Thursday, April 28, 2011

Notes From Tripoli, Libya, Africa

Meet Hajj Malcolm Shabazz, grandson of Malcolm X, Monday, Feb. 7, 7-9 p.m., at Debug, 701 Lenzen Ave., San Jose, and Saturday, Feb. 12, 6-8 p.m., at the Peace and Justice Center, 467 Sebastopol Road, Santa Rosa, and learn about his recent hajj to Mecca and journey to Africa

by the People’s Minister of Information JR
Hajj Malcolm Shabazz spoke at a historic Pan-Afrikan conference called by the president of the African Union and the leader of the Libyan Revolution Muamar Qadafi in Tripoli, Libya, from Jan. 15-17, 2011. This photo was taken on the 50th anniversary of the assassination of the late great Congolese Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba. Hajj Malcolm, who spoke about his grandfather's connection to the Organization of African Unity and his connection to the African Union, and President Qadafi were the only two people given a standing ovation for their speeches that day. – Photo: Minister of Information JR
I was extremely humbled and honored to be invited to participate in the historic Conference of African Migrants in Europe held from Jan. 15-17 in Tripoli, Libya, the Great Jamahiriya (People’s government). My comrades and I were invited by international peace activist Cynthia McKinney, former presidential candidate and former congresswoman, to be a part of her delegation, which included Hajj Malcolm Shabazz, the grandson of the late great Malcolm X (El Hajj Malik Shabazz) and former SF Bay View writer Ra’Shida. Panels and many different speakers focused on issues that were pertinent to furthering a positive relationship between Africans on the continent with those in the diaspora. Some of the topics that stuck out to me were women having a voice, the brain drain on the continent, religious tolerance, and forging a strong connection, whether Africans want to come back to Africa or remain in the diaspora.
The first myth that was dispelled as soon as I got there was that continental Africans did not want us to come back or did not like us. The ones who live on the continent that we met were working towards realizing the dream of Marcus Garvey, Kwame Nkrumah, Seku Ture, El Hajj Malik El Shabazz aka Malcolm X, and Muamar Qadafi of uniting Africa into the United States of Africa, a true African union that would serve Africans on the continent and abroad; they loved us. Every breakfast, lunch and dinner were filled with discussions about politics, business and networking.
Minister of Information JR, Samia Nkrumah, daughter of the great Pan Africanist Kwame Nkrumah and member of parliament in Ghana, Ra’Shida and Hajj Malcolm Shabazz, grandson of the late great Hajj Malik El Shabazz aka Malcolm X, were all participants at a Pan Afrikan conference in Libya that joined Africans from the diaspora and the continent together to talk about how to better work together. It was held Jan. 15-17, 2011, in Tripoli. – Photo: Minister of Information JR
I salute the intention, the plan, and the time and energy of African people worldwide who are contributing to the multi-faceted work of uniting our people internationally into a reputable force where we have the power to determine the outcome of our lives, land and resources. I salute the conveners of the conference which made this possible for me to see. It was another example of how the international corporate news keeps the world in the dark when it comes to the accomplishments of Black people worldwide.
The conference was a three-day event where we listened to speakers who consisted of academics, international and national African leaders from around the world, religious leaders, traditional kings and queens of Africa, sultans and regular people who were participants. We met the daughter of the late great Kwame Nkrumah, Samia Nkrumah, who is a Pan African politician in her own right. We met the son of the late great Congolese Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba, Roland Lumumba.
We listened to African women who fight for women’s rights and against traditional practices that violate the rights of women. We listened to various speakers who spoke on Islamic law, religious tolerance and other issues pertinent to the politics of African people on the planet. We met ambassadors from African countries and politicians from various countries. Some had ideas similar to the Pan Africanist views of Kwame Nkrumah and Seku Ture; some differed greatly.
Roland Lumumba (left), the son of the late great Patrice Lumumba, was one of the participants at the historic Pan-African conference, along with hundreds of other Africans from the continent and from around the diaspora. – Photo: Minister of Information JR
The highlight of the conference for me was when the delegations from the diaspora were asked to submit delegates from their respective regions who would act as an advisory committee to the African Union when dealing with the diaspora in those particular regions or on issues that affect African people globally. Hajj Malcolm Shabazz was picked to sit on this committee and Ra’Shida was selected to be a sub. Other highlights of the conference were listening to the panel that Cynthia McKinney hosted, which was the only panel led by a woman during the conference, as well as listening to the speech of Hajj Malcolm Shabazz who spoke at a televised event during the conference in front of Qadafi and was the only speaker of approximately 20 other speakers, besides Qadafi himself, who was given a standing ovation.
During the conference, we learned about the Green Book, the theoretical philosophy guiding Libya, written by the leader of their revolution and president of the African Union, M. Qadafi. Some of the ideas that I have read up to this point are brilliant and deserve further study and discussion within our communities – similar to how the Panthers made the Red Book essential study for the political scientists of our communities.
The King of Burkina Faso was blinging to the utmost at a Pan Afrikan conference that was convened in Tripoli, Libya, by President Muamar Quadafi of the Jamiriya of Libya and of the African Union. A number of kings, queens, sultans and princesses represented their respective territories in Africa attended this conference. – Photo: Minister of Information JR
In terms of seeing Tripoli, we went to the Old Country of Tripoli, where we saw the Al Saraya, which is the piece of an American ship mast that was destroyed by the Libyan navy, which is hoisted on top of a building. We also saw the wall that the Roman Empire’s Marcus Aurelius built around Old Tripoli, which is close to the Mediterranean and surrounded by a harsh desert. We learned that alcohol is illegal and that there are not any public Western dance clubs in this Islamic country. Our guide told us about how most essential goods are subsidized, especially gasoline, in this petroleum rich nation. A car that would easily have taken $45 dollars to fill up cost around $10 to top off. We saw a few malls in passing, but we shopped mainly in the open-air market that was close to the hotel we stayed in. We were hesitant to venture off to far, be it that we did not speak much Arabic and we were without a car. In the streets we noticed that the closer it got to the evening, the fewer Libyan women we would see in public on any given day that we left the hotel. I don’t know why, but I chalked it up to being a cultural thing.
Overall traveling to Tripoli, Libya, Africa, for the first time was a humbling experience in itself, and to participate in such a historic conference just put the icing on the cake. I’m even more dedicated now to getting our people better organized for power in our countries and communities in Africa, and all around the planet. I cannot fully put into words the way that this experience has affected me spiritually, politically and in many other ways. The only thing I can say is that I think all Black people should travel to Africa, the Motherland, at least once in their life if possible.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Live From Saudi Arabia

