Malcolm X – 50 years on

I’m giving away ten copies of his autobiography to Commemorate 50 years since his passing,

I’ve often played with the idea of trying to write something about El Hajj Malik El Shabazz (more commonly known as Malcolm X). I wouldn’t know where to begin, where to end, which aspect to focus on. In my opinion any summary of his remarkable metamorphosis would be inadequate and his life must be studied through his own words to get the deepest understanding of the man and the legacy.

“The ability to read awoke inside of me some long dormant craving to be mentally alive.” Malcolm X

It’s been 50 years since Malcolm X was gunned down in the Audubon Ballroom in Manhattan. From downtrodden street hustling “Detroit Red” to a pivotal leader for change in a discriminating world his story is one of pain, politics and the pursuit of truth and freedom.

As part of the 50th year I’ve decided the best way I can commemorate is by gifting a copy of his autobiography to ten people who haven’t read it but would like to. If you are one of these people then get in touch and I’ll post a copy out to you.

There’s no strings attached but (if possible) I’d love to hear what you thought of the book and the man after you’ve read it.

I’ll leave you with one extract that always gives me goosebumps about the transformation of Malcolm X. As he looks out of the window at Harvard University preparing to deliver a speech he realises a building nearby is where he would hide out during his days as a burglar.

“I was the invited speaker at the Harvard Law School Forum. I happened to glance through a window. Abruptly, I realized that I was looking in the direction of the apartment house that was my old burglary gang’s hideout.

It rocked me like a tidal wave. Scenes from my once depraved life lashed through my mind. Living like an animal; thinking like an animal!

Awareness came surging up in me-how deeply the religion of Islam had reached down into the mud to lift me up, to save me from being what I inevitably would have been: a dead criminal in a grave, or, if still alive, a flint-hard, bitter, thirty-seven-year-old convict in some penitentiary, or insane asylum. Or, at best, I would have been an old, fading Detroit Red, hustling, stealing enough for food and narcotics, and myself being stalked as prey by cruelly ambitious younger
hustlers such as Detroit Red had been.

But Allah had blessed me to learn about the religion of Islam, which had enabled me to lift myself up from the muck and the mire of this rotting world.

And there I stood, the invited speaker, at Harvard.”


My Buzzfeed post “10 Times The Prophet Was Insulted And Persecuted And Reacted Like A True Gent”

Shocked and upset like anyone else seeing the events in Paris unfold over the past few days my first thoughts were with the family and friends of those killed. Reports suggest the murders shouted something about avenging the Prophet. Huh? *scratches head*. How on earth are these nutcases trying to justify this Islamically?

No really, how? I’ve grown up as a Muslim in Britain, went to Saturday Islamic classes (OK admittedly I loved the football at break-times but still counts right?), attended lectures at mosque and I can’t remember a single story, parable or mention of the Prophet ever reacting in a violent way when insulted. Not one.

After getting in touch with some friends and asking them I got a flurry of messages and links to stories demonstrating how the Prophet himself reacted to ridicule and persecution throughout his life.

My buzzfeed piece aims to give a 5 min read and 10 examples of the Prophet Muhammad’s mannerisms.

That photo of Jack Wilshere and how Moore’s law is substituting my expensive camera

So I went to see Arsenal play at the Emirates this weekend and ended up having a photo I took go absolutely crazy on the internet.

Over 5 years of random tiring photography jobs over weekends and evenings to pay my way up from a standard point and shoot camera to my current £2k Canon setup and it was a photo I took from my iPhone 4s that made its way into the papers.

It wasn’t till a friend and fellow gooner, @maxwellcoop who knows a thing or two about PR saw the photo and tweeted it out to some Arsenal bloggers that the real madness began. Within a few hours it was trending under #Wilshere with thousands of tweets and more people using the image on Twitter and Facebook.

Pretty soon the papers came calling and the next thing I knew I woke up this morning with a big print in The Times and features on Daily Mail Online, SkySports FanZone, and BBC 606’s newsletter.

The photo I took of Jack Wilshere reproduced in The Times

Technology is outstripping Moore’s Law and is driving game changing innovation in digital and social spheres. The experience has been a reminder of how much my world has changed since I truly got the digital buzz during my Masters in Design at Brunel. Working on starting with FutureGov put me in the environment with great creative minds using digital and design to address social issues.

In a talk by IDEO’s Tom Hulme he mentions that the first iPhone 3 has more computing power than the entire NASA setup who put the first man on the moon! With more powerful cameras and sensors being built in to smartphones and new ways of hacking things to fit you (hello Sugru) I wonder how long until my SLR is always second choice.

In my opinion photography isn’t always about technicalities and settings, it’s just about capturing a moment with what you have and sharing it. I finally have a case study to prove that sometimes the best camera is the one you have on you.