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by Rodney O. Lain

Making the Pilgrimage to Mecca (Cupertino)
January 5th, 2000

If in Mecca he had decided that blacks and whites can unite, then his life at that moment would have become meaningless...

-- Albert Cleage, in a writing about Malcolm X


I know you probably don't care about black American history, but I want to mention it anyway.

Lately, I've been reading two books in an attempt to juxtapose the lives of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr., the quintessential embodiments of the 1960s Civil Rights movement's yin and yang - if there ever were.

I'd been particularly interested in the latter years of Malcolm Little, aka Malcolm X. This isn't really an odd interest, since I liken myself to Malcolm this time of the year.

Like Malcolm, I'm about to make a pilgrimage to Mecca. In case you don't know, Malcolm X had a life-changing experience when he made a trek to his holy land of Islam near the end of his short life. He entered Mecca as Malcolm X, the black racist, who vowed to fight for black rights by "any means necessary"; he returned with a changed name and a changed outlook on life.

There, he met Islamic adherents from around the world, shattering his narrow-minded belief that the true religion is a black man's religion. He discovered that any religion worth its salt will be an inclusive religion, truly colorblind.

In a way, I am the same. The few people I really get to talk about Macintosh religion about are "brothas" (okay, Juan, you're "the Spaniard" of the group, but that's still a culture of a darker hue), so it will be a real treat for me to hang around Mac users outside my normal circle. My pilgrimage to Mecca -- via San Francisco -- will afford me the opportunity to "practice my religion" away from the unwashed heathen.

But this will be different.

I think I will be looking at the Macworld Expo as a Mac user who also exists among the Windows of the world. I think -- God, forbid -- I will be looking for more solutions, software and/or hardware, that will allow me to seek peaceful coexistence between my G4 and my PIII, between my Apple Cube and my PC box, between my Mac OS and my NT, between Unix and DOS.

It'll be interesting to see how many traditionally PC vendors will be sharing floor space with the traditionally Mac vendors. I could be wrong, but I think it will be an interesting conference this year. After all, Apple is becoming, more and more, an average, a (dare I say it?) respectable company in the public's eye. Dammit.

The holy land, it is a' changin'. Verily, verily.

Maybe I won't be the only one going through a Malcolm X experience.

And I hope we Mac Observites will be able to bring some "Johnny-on-the-spot" reportage to those of you who aren't fortunate enough to make it out to the Left Coast this year.

In addition to the products surely to be introduced, I hope we can keep some of that religious awe that most of us had when we first went to this Expo (within the ranks of us web journalists, many of us were sorely disillusioned by the commercialism of the whole affair, much like the way that fundamentalist Christians bemoan the commercialism of Xmas).

But, I hope to avoid that mood this year with a solitary pilgrimage to Mecca to refresh my spiritual resevoirs.

That's right, folks. I hope to hit the ground running towards Cupertino. If you happen to be on campus the same day that I make it, I hope you'll stop and say "hi."

I'll be the guy in the Aqua "X" T-shirt, arms splayed in front of me, bowing and scraping towards Steve Jobs' office.

Your comments are welcomed.

Rodney O. Lain is a junior manager at a major corporation. He enjoys public speaking, mentoring minority college students, and helping community multicultural-awareness efforts. He also "preaches the Gospel" at a Minneapolis Micro Center -- he's the bald black guy. Rodney "drives" a G4 Cube and a PowerBook G3. After enjoying a popular run at Mac, "iBrotha" was axed, to readers' dismay. Back by popular demand, it now runs exclusively at Mac Observer every other Friday, replacing "Rodney's Soapbox."

[Editor's Note: Rodney O.Lain passed away in June, 2002.]

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