by Minister of Information JR
Malcolm: In the middle is Sheikh Faisal Ghazawi, Imam of the Mosque Haramain. The Holy Kabaa in Makkah is in the backround.
El Hajj Malik El Shabazz, formerly known as Malcolm X, was one of the first Muslim Black men on a world stage from the United States to make the Hajj to Mecca. This trip was very pivotal in his life, because it gave him new experiences and time to think, having left the Nation of Islam, where he was the national spokesperson, after more than a decade of service.

According to the “Autobiography of Malcolm X,” it was at this time when he recognized how powerful his voice was. He was greeted by heads of state from around the world, including many of the revolutionary leaders of the time, as well as being refused entry by France and Ethiopia.
Approximately four and half decades later, his grandson, Malcolm Shabazz, who is also Muslim, working in the service of oppressed people, made his pilgrimage. This is the first interview to be published in the U.S. about his experience.
Minister of Information JR: When you arrived in Medina and Mecca, what were the first things you noticed? What did it feel like?
Malcolm Shabazz: In the name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful, I for one have been all over the Middle East – from Qatar to the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and so forth. And I must say that Madina [an alternate spelling of Medina, the second holiest city in Islam] and Mecca definitely stood apart.
Malcolm Shabazz: On my right side is my companion brother Muhammad Ali, and on my left is Shazaad Muhammad (Abu Hurairah), president of the Canadian Dawah Association and Ambassador of Peace with the Universal Peace Federation (UPF) under the U.N. He has brought Loon, Freeway and Mike Tyson to visit Saudi Arabia in the past.
For one, it’s a main pillar of Islam and obligatory upon every single Muslim around the world to at least have the sincere intention to make the holy pilgrimage to the Kaaba in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, at least once in their lifetime if they are physically and financially able. I personally know quite a few people who have been on Hajj, and everyone had spoken of this “holy” experience. I never met a person who expressed disappointment or had something of an ill experience to relay.

I know people who came back from Hajj, and after a few weeks, let alone a few months, they were right back to their old ways. They could damn near tell me about the Hajj with an alcoholic beverage in their hand in the same instance. Yet, I also know others who have made the pilgrimage, and I can bear witness to the awesomely profound impact that it has had on their lives.
It had such a profound impact on my grandfather’s life. So I came over here anticipating much – though not knowing quite exactly what to expect. The most I could say is that my intentions were pure. So before embarking on this journey, I resolved towards devoting my heart to Allah, stripping it of every preoccupation and barrier.
I arrived in Madina on Nov. 5 at approximately 10 minutes before our morning prayer was to begin, which was about 4:55 a.m. One of the things that I immediately noticed was that despite the fact that there were millions upon millions of pilgrims that had all come in to the same place around the same time and from all over the world, the atmosphere was still so calm and serene.
Malcolm Shabazz: Here I am at the Iranian Mission in Madina, Saudi Arabia, with Shia Muslim brothers from Nigeria.
I had never witnessed this many people in one place at the same time nor do I believe I ever will again unless I’m blessed to return again for Hajj. I kind of felt like I was at the ultimate concert. Exception being that this wasn’t a concert for a rapper, singer or any other type of entertainer. Rather we were all here for the sake of seeking nearness to Allah.

M.O.I. JR: How were you received? How do people look at young Black men from America?
Malcolm Shabazz: Well, I personally was received quite well for the most part. Though we must also bear in mind that here on earth every place has its ups and downs, and anywhere you go in this world you will witness that Black people are most generally discriminated against. However, this prejudice has absolutely nothing to do with Al-Islam.
When most people in the Middle East encounter Black people from the States they most likely assume that we are from Nigeria, Sudan or a host of other African countries – unless they take notice to our American style of dress, the fact that we speak English and so forth. When they find out that one of us is actually from America, they become quite curious.
Many of them are unaware that there are many Black Muslims in the United States. And all that most of them know of us is what has been portrayed to them of us on television as being entertainers, athletes, criminals and thugs. It goes to show the power of mainstream media and how they don’t have our best interests at heart.
Malcolm: To my left is Sheikh Saleh Husain, president of the affairs of both the Grand Mosque (Masjidul Haraam) and the Prophet’s Mosque (Masjidun Nabi).
However, I couldn’t wholly blame them for their perspectives of us. The way we most often perceive ourselves to be is the image that will be projected onto others. And what we as Black Amerikkans generally project onto others are images of ourselves that have been fostered to us by our oppressors. Case in point, when our oppressors called us “Niggers,” then we referred to ourselves as such; when our oppressors later came along and told us to call ourselves “Negros,” we began to refer to each other as such; then they later came along and told us that it was more politically correct to refer to ourselves as “African-Americans” and we accepted that also.

