Your attitude is the fuel to keep yourself driving forward in the roles you play. Today, our guest is an attorney, journalist, comedian, teacher, political writer, political radio, and political TV commentator. Abdul-Hakim Shabazz, a mayoral candidate for Indianapolis, shares his insights on the attitude it takes to play different roles in his life. As an interviewer, his flexibility and listening skills are crucial to becoming an excellent reporter. He also shares his attitude toward public safety, work, and trust as a mayoral candidate in Indianapolis. Tune in to his episode to hear more from Abdul-Hakim Shabazz.
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The Attitude It Takes On The Different Roles You Play With Abdul-Hakim Shabazz
In this episode, we have a very special guest with us. It’s somebody with about as many titles as myself. He is a person that is a constant giver. He is a mayoral candidate here in Indianapolis. He is also an attorney and a college instructor. He’s a political writer and a radio talk show host. Ladies and gentlemen, we want to welcome Abdul-Hakim Shabazz to the show.
Thank you. Every time I hear my introduction, all my titles are getting more and more tired.
I don’t doubt that. I need your energy because we got some people going on. Out of all of those things we talked about, I’m curious, which one do you enjoy the most?
It’s like asking which is your favorite child. You love them all equally but for different reasons. My lawyer job is my responsible child. My political commentator job is my attitude, mouthy child. My college professor’s job is my middle child. You love them all differently except for the youngest one. You love him but you can’t stand him because it reminds you of you when you were a child.
When we talk about being a child, I’d love to know what is your definition of attitude. Whom would you say had the biggest influence on your attitude?
I would say both of my parents. They both have very positive attitudes toward everything. What’s interesting is that my mother always said that everything happens for a reason, whether it’s good or bad. Be smart enough or patient enough and you’ll figure out exactly what it is. She’s right because as I jokingly say, “Had my ex-girlfriend not broken up with me, I’d never met my wife.”Check out the LATEST episode of the Get Attitude Podcast with @GlennJbill and guest @AttyAbdul hosted by @JasonAaronPro Click To Tweet
Tell us about your father’s influence on your attitude.
I was my father’s oldest male child. My father was a big believer in education. He says, “I can give you $25,000. You can buy a car or pay for your education. Which would you do?” “I can take the education, dad.” He’s like, “Why?” “It’s because you can’t take that away. The car is going to eventually break down. You’ve got to get another one.” He is like, “Exactly.” My parents were big believers in education in our household growing up.
What were their professions?
My father was an accountant. My mother was a caterer.
Did you grow up here in Indianapolis?
I grew up in Chicago. I’ve lived here twice. My first tour of duty was from 1990 to 1993 because we lived in Europe for a while. My dad was in the military. We went to Europe. We went to West and East Germany, and then came back here in 1990. My grandmother lived in Champaign. She was ill at the time. My mom wanted to be close to her. We are supposed to live in Pennsylvania somewhere. We lived in Indianapolis. I also went to college at Northern Illinois University.
I did that for a couple of years. I went to work in Bloomington, Illinois as a radio reporter for a while at WJBC Radio, which is 140 miles up the interstate from WIBC Radio. I did that for a couple of years and went to graduate school at the University of Illinois. I got my Master’s in Government and Public Affairs. While doing that, I worked for a radio station called WMAY Radio.
I was a political reporter covering the state house and state capitol. After doing that, I went to work for an Illinois attorney general as one of his media people. While working for him in Springfield, I went to law school in St. Louis. I went part-time 3 to 4 nights a week for three and a half years. I drove 100 miles each way back and forth for three and a half years.
That takes some attitude to do that.
This is a perfect story. One time, my wife and I were in Springfield visiting friends of mine. That afternoon, we ran down to St. Louis to go visit some law school friends. We’re about halfway Exit 52 in the road and she’s like, “You used to do this every day?” I’m like, “Yes, 3 or 4 days a week.” After working all day, at 3:30, I get in the car and drove to law school until 8:00, 9:00, or 10:00. I drove back and went to bed. I do the same thing all over again. That’s why I don’t accept excuses for bad behavior.Don't accept excuses for bad behavior. Click To Tweet
Also, for tardiness. How do you treat students that enter your room tardy?
Here’s what I tell my students. I treat them as adults. That’s point number one. People accuse kids of being snowflakes. You could call them snowflakes, but we never had to deal with going to school and getting shot. They have a whole different set of dangers that we never had to deal with. I keep that in mind.
I tell my students, “You guys are adults. I’m going to treat you like adults. We’re going to try to make the class as fun and as interesting as humanly possible because I want you to come and not miss class, but if you have to miss class, I want you to treat me like your job. Call me and let me know that you’re not going to be here or you’re running late.” The reason why I did that is that I said, “You wouldn’t go to dinner like Hyde Park Steakhouse, order $200 worth of food, not eat it, get up, and leave.” If you do that for dinner, why in the name of God would you do that for your education? We’ve got a lot going on here.
