Initially, I was so devastated by the death of Betty Shabazz, I wanted nothing to do with Malcolm Shabazz. I am one who loved his grandmother, sometimes more than I loved my mother, so I could not fathom the idea of someone setting their grandmother's house on fire. Of course there are those who believe a more sinister force was at play, not the then 12 year old boy who was sent to his grandmother by his mother because she was allegedly out of control, suffering mental challenges and drug abuse, i.e., the dual diagnosed.
And then I heard he had come to Oakland under the guidance of a snake oil journalist named JR Valrey, sometimes known as a snitch but more often an opportunist and agent provocateur. JR had been a student of mine along with rapper Askari X, Ramal Lamar, Ptah Allah El and a few other young men I treated as my sons, especially since I'd lost one of my sons who took his life at 39 due to mental illness. I treated JR as my son and after he edited my video The Kings and Queens of Black Consciousness, rewarded him with a trip back east to a screening of the video documentary at the New York Independent Film Festival, September 8, 2001. Yes, from our hotel room in Newark, NJ, we saw the twin towers fall. On September 12, we attended the screening of my daughter's (Muhammida El Muhajir) film Hip Hop, The New World Order. And then after filming interviews on 9/11 with people we questioned for their view of 9/11, JR got the bright idea to keep the tapes as his personal property. After repeated attempts to receive a copy of the tapes was to no avail, I cut off my relationship with JR. People suggested I just take him out, but my feeling was that I am here to save youth, not kill them, so I stopped speaking to JR.
Soon I saw him traveling with Fred Hampton, Jr. I had a feeling the Chairman of POCC (Prisoners of Conscious Committee) was in trouble. JR became the Minister of Information. As Chairman Fred and I had a cordial relationship, I never said one negative word to him about JR, though I prayed he would not suffer the same fate of his father, Fred Hampton, Sr., i.e., set up by a snitch and killed by the Chicago police as part of Cointelpro.
After some time, a year or more, Fred Hampton called me, saying he needed to talk with me. By this time JR had ingratiated himself with Malcolm Shabazz and they, Fred Hampton, Jr. included, had embarked on a national and international tour. When I met with Fred at the Berkeley Flea Market, he began telling me things about JR--things that I already knew or suspected, i.e., that he was a rat and had been taking advantage of Fred and Malcolm. (See my interview with Fred Hampton, Jr. on this blog.) Fred said JR was no longer a member of POCC but continued calling himself the Minister of Information of POCC. After my interview with Fred, JR stopped calling himself Minister of Information of POCC.
My ultimate concern with JR was his association with the CEO of Your Black Muslim Bakery, Yusef Bey IV. JR called himself a friend of assassinated Oakland Post editor Chauncey Bailey. But the night before Bailey was assassinated, the Oakland police recorded three phone conversations between JR and Bey IV while the latter was parked in front of Bailey's house near Lake Merritt. I could not understand why a fellow journalist would not call his colleague to tell him a hit squad was outside his house, rather JR was talking with the killers who were untimely convicted of Bailey's murder.
And so my concern heightened about JR's association with "Little Malcolm". I still did not want to meet with him due to my own trauma over his grandparents. When the Fred Hampton, Jr. interview hit the internet, Malcolm wrote me on Facebook, asking why I said those things about him. I replied that I didn't say anything about him, I only repeated what Fred had said. This was the only time Malcolm and I communicated.
By the time his young life was ended in Mexico City, only then did I realize how much he was like my own son who had taken his life at 39. Abdul El Muhajir (Darrel P. Jackmon) graduated in Arabic and Middle Eastern Literature from University of California, Berkeley. (We learned "Little Malcolm" wanted to attend UCB.) My son had studied at the American University in Egypt and attended the University of Damascus, Syria on a Fulbright fellowship. He had traveled to Brazil, Japan, Africa and Europe, and did graduate work at Harvard. "Little Malcolm" had attempted to visit Iran, but the FBI stopped him as he boarded the plane. My son had studied and fallen in love with Persian literature and Farsi.
After learning that "Little Malcolm" was on journey similar to my son's (RIP), I changed my attitude toward him and realized he was a young man on a mission, trying to overcome many challenges. All this was brought out at his funeral in Oakland. The Imam's question at the funeral was thematic, Why are we here? Indeed, why had Malcolm come to live in Oakland. Of course Oakland is known throughout the world as a radical city. I put Oakland in the tradition of Fallujah, Iraq, a city of resistance that the USA leveled, just as the USA leveled the fighting spirit of Oakland, especially after the birth of the Black Panther Party. So Malcolm had come to join in that tradition, politically and spiritually (he studied under an Imam in Oakland, I think the one who preached his funeral).
Today he shall be buried in New York, near his grandparents. We still don't know all the facts about his murder in Mexico City. Was he lured there by a so called friend? Why would a friend take him to a known din of iniquity? During my second exile from America for refusing to fight in her imperialist war in Vietnam, I lived in Mexico City but never attended such low life bars, though I did visit the poor living in their mud floor homes.
We have yet to hear from the friend, so again, we only know that another young Black man has departed. As Dr. Nathan Hare said on the suicide of my son, "Homicide and suicide are two sides of the same coin." And mental illness, especially manic depression, originates in social oppression. At 29 and 39, "Little Malcolm" and Abdul accomplished a lot, both had done more traveling and study than most young Black men will ever do, so we thank Allah for the time we shared with them. And we pray "Little Malcolm" has found his way to Paradise. --Marvin X (El Muhajir) 5/21/13 Oakland