Thus, we as a people have the responsibility of collectively standing for something, otherwise falling for anything and continually allowing others to define who we are for us.
M.O.I. JR: What have been some of the highlights of your Hajj?
Malcolm Shabazz: It was a blessing for me of such a profound magnitude to be afforded the opportunity to worship Allah (God) within the Masjid-e-Quba, which is located between Makkah [an alternate spelling of Mecca, the holiest city in Islam] and Madina, and is the first Masjid ever to be built in the time of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). It is also the first Masjid where Salatul Jama’ (Congregational Prayer) was recited.
I also offered many prayers within the Masjidun Nabi (The Prophet’s Mosque), which was the second Mosque to be built in Madina. This is the city of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) himself, and it was quite humbling to realize that I was actually treading upon the very soil that he once set foot upon as well. This is the first city in the world where Islam was firmly established.
I also went to visit the battlefield of Uhud, where the second battle of Islam took place. It is also where Hazrat Hamza, the Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) uncle, is buried. I met with royalty, dignitaries and various other high ranking Saudi officials, including Sheikh Saleh Husain, President of Affairs of both the Grand Mosque (Masjidul Haraam) and the Prophet’s Mosque (Masjidun Nabi); Sheikh Faisal Ghazawi, Imam of the Grand Mosque (Haramain); Dr. Anwar Eshki, former Major General of Saudi forces and President of the Middle East Center; and Abdulrahman Zamil, former member of the Shura Council.
M.O.I. JR: What are you looking forward to?
: My grandfather once said that “The past is not to be dwelt upon, but rather looked to as a road map or compass – in the present – in order to help us successfully navigate into the future.” Now at present, and by the Will and Grace of Allah, I am a revolutionary Muslim who is in service to the people, especially to the masses of downtrodden and oppressed.
Malcolm: To my left is Dr. Anwar Eshki, retired Major General of Saudi forces, stepson of Jamil Al-Amin (H. Rap Brown), and to my far left is Ambassador Mohammed Bin Sahl, head of Strategic and Legal Studies.
Malcolm Shabazz

Though if I have learned anything from my grandmother, Dr. Betty Shabazz, it’s that [people] must first help themselves before they could even begin to think about being a savior towards others. So during the most recent stages of my journey, I had been more busy with self-building; however, at this phase I am more inclined and prepared to work on building more extensively with others. Although it must be kept in mind that the act of enlightening others is dependent upon and goes hand in hand with the purification of the self.
After a hajji returns from Makkah and Madina, it becomes an obligation for them to convey that which they have brought back with them (self-building) through their actions. My speech, actions, manner and disposition must be an example for others. And this truly is the best gift that I can bring back for the people.
M.O.I. JR: What new insights have you had since you left the United States?
Malcolm Shabazz: Unfortunately, wisdom doesn’t come with age, but rather with experience, as experience is irrefutably the best of teachers. While knowledge is simply to know-the-ledge through familiarity or awareness, wisdom is that acquired knowledge tried and tested – through trial, error and tribulation – to bring about the best of understanding.

Now at present, and by the Will and Grace of Allah, I am a revolutionary Muslim who is in service to the people, especially to the masses of downtrodden and oppressed. – El Hajj Malcolm Shabazz

If it’s at all true that we are, somewhat, products of our environments, then I suppose it would explain my current circumstances, the events which lead up to these points and why I had ever been as I was in thought and through action – though it is not necessary for me to run down a list of ills that may have affected me in one way or another.
I have quite often been placed in many undesirable situations, yet I alone made the decisions which produced the consequent outcomes. We often find ourselves in situations where we wish that we could turn back the hands of time, to go back and do things differently – though time-travel isn’t a reality. So, the only remedy is to be as conscious as possible in the present, in order to successfully navigate into the future.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Legacy of El Hajj Malik el Shabazz