What do you teach?
I teach Business Law and Mass Media at the University of Indianapolis. I also teach Political Science on occasion. I teach Speech at Ivy Tech.
Ivy Tech’s blowing up. That’s an incredible institution on what’s going on there. Let’s hit on that real quick. You’re at UIndy, which is also blowing up in doing some fantastic things. What’s your sense of why Ivy Tech has been claiming such a growth so much more in attendance and enrollment?
People realize that you need a post-secondary education. You need something. A high school diploma isn’t going to cut it anymore. Does this necessarily mean you have to have a four-year degree or an Associate’s degree? It can be a certificate or something along those lines. Ivy Tech does a good job. We have this debate in this country about free college, and Ivy Tech is practically free to the students. You can get your tuition waived. You can also get your books pretty much-taken care of as well. Ivy Tech has a good program. I’ve been teaching here for several years.
You saw it from what it was and what it is. To me, it’s night and day. It’s phenomenal. Let’s go back to your attitude coaches and attitude influences. I always believe that attitude doesn’t skip a generation, but it can be found in the generation even before your parents. I’m wondering if you knew your grandparents ever or if you knew their story, who were they, and what influence did the grandparents have on your attitude?
I knew my grandmother relatively well. My grandfather died when I was a little kid. My other grandparents passed away when I was 3 to 5 years old. I didn’t know them as much as humanly possible. However, my grandmother drank whiskey and smoked cigars. She would curse like a sailor, and that I loved about that woman.
I know you smoke a cigar and you don’t mind hitting a whiskey as well.
I got it from her.
Where did she come from? What was her story? Did she work or raise the family? Was there anything besides her smoking cigars and drinking whiskey that stuck with you?
She grew up in Champaign, Illinois. She worked at the University of Illinois in the food service catering business. I remember my parents telling me exactly what she did and that I have no idea. She had four children. My mom had 1 sister and 2 brothers. My uncle is the only surviving one because mom and uncles have passed away and moved on. It was a typical 1950s family essential with all the issues, all the good stuff, and some of the not-so-good stuff that came along with all that.
Let’s go back to you driving three hours. It’s like, “I walked in the snow for 2 miles to school.” What do you think drove you to do that? Why wouldn’t you go to law school locally?
There was no law school locally in Springfield, Illinois at the time. There was one at the University of Illinois but they didn’t have a part-time program because originally, I was going to go full-time and get my Law degree done. However, my boss who was the attorney general at the time was like, “Why don’t you stick around and go part-time? We’ll adjust your schedule. Tell your boss I said it’s okay. Whatever you need to do, you can get it done.”
Did you ever find yourself saying, “I don’t think I want to do this?” Did you ever have doubt that you said, “This is too hard, I’m not going to make this happen?” If you did, how did you reprogram yourself?”
It’s not hard but it’s like, “Really? I’ve got to go to school now.”
Did you do that for three years?
Three and a half years for 3 to 4 nights a week.
Did you play sports as a young man?
I didn’t play sports.
Did you study all the time?
Pretty much. My brothers got all the athletic ability. I got the brains and good looks.
David played football if I remember. How many brothers have you got?
I have 4 brothers and 7 older sisters.
You are one of twelve. What number are you?
It’s his, hers, and ours. I am technically number 8 of ours but number 1 of my mom and dad.
What was that like? Did you ever have all twelve in the house or was that a moving number?
It was a moving number. My sisters always lived with their other custodial parents. We always lived at home. We have a big house in Chicago but it wasn’t big back then with all those people there. We have one bathroom.
Are your four brothers all full biological brothers?
All biological and all younger than me.
Did you beat them up? What was the relationship there?
I was in charge.
What did your younger brothers teach you, if anything?
My brother’s got all the mechanical ability. I cannot fix a thing, and I do not apologize for it. The most I can do is take a hammer and a nail, and put my picture up on the wall but that’s about it. All my other brothers have all the athletic and mechanical abilities.
Before you were an attorney, I guess you were a student, but did you have a job in between there that taught you anything about attitude?
In college, I worked in the school’s computer lab because I need a place to get my homework done. It was before the time that everybody had a laptop or a desktop. This was the late ’80s or early ’90s. You go to the computer lab to get your work done. It was interesting because I learned not to procrastinate. You’ve got to get work done before it’s due. If you’re waiting until the last minute, it’s going to be too late.
I want to go into the difference between teaching now because you’ve been teaching for several years. Do you feel that students are different? Are people different? Are students different? Have you changed how you teach?
Fundamentally, students are students. Students in 2023 are students in 2003, students in 1993 and students in 1983. I had to laugh and chuckle that we complained about young people now. All people who complain about young people now are what people in our age group or people in our parents’ age group complain about. My great-grandfather would complain about my grandfather’s zoot suit with the big, white brim hat, the long coat, and the chain thing that he swirled around back in 1920 or something. My grandfather would complain about my dad, “These young people are lazy with no work ethic.”
