After a troubled youth, Malcolm Shabazz seeks to follow in the footsteps of his grandfather, Malcolm X
Once he returned to the United States, Shabazz decided to follow his grandfather's footsteps and make the pilgrimage to Mecca, where, he said "the air felt different." But he also explained how the people he saw on the pilgrimage seemed less willing to impose their rules on Americans.
"It seems like they have more fear [of] Americans than they do for Allah," he said. "If they know you're American, I don't know what it is, but they leave you alone."
Shabazz said he had the experience of a lifetime and proved his intense vigor for the Islamic faith. He circled the Kaa'ba, and despite swollen feet and a bad case of the flu, carried on his pilgrimage like a true believer. "I never saw this many people at one place at one time. It was much more of a struggle than I had anticipated," he said. "But everything was earned."
Decades before, his grandfather Malcolm X made his mark on American culture, taking a radical approach to demanding equal rights. When asked if his grandfather would admire President Barack Obama if he were alive today, Shabazz replied, "Definitely not. To me, Obama is no different than [George W.] Bush."
He said that democracy in this country is a sham, an illusion effectively perpetuated by the ruling elite. "The U.S. is a land of smoke and mirrors, and they're the best at doing what they do," he said. "My grandfather? Hah. He wouldn't have supported any of those dudes."
Although Shabazz doesn't particularly admire Obama so far, he does hope that the election of the first African-American president will "boost the esteem of the young black youth." And he said that the messages of Malcolm X are more important today than ever.
"My grandfather once stated that there are only two types of power that are respected within the United States of America — economic power and political power — and he went on to explain how social power derives from these two. Unfortunately, the majority of the people [today] are economically illiterate and politically naive. They believe most of what they see on television and read in the papers. I say believe half of what you see, and none of what you hear."
For his own personal politics, Shabazz said change begins with education and unity. "[Education] could be done through music, spoken word poetry, art, preaching from the pulpit, or putting in physical work right in the trenches," Shabazz said.
In terms of unity, he cited the European Union, explaining that it is an organization "where nations that don't necessarily like each other [but] have at least enough common sense to come together for a cause, to achieve a common goal, or to stand up against a common enemy. When it's time to put niggers in check, they know how to come together."
Almost 10 years after the 9/11 attacks, Shabazz sees growing potential for Islam to exert an influence in the U.S. "After 9/11, a lot of people did not know too much [about Islam]. But they started to investigate and learn more."
Although many people's first reaction was to turn away from the religion of jihad, Shabazz feels that many people also felt the need to educate themselves on the matter — and found that there is much more to Islam than the mainstream media portrays. And for a young man who has already led a turbulent life, Shabazz is seeking something basic from his newfound faith: "I want a peace of mind."