San Diego City College Council meeting defers to alum’s first-hand account

Malcolme Muttaqee’s candid personal story inaugurates 2021-22 cycle of College Council meetings

Malcolme Muttaqee in City College graduation robes.

Malcolme Muttaqee shares a photo of himself in City College graduation robes. Zoom screenshot

Philip Salata, Multimedia Journalist

Moved to tears, Josolyn Hill thanked alum Malcolme Muttaqee for his account of his path to San Diego City College and his recent travel to Africa as a part of a community college-wide cultural excursion for Black male students. 

As a mother of two Black sons, the City Counseling and Personal Growth Department supervisor was awed by Muttaqee’s inspirational narrative, which included reflections on the trip organized by the African American Male Education Network and Development (A2MEND).

Muttaqee’s personal story, a candid window into his experience as a Black Muslim man growing up in San Diego, brought life to an otherwise routine College Council meeting held concurrently with the California gubernatorial recall election on September 14. 

Prefaced by the image of standing on the shores of Ghana — looking out on what Muttaqee imagined was for many enslaved Black people the last view of their land — his presentation culminated with a song he wrote and performed alongside a music video he made.

“What happened?” Muttaqee sang.

Muttaqee displayed a graphic that made it wrenchingly clear how race, class and gender marked his story. 

The graphic showed a timeline equally balanced between two institutions.

Thirteen years in school. Thirteen years in prison.

“I can’t talk about my life in America without talking about the Black experience,” Muttaqee said. 

As impactful as these facts were, Muttaqee moved deftly to then describe how he matched his drive to build his career with the resources of City College.

“Hard work and network,” said Muttaqee as the next graphic appeared, which featured a picture of him in City College graduation robes and a list of organizations including Umoja, Hermanos Unidos Brothers United, A2MEND and City Scholars.

Still, Muttaqee, who is now finishing his B.A. in Religious Studies at San Diego State University, drew comparisons between his experiences of race in the U.S. versus Africa, where he would not be singled out for the color of his skin.

As a teenager in the U.S., on the other hand, he said he received a strike on his record for a minor offense  — stealing candy — which brought him one step deeper into the systematized induction of young Black men into the prison system.

According to the San Diego County government website, a strike is issued for a violent or serious felony. The three strikes law increases the severity of punishment for convicted persons, regardless of the severity of accrued strikes.

For City College President Ricky Shabazz, Muttaqee’s story underlines the importance of the development programs City College seeks to continue growing.

Shabazz was recently selected as one of 25 leaders for the 2021-22 class of the Aspen New Presidents Fellowship, a program designed to support community college presidents through the early phase of their tenures.

Sponsored by JPMorgan Chase, the Aspen College Excellence Program finances residential and virtual learning sessions in order to assist presidents in developing programs and strategies to meet their goals for achieving student success.

A calendar of upcoming opportunities for professional learning activities at City College can be found on the Professional Development webpage.

Independent Learning Center faculty member Don Long also gave an overview of professional development programming, including the rollout of the New Hires Institute, “a year-long, equity centered onboarding program designed to welcome new employees,” according to the program website. Its rollout should occur in the next month.

Among other initiatives to watch over the coming months are the drafting of Land Acknowledgement to the Kumeyaay Nation, a process being undertaken in collaboration with SDSU and UC San Diego.