by POCC Minister of Information JR
Malcolm Shabazz
Feb. 21, 1965, the late great El Hajj Malik El Shabazz aka Malcolm X was assassinated in front of his family by agents of the U.S. government, in front of his daughters and his pregnant wife, and in front of the world with photos of his body all over the media the next day. This was a move by COINTELPRO to silence one of the strongest and most effective revolutionary voices of Black people in the U.S. to date. After his spirit passed on, his writings and teachings really took root in the minds of a new generation even to the point of inspiring young Black people in Oakland to create an organization later known as the Black Panther Party. Forty-five years later, his first male heir and grandson, Malcolm Shabazz, has come to the Bay to speak and take in the politics of the Bay Area for the first time. This is an interview that we recorded a few weeks prior to him touching down. Here he is in his own words …
MOI JR: You are listening to another edition of POCC Block Report Radio with Minister of Information JR. Today my honored guest is Malcolm Shabazz, otherwise known as the grandson of the late great El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, otherwise known as Malcolm X. How are you, Malcolm?
Malcolm Shabazz: I’m good, thank you. I’m honored for this opportunity to speak with you.
MOI JR: Man, I’m honored to have you on here. Well, just to kick it off, man, because this is the first interview I’ve done with you and I haven’t seen too many other interviews done with you. Can you tell us what it is like to be the grandson of the late great Malcolm X aka El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz?
Malcolm Shabazz: I feel just like everybody else, but at times it can seem to be a blessing and at other times it can seem to be a curse, depending on the situation. A lot of people love me and there are also those that hate me. Most of the people that hate me are because they don’t know me or they’re ignorant to certain issues or they listen to the media or certain articles that are written about me by people that don’t know me.
It can be a lot of pressure at times. Like growing up, I was placed in many situations where, say, one person, you can invite them to your house and they might throw up on the carpet. You say, oh they threw up and you help them to clean up the mess. But me, you know, I was under a magnifying glass or a spotlight. So say if I spit on the sidewalk, everyone would be like hey, what the hell is wrong with him?
It’s been a curse in certain situations, dealing with police, certain politicians and government officials. But it has also been a blessing being able to network with other revolutionary spirited individuals that are people that help to put me on to things and gain awareness.
MOI JR: Can you talk a little about your family life? Were you sheltered because of who your grandparents were?
Malcolm Shabazz: I was sheltered early on up until about the age of 9. I was raised in a family of all women. So at a certain point in my life, I started to rebel because there was no real male influence or father figure around. The closest thing I could see that represented strength to me were the cats you would see out on the corner. They were either drug dealers, gang bangers or whatever but those were the only males I could identify with that represented strength that I could immediately seek right there out in the community, so I kind of gravitated towards that. I went through a rebellious phase early on in my life, but prior to that I was somewhat sheltered.
MOI JR: How old are you now and where did you grow up?
Malcolm Shabazz: Right now I am 25 years old and I grew up all over the United States of America. I was born in Paris, France, and came to the states when I was about 3 years old. From there, I have lived in Philadelphia, California, different places in New York, Minnesota, Texas and many other different places. Right now I am in Miami, Florida. I have spent some time recently overseas studying.
MOI JR: When you were younger, you were accused of lighting the fire that killed your grandmother, Betty Shabazz. Can you talk a little about that incident, as well as the media portrayal of it?
Malcolm Shabazz: At a young age, I was about 12 years old and my mother was dealing with a case against the federal government for allegedly hiring a hit man to assassinate Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan. During this time, it was a real tense climate and there was so many things going on with my family. I didn’t really understand everything at that age. I couldn’t be with my mother and I really wanted to be with her and I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t be with her.
So back in New York, not knowing where my mother was and being concerned and worried about her, I started to act out and do anything I could to be sent back to my mother, not understanding the ramifications of all my actions. I started to steal money, steal cars, run away from home and unfortunately one of the last things I did was set this fire.
The reason why I did these things was because I wanted my family here in New York to take the position, “He is out of control. We can’t control him so let’s send him back to his mother.” That was my logic. But when I got the idea to set this fire, I set it and didn’t have any intention to harm my grandmother. It was my intention to be mischievous to be sent away back to my mother but it wasn’t my intention for anyone to get hurt. My grandmother got hurt in the process and she ended up losing her life and it is something I deeply regret.
Me and my grandmother had a strong relationship. We probably had the strongest relationship than anybody else in my family. I loved her a lot and she loved me a lot. I was one of her favorites, you know.
The media portrayed it as it was something that I did purposefully or however they portrayed it. But that was not the case. That’s not what it is. I have even gave interviews in the past and after the interview they have stated that I expressed no remorse. Like I didn’t care, which is not true. This is my grandmother and I loved her deeply. To even have a grandmother pass away, of course, it hurts. But to have her pass away based on the actions that I took is even worse.
For a long period of time, I was just lost. I couldn’t speak to people. The media was coming at me from all of these different directions. All these people were trying to profile me and exploit me.
But basically with that situation, I set the fire to be mischievous to get sent back to my mother and didn’t intend on anyone getting hurt in the process. She ended up losing her life. I deeply regret that. Actually, it is the only regret I have in my life out of all the other mistakes that I have ever made.
MOI JR: Can you talk about your most recent case and what happened?
Malcolm Shabazz: Back in 2002, I was 17 years old and I was at a party in Middletown, New York. There was an individual who was a gang member and a drug dealer who tried to rape a 12-year-old girl. I defended the girl, resulting in an altercation taking place. This individual that I had the altercation with ended up in the hospital.
When I went to court, they didn’t let the girl testify, so it was almost like the rape incident didn’t take place. They didn’t let her testify because she was underage and her parents didn’t want her involved. So her testimony wasn’t admissible. The guy, despite the fact that he was a drug dealer or whatever, they just looked the other way.
