speeches by people and then I saw him. He was wearing black and I thought to myself, “I’m wearing black, he must have good fashion taste!” He walked up to the little stage and spoke for an hour. It sounded like he never rehearsed it first, as if it was free flowing out of his mind, kind of sloppy but he got his point through, about how the government is some sort of conspiracy theory. It was pretty awkward for the cops and the mayor who were sitting there and watching.
After his speech, we marched around Oakland, which was a couple of hours and we walked like 5 miles. Malcolm Shabazz was in the very back and so I tried going up to him and talking to him but a bunch of Muslim ‘brothers’ surrounded him. I really wanted a picture with him, so one day I could show my kids and tell them of my celebrity status. Just kidding, but in all seriousness it would be pretty cool to have one with Malcolm X’s grandson.
  After the march, I finally took my friend Reza and went to Malcolm Shabazz. Reza told me to go talk to him first and I was like, “It’s not as easy as you think it is.” So I contemplated a plan where I would take the easy way out and would go stand next to him and my friend would take a quick snapshot and I would walk away, Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible style, discreetly. My friend said, "Just go up to him and ask him about his grandfather and then casually ask for a photo," but I didn’t listen. I walked up to him while he was talking to a group of people and just stood next to him.
  He looked at me and my body reflexed and I gave him a wink. I don’t know how he took that. I felt embarrassed but that did not stop me from my mission. My friend took his phone out and I gave an awkward smile, and right then, the flash went off. The plan had failed, he was onto me. I just looked away as if I never noticed my friend. Malcolm turned to me and said, “As-Salaam Aleikum, Brother,” (which means hello in Arabic), I look at him and reply, “Was-Salaam.” This is when I activate plan B, which I never wanted originally, but it was necessary to make the situation not awkward.
  I said my hellos and then asked him how his life was going (as if I was his long lost friend) and something about his grandfather. It was a nice little conversation and soon after it was time to go. I ask him, “Hey wait, can I get a quick photo” and he replied, “It’s going on Facebook, huh?” I give an awkward smirk and say, “Maybe…” He replied, “Make sure you tag me.” I give him a nod and say, “Oh yeah, for sure!” So I got up and stood next to him. He put up one finger, just like what his grandfather used to do and my friend looked at me and says, “Put a finger up!” I slowly put a finger up.
My friend took a quick snapshot and I said, “Thank you!” I give him a handshake and he started to walk away. I grabbed my friend’s phone and looked at the picture. The picture was horrible, so out of a sudden rush of adrenaline, I ran back up to Malcolm Shabazz and grabbed his shoulder and said, “I’m sorry but the photo makes me look like a pregnant mother of two, so can I get another one with you?” He shrugged and said, “Yes, that’s fine.” My friend took another shot and this time I had my eyes closed. It was hopeless. So I just said, “Thanks again.” He walked away and I end up putting up the pregnant looking photo on Facebook and on this article.
  So yeah, getting back to the point of this story. First impressions are important and most times being yourself can make other people comfortable talking to you. I was being myself with him and he seemed fine with it but I guess I’ll never know unless I ask him about it. I actually got his number, too, but I won’t be calling him or texting him anytime soon! Overall, be yourself around people, it is easier in the long run. If it is for some interview, you better be the best that you can be. That’s the only exception!

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