I was in a town which was in Upstate, New York. It’s in an all-white area. When it came down to it, it was time for me to go to court. The thing was, was that I was facing all these charges. I was facing kidnapping, burglary, robbery and possession of a weapon. They listed me with all these charges, even though, like possession of a weapon, I had no weapon. You know, certain things they just listed it so they would have it.
So basically, when it came down to it, it’s time to go to court and I’m facing 56 years. My lawyer is asking me, “What do you want to do?” I asked him, “What are my chances of beating this case?” They say 50-50 based on certain things – 50-50 on 56 years? I was not really trying to take the risk.
So they also tell me, the jury could think that they were doing you a favor by letting you off on certain charges and sticking you with one or two. But by that you could still end up with 14 years. So they gave me a plea bargain of two and a half years. I took the two and a half years even though I wasn’t guilty of what they were asking me to admit to, which was a robbery. There was no robbery that ever took place. They asked me to admit to this in order to get this two and a half years. So I took that and they told me to return in 45 days to turn myself in.
Unfortunately, when the 45 days came, I didn’t run but I couldn’t bring myself to turn myself in either. So they ended up catching up with me and added on an extra year and a half. So I ended up with three and a half years. And after I was in the system, I had problems with the police and the racist COs (correctional officers) up north. Of my three and a half years, I ended up doing all of it. I came home on parole and the parole thing was not working for me. I couldn’t last too much in the streets on parole. They kept sending back, sending back. One time they sent me back for a year in the Athens State Correctional Facility for being a half an hour late from coming home from school.
MOI JR: Wow! Well, I think you hit on it a little bit, but can you hit it direct: How were you treated by the police specifically with you being the grandson of Malcolm?
Are you the sole male heir and, if you are or not, can you tell us how law enforcement treats you specifically in prison and on the streets?
Malcolm Shabazz: No, I am not the sole male heir, but I am the first male heir. I have a little cousin named Malik Shabazz. He is 20 years old right now.
When I was in prison, it was interesting because when you first go in, in New York City, like Rikers Island or any prison close to the city, the majority of the COs are going to be Black and Spanish. But then they also have the prisons that are way up in the mountains close to Canada, like Attica, Comstock, Great Meadow, where all the police are from the communities up there, so they are all white.
All white, 100 percent – people that have never been to the city before in their life. It’s about probably six to nine hours away from New York City. They’ve never seen so many Black and Spanish people except for where they work as prison guards in the jail. So the mentality that they have with us is that we are animals.
They wouldn’t keep me in a prison where there were all Black and Spanish COs because if they kept me in a prison like this they were more inclined to treat me like a human being. So what they would do was they would try to break me. When I first went into a correctional facility, I was 17 years old. They put me straight into a maximum security prison and gave me the highest security classification possible. I was classified with like drug kingpins, terrorists, things of this nature. I’m only 17 years old. So I was placed in prison with individuals that were never going home. They have life. They did this as an attempt to break me, but it only made me stronger.
Now when I went up there, one of the things I noticed up north was that you have red-neck racist pigs that have tattoos of Black babies hanging from trees. I couldn’t imagine it. How is it possible that they are allowed to work here? How is this allowed? How is this permitted?
If you are not a racist, you could go into that environment and definitely become a racist because it is a different energy. These pigs would line up and have their sticks out and they would threaten you and taunt you, waiting for you to do something. They would have this deep hatred in their eyes with the veins popping out of their neck. That was the type of environment I was in. So I ended up having a few altercations with the police.
Another thing I noticed was that they had this divide and conquer tactic where they had the inmates fight each other in order to keep control. It’s more of us than them but in order for them to keep control, they got to throw all of these things in the mix in order for us to fight each other.
So when I got there, certain things I noticed and I spoke on these issues and I got some of the inmates to come together and we developed a little more unity and strength in there. When we would walk up the hallway, there wasn’t no more mean mugs; it was Black Power fists.
MOI JR: That’s the business.
Malcolm Shabazz: I basically got set up by the police two times. Ended up having some physical altercations with them and they sent me to the box. They jumped me and sent me to the box. Tried to keep me in there indefinitely, extend my time. Most of my stay in prison, all of my problems, were with the police, never with any of the inmates.
MOI JR: How did the inmates treat you?
Malcolm Shabazz: The inmates treated me with a lot of respect. There are two times in my life where I really understood more of who my grandfather was and the legacy I represent.
One time was when I was 9 years old and I was in North Philly and I got robbed for some money. I was like 10 years old. One of the local kids had robbed me for some money I had. He didn’t know who I was. I told a Muslim sister about it and she made a phone call.
Thirty brothers came and asked me what happened. They were organized and I told them what happened. They went out and said they’ll be back. They went out and came back with more money than the kid took. The next day I saw the kid, who was about 16 or 17 years old. He apologized and said if there was anything I needed, he had my back. That was one time when I was like, hold on. I really didn’t understand because I was like 10 and really didn’t realize what all of this was about.
The second time was when I went to prison. I went to prison, and you would be surprised that people think everybody in prison is an animal, thug or gangsta. But some of the most intelligent people, some of the most intelligent brothas I met in my life were in prison. I don’t even regret the experience of being there. While I was there, it was rough, it was difficult. But after going through it, I’m glad that I met some of the brothas that I met who really put me on and had me reading certain books and they showed me a lot of love.
MOI JR: When were you unleashed and what have you been up too since?
Malcolm Shabazz: I was released Dec. 24, 2008. That’s when I maxed out and all my time was done. The leash was taken off of my neck and it’s interesting because even when I was on parole, every two months they would find an excuse to lock me up. I didn’t even have to commit a crime. Then they would write about it in the paper and make it seem like I was out there ripping and running reckless, which wasn’t the case. But since I have been off of parole, out of the system completely, I’ve been doing real good.
I got out Dec. 24, 2008, and from there I went to spend time with my aunt in New York, Ilyasah, and we went to Qatar, like three weeks later we went to Doha, Qatar, in the Middle East for a Muslim Leaders of Tomorrow conference. I networked, made a lot of good contacts. I came back for a little bit and then I decided to go overseas and study a little bit more. So I went to Damascus, Syria, and I studied there for about a year. I actually just came back from there on April 9. I had a good time. It was a wonderful experience. I was in Dubai, Lebanon, Jordan, Syria and Doha, Qatar .
Back in November and December, I was invited by a community based organization, Algerian and Moroccan, in Paris, France. They invited me there to speak. I was a guest of honor. I sat on the panel along with two other individuals to speak on various issues like social political issues, education, racial discrimination – things that they were dealing with. I also went to Amsterdam and shot a music video with a Muslim sister that I met in Doha, Qatar. I met her and she ended up writing a song about me. So I went out there and shot a video with her.
Now I’m back in the states working on my book that should be out maybe in 2011. That’s going real good and I’m just taking it easy. I’m giving speeches at mosques, schools, where I’m speaking to the youth and it’s wonderful. I feel blessed and I feel good. I feel like I’m on the right path and I’m moving forward in a positive direction.
MOI JR: Do you have the same political and spiritual beliefs as your grandfather?
Malcolm Shabazz: For the most part, yes. I’m a Muslim. I’m a practicing Muslim. That’s why I was in the Middle East. I was studying Islam. I do believe I have similar political views. Like some places where I go to speak, I don’t feel like my views are too radical or anything extreme at all. But sometimes they will say, “Oh yeah, we understand why you say this or that because of who your grandfather is. But what do you mean by that? You’re extreme.” It’s not extreme; it’s the truth. It’s unfortunate that today the way the mindset of the people is when they hear the truth they consider it radical or extreme.
MOI JR: What is your relationship, if any, with the Nation of Islam?
Malcolm Shabazz: My relationship with the Nation of Islam? To me they are not Muslim. I believe they are a deviant sect. Anybody that believes that the White man is the devil and the Black man is God, I can’t go for that. You just have to learn from history and the situations that happened with my grandfather; it’s all there.
I believe that there is a lot of sincere Brothas and Sistas in the Nation of Islam. But I don’t believe in their leadership at all.
MOI JR: Who do you believe killed your grandfather and why?
Malcolm Shabazz: I believe my grandfather was killed by the same people that killed Martin Luther King, the same people that killed Medgar Evers, the same people that assassinated Fred Hampton. These are all the same people: the United States government. They are behind the scenes and they pull the strings. But you are never going to see a government official with a suit and a badge walk up to you and pull the trigger. They are going to get somebody that looks like you to do their dirty work. So I believe they manipulated people, especially within the Nation of Islam, and they traded time for the assassination to take place.
MOI JR: How do you feel about the government releasing the self-confessed assassin of your grandfather a few months ago?
Malcolm Shabazz: Actually, a lot of people ask me that and I really have no ill will toward that individual, to be honest with you. He was a pawn and he did a lot of time. I believe in the hereafter. Everybody accounts for their actions one way or another in this life or the next life. So I don’t feel any ill will towards him. If I saw him today, I would want to sit down and want to ask him some questions but I wouldn’t feel like I’d have to do something towards him.
MOI JR: Man, you’re more graceful than I am about that issue.
Malcolm Shabazz: If anybody else were to do anything, I wouldn’t hold it against them. I could understand how they feel. But it’s just me personally, you know.
MOI JR: No doubt, no doubt. If people want to keep up with you and what you got going, man, how can they do that? Are you anywhere on line?
Malcolm Shabazz: I’m on Facebook (laughs). But I just got back to the states, so I got to get my little foundation together. There is the internet, but a lot of things on the internet are false.
MOI JR: No doubt.
Malcolm Shabazz: I will be speaking a lot more and my book is about to come out soon, Insha’Allah. And maybe I will have a website up soon, but I’m just getting back from the states. I’ve been back for a month so Insha’Allah, you can just keep your eyes open.
MOI JR: Well, what’s your book about?
Malcolm Shabazz: My book is, I wouldn’t say is an autobiography because I’m too young. I’m only 25 years old. But it’s like a memoir slash “coming of age” with social-political commentary. It’s basically different experiences I’ve been through directly from my mouth. I’m explaining what happened here, what happened there. What decision did I make and why I did I choose to make this decision and what could have been done differently. There are a lot of things people think they know that they don’t know. They read about it in the media, but the media is like, believe half of what you see, none of what you hear, if that.
I’ve read a lot of books. I’ve read a lot of articles people have written about me as if they know me, as if they were there. I’ve never met them. I’ve never sat down with them. They never interviewed me, anybody in my family or anybody that even knows me. So where does the information come from that they get to write about? So this book is very important for me because people everywhere I go, certain things I try to do, they always want to ask me the same questions. So now, by me putting this out there, it gives me the opportunity to clear everything. Clear the record. Set it straight. Expose some things and also move on into other areas.
MOI JR: Last but not least and the most insignificant of all the questions, man, have you ever met Nas? Nas had some lyrics where he directly talked about you.
Malcolm Shabazz: I have never met Nas but I know Nas is a 5 percenter. You know, I always liked his music until one of cousins, LeAsah, told me. She is from California, Crenshaw Long Beach area. One day she asked me, “Do you know what Nas said about you on his new track?” and I was like naw, send it to me. So she sent it to me. I was locked up at the time. She sent it to me and I was like, Wow, because I had a lot of respect and admiration for him. So I felt a little bad about that and at that time when I heard it, I wished I was a rapper . He doesn’t know me; he never met me. For him to say that, I would think he had more sense than that.
MOI JR: Exactly. That is why Chairman Fred ADDRESSED him on your behalf. But thank you, Malcolm Shabazz. If there is anything else you wish to say, go ahead.
Malcolm Shabazz: Thank you. It’s been a pleasure and an honor. I just want to shout out everybody in California, especially Oakland and the San Francisco Bay Area. When I was locked up, I was in the box 23½ hours lockdown and most of all my mail came from there. I had somebody from South Central send me a dollar and that meant more to me than anything else. Fred Hampton Jr. and Yuri Kochiyama.
MOI JR: Right on, man. Well, thank you for being on the Block Report. This is the first of many, you know what I’m saying, and you already know this is one of your media homes. You can call on us whenever you need to say something or whenever you want to push something, man.
Malcolm Shabazz: Thank you. I appreciate it.
POCC Minister of Information JR spoke after Bobby Seale at the Black Panther Party's 43rd reunion, held at Laney College in Oakland Oct. 24, 2009. - Photo: Malaika Kambon
MOI JR: All right, thank you, comrade. Malcolm Shabazz: Black power, Black love!
MOI JR: That’s right. Free ‘em all!
Malcolm Shabazz: Free ‘em all!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Malcolm Shabazzz Engages West Oakland

Shabazz Speaks: Malcolm X’s grandson engages West Oakland community

Malcolm Shabazz, grandson of Malcolm X. Photo by Eric Arnold Malcolm Shabazz, grandson of Malcolm X. Photo by Eric Arnold
One day after a Walnut Creek rally for convicted ex-cop Johannes Mehserle, a standing room-only, multi-genrational and multicultural crowd of around 100 packed the Black Dot Café in West Oakland to hear Malcolm Shabazz - the grandson of assassinated African-American icon El Hajj Malik El Shabazz, better known as Malcolm X.
Though a little-known personage in the social justice, black politics and African American Islamist worlds, Shabazz showed the potential to be a rising star in all of the above categories. For most of the discussion, he recounted autobiographical tales of his troubled, convoluted path: how he grew up as the only male in a family with six women, unaware of his grandfather’s iconic stature; how he became rebellious as a youth, falling in with gangsters and hustlers and moving from group homes to detention facilities to juvenile halls to maximum-security prisons.
Despite Tuesday's lively talk, Oscar Grant’s shadow loomed just as large over the discussion as Malcolm X’s.
That the Mehserle trial, verdict and rally were still a hot topic of discussion in Oakland was made evident by the opening remarks, by Grant’s uncle, Ceephus “Bobby” Johnson, and Jack Bryson, the father of Grant’s best friends, who were with him on the platform that fateful New Year’s Day morning.

Bryson compared the scene Monday in Walnut Creek to Selma, Alabama, during the height of the Civil Rights Movement and vowed not to stop his activism “until we get justice for Oscar.”
Johnson framed the verdict as a both a small but important victory and a first step in a larger movement, remarking, “even though it’s Involuntary Manslaughter, we cracked that door open.”
Noting the support of the longshoreman’s union, which he suggested could result in a possible shutdown of the Port of Oakland, Johnson provided historical context for Grant’s murder by pointing out that in 1935, two longshoremen were shot in the back by Oakland police.
“How does the system begin to work for us?” he asked.
A brief recap of the trial by two of the African-American youths who attended the proceedings, only to be ejected from the courtroom (one under arrest) followed. All the speakers were met with hearty applause. The cheers continued when Shabazz strode to the podium, flanked by two bodyguards, who stood stone-faced and impassive.
Shabazz recounted how, as a 12-year old child seeking to be reunited with his mother, he set a house fire, which killed his grandmother, Betty Shabazz — an incident he said he’ll regret for he rest of his life. He claimed he was framed and wrongly accused of three serious felonies, which carried a maximum term of 56 years, and wound up serving 3 ½ years after copping a plea bargain. He compared prison labor to slavery, noting that household products such as soap and toothbrushes (as well as police uniforms) are manufactured by prison laborers.
Shabazz spoke of being paroled and, after acing the SAT, attending the John Jay School of Criminal Law, a convicted felon surrounded by law enforcement professionals and attorneys — an experience he described as “therapeutic.” He spoke openly about his authority and anger-management issues, as well as the evolution of his awareness about his family’s legacy. Not only were his father and grandfather murdered for their activism, he said, but also his great-grandfather and great-great grandfather. But his mother — who was only 4 when her father was killed — didn’t talk much about X and it was only later in life, after becoming a devout Shi’a Muslim, that Shabazz began to embrace his familial lineage and followed in the footsteps of his grandfather, who was also a petty hustler and criminal before becoming a Nation of Islam minister.
Currently, Shabazz is writing his autobiography, the final chapter of which will feature him retracing his grandfather’s Haj, or pilgrimage to Mecca, as well as visits to then-newly-independent African nations.
Shabazz’ speech was peppered with observations about juvenile delinquency, incarcerated life, the media (“believe half of what you see and none of what you hear,” he said) and resistance to systemic oppression. But where he really came into his own was in the Q&A that followed the speech, in which his charisma, intelligence and burgeoning wisdom shone.
He proved himself knowledgable not just about the justice system, but also in the subtle differences between Islamic sects. He spoke eloquently and articulately about the life of his grandfather and the straw-man arguments that typify racial debates in America. X, he reminded the crowd, preferred the more universal, global term “human rights” over “civil rights.” And, he said, his grandfather only became a threat to the power structure after his Haj, when he “no longer had the ideology that all white people were devils.”
When a woman — who said she was raising the sons of her murdered brother — asked how she could keep them out of the prison system, Shabazz ruminated on the sad reality of black-on-black crime and how the alleged Obamanian post-racial society represents “an illusion of progress.” Naming X along with other leaders of the Civil Rights Era such as Medgar Evers, Ralph Abernathy and "Dr. King," he said the state of affairs in 2010 is actually a “leap backwards in terms of consciousness.” Finally, he directly addressed the woman’s question: “It starts with education.”
Shabazz finished the Q&A to more cheers, as the donation bucket was passed around by BlackDot staffers J.R. Valrey and Sahfari Ra. A woman announced she had made a few plates of rice and beans and plantitos, apologizing for underestimating the turnout. Pictures were snapped, autographs were signed and the schmoozing began.

Eric K Arnold's picture
Eric K. Arnold has been writing about urban music culture since the mid-1990s, when he was the Managing Editor of now-defunct 4080 Magazine. Since then, he’s been a columnist for such publications as The Source, XXL, Murder Dog,, and the East Bay Express; his work has also appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, Vibe, Wax Poetics, SF Weekly, XLR8R, the Village Voice and Jamrock, as well as the academic anthologies Total Chaos and The Vinyl Ain’t Final. Eric began his journalistic career while DJing on college radio station KZSC, and remembers well the early days of hip-hop radio, before consolidation, and commercialization set in. He currently lives in Oakland, California.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Malcolm Shabazz Working On Memoirs In Miami

Written by ISHEKA N. HARRISON   
malcolm-shabazz_web.jpgBelieve half of what you see and none of what you hear,” is the advice 25-year-old Malcolm Shabazz has for anyone who thinks they know him, his story or his family.

Shabazz is the grandson, namesake and first male heir of slain revolutionary leader Malcolm X. Currently in Miami working on a book of memoirs, Shabazz said he is all too familiar with character assassination.

“The things the media said are lies; its slander and its backbiting. People that have not met me think that they know me and they think they know everything about me. But when they meet me, they find differently. Unfortunately, I’m not going to be able to meet everybody that’s wrote about me or read about me, so they’re entitled to their opinion,” Shabazz told the South Florida Times.

And just what does everybody have an opinion about?

When Shabazz was 12 years old, he started a house fire in which, his grandmother, Betty Shabazz, sustained burns over 80 percent of her body.  She eventually died from the injuries.

But Shabazz said his grandmother getting hurt was the last thing on his mind. He’d been separated from his mother for two years, after the FBI accused her of plotting to kill Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, and said he yearned to be reunited with her. 

“I was taken away from her and I couldn’t understand why.  I really wanted to be with her.  Nothing was consistent.  I was shuttled from place to place. 
Everybody was too busy and there was no stability. I thought that if I acted out badly enough, they’d send me back to my mom,” Shabazz recalled.
Being so young, Shabazz said he didn’t think about the consequences of his actions.

“I was 12 years old so I wasn’t really thinking. My grandmother and I had the best relationship. At the time, I didn’t realize that she would think I was caught in the fire and try to come and get me,” Malcolm recalled.

After that, the general public and experts alike said Shabazz was psychotic and he was placed in a juvenile institution. Then when he was 17 years old, Shabazz said he was defending a young lady at a party, and the situation escalated.

“I was at a party and a dude tried to rape this girl. I defended the girl. This individual ended up in the hospital. The girl’s testimony was inadmissible because of her age, and her parents wouldn’t let her testify,” Shabazz shared.

After that, Shabazz was charged with kidnapping, burglary, assault, possession of a weapon and coercion, among other things. He said that because he was facing 56 years, he was advised to admit to a crime he said he did not commit. He accepted a plea and served six years in a super-maximum security prison.
Admitting that he has a tainted past, Shabazz insists that, like his grandfather, people have unjustly vilified him.  His charge to those who are curious: “Investigate the matter for yourself.”

“God gave us an intellect, and there’s more than one side to a story.  You have to be able to use your intellect and decipher that which is real from that which is fake. It’s better when you get to know the individual and take it directly from the horse’s mouth,” Shabazz said.

It is for this reason that Shabazz said he chose to come to Miami and write his coming-of-age memoir, which will include social and political commentary. The Shiite Muslim, who recently returned from studying religion and theology in Damascus, Syria, said he hopes that his book will correct, once and for all, the false perceptions about him.

“This book is about a lot of the things I’ve been through and my experiences. With it I’ll clear up a lot of misconceptions. I came to Miami because this is a good environment for me to write. It’s a different pace than what I’m used to. I need some time for my mind to be clear, and I figured this would be a nice environment with its nice weather, beautiful people and different nationalities,” Shabazz said.

Shabazz plans to have his book completed by May 19, 2011, which would have been his grandfather’s 86th birthday.  By that time, he said that he will have made his pilgrimage to Mecca and retraced some of his grandfather’s steps.

While he’s in Miami on business, Shabazz has made it his business to give back during his stay.

“I want to do as much as I can in the community while I’m out here in Miami,” Shabazz said.

Thus far, he’s spoken to several youth groups; served as a panelist at a Teen Speak event promoting non-violence; sponsored a child by playing with them in a Father/Child Basketball Tournament; and helped with a basketball camp run by Isaiah Thomas and his coaching staff at Florida International University.

Next on the agenda, Shabazz will speak about his journey to Islam on Friday, July 2 at the Ershad Center as a part of Islam in America: Past, Present & Future in South Miami.

Shabazz said his last name is Persian, and it means royal falcon.  It’s fitting, he said because, like a falcon, he has risen above his circumstances, and is now prepared to take flight.

“I don’t think a lot of people could have gone through what I’ve gone through without breaking,” Shabazz said.

Besides my grandmother’s death, I don’t have any real regrets in life,” he continued  “I never cursed any particular situation or circumstance, because it’s these experiences which have made me stronger. Even in the [Holy] Qur’an it says that ‘man is built to toil the struggle.’ I always try to look for the blessing in what may seem to be the curse. I think I’m doing pretty good. All praise to Allah.”

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Photo: Malcolm Shabazz


WHAT: Malcolm Shabazz Speaks about His Journey at Islam in America: Past, Present & Future

WHEN: Friday, July 2, at 6:30 p.m.

WHERE: Ershad Center, 6669 SW 59th Pl., South Miami

COST: Admission is free and open to the public