People are always going to complain about the next generation that’s coming up. My thing is I’ve always treated my students like adults and said, “You are grownups here. I’m not going to tell you what to do. I don’t take attendance. Your attendance is how you perform on the tests because there’s going to be stuff we’re going to talk about in class.”
You tell them that you’re not taking attendance upfront.
I tell them but I warn them that although I don’t take attendance, there is going to be stuff we talk about in class that’s not in the textbook so it behooves you to be here. We reward those who show up and participate.
Tell me about being an on-the-beat reporter. You did TV and radio. Number one, I’d love to know who is the most famous person you’ve interviewed or got to meet. What did you learn from them? What is the attitude it takes to be somebody that’s in the role of an interviewer?
The most famous person I’ve ever interviewed was Barack Obama when he was a state senator. I covered the Illinois General Assembly, and he was a state senator. At the time, I was in his office. I asked him about something and he started to light up a cigarette because back then, you could smoke in your offices. I looked at him and he was like, “Is something wrong, Abdul?” “You’re smoking a cigarette. I know you could smoke.” “You can.” “I wish you had a cigar.” He’s like, “I do. Here you go.” “Thank you, Mr. State Senator. I appreciate that.”
Barack Obama gave you a cigar. Did you smoke it?
Late that night but not in the building.
Did you interview him?
Yeah. I can’t remember, but it was on some blood station. He put this routine.
It was a routine interview. What do you think it takes to be a good interviewer?
It’s knowing how to listen and be flexible. You got to listen to the response that people give you. Even though you may have a list of prepared questions, somebody could bring something up like, “That’s an interesting question. I’m going to go down that road,” and then come back to where you started. I say being prepared but also being flexible is crucial to being a good reporter.An excellent interviewer knows how to listen and how to be flexible. You need to listen to the response that people give you. Click To Tweet
As you can see, I don’t have any canned questions here. I just go with it and that’s the way I like to do it. People often say, “Do you have canned questions?” I’m like, “No. We converse.”
It’s the same with a talk to your host.
You had your talk show on WIBC.
WIBC Radio for 10 years and then before that, another 8 years at WXNT Radio 1430 AM.
I had a little bit of a stint on there too. When WIBC shut down, did it break your heart like it did mine or were you good?
I always realized on radio that there’s always a day you can walk in. One day, you’re a talk show host, next you’re Abdul the Urban Cowboy because your format has been changed. I always knew that was a possibility going in.
When you had your show at 1070, what did that focus on? Was it politics?
Mostly state and local politics.
Who was your toughest interview whether there or XNT or even back in Illinois? Did you ever have anybody tough on you, that was hard and that you never forget that taught you something?
Not so much tough as far as interviews go but some guests were more challenging to deal with than other guests. People don’t know how to listen and wouldn’t necessarily listen. The toughest guest I ever had was my mother on my radio show. This was back in Springfield when we were talking about breastfeeding in public. My mom and I were talking on the phone that day. I’m like, “I can’t believe people are breastfeeding.” “It’s natural.” “Mom, can you be a guest on my radio show tomorrow?” She is like, “Sure.”
I brought my mom on. “We’re talking about breastfeeding in public so we have a guest. My mother breastfed all her children.” We were having a discussion and I forgot I was interviewing my mother. I started treating her like a regular guest. I was saying things. She was like, “Abdul, you need to listen.” “Yes, ma’am,” and that shut everything down. All my buddies in the back were like, “Yes. Thank you. How can we do that?” “She gave birth to me and almost died in the process. Thank you very much.”
I used to read a lot of your articles in IBJ and a lot of people would go, “How in the world do you write that much so consistently?” You’ve probably gotten this before. It took me 48 years to write a book and everybody says they’re going to write a book. Everybody says they want to be a writer but being a writer is very challenging.
I don’t think writers get a lot of credit to be honest with you. I’d love to get your perspective on what’s the attitude of a writer. How did you produce so much written content? For any writer out there or any who wants to be a writer, what’s your advice about becoming a columnist, a journalist or a writer?
I’d say write about what you like and what you know because if you write about what you don’t know doesn’t do any good and writing about what you don’t like, doesn’t make any sense whatsoever. Always keep your eye open for ideas. I used to keep a notepad by my bed. In case I got an idea, I wrote it down. Now, I keep my telephone and a text message or talk into it. Always look out for different things to write and talk about. It’s things that are interesting.
For example, one time my wife and I were in a Chinese restaurant. We got into an argument over whether we should tip because it’s all a buffet and they bring you a new plate but that’s all they do. We got into a debate discussion over whether you should tip in a Chinese restaurant. That took a whole three hours on the radio show because it was interesting and everybody had an opinion.
What about the craft of writing? Did you sit down and write all of those articles? Were they transcribed from a radio show and you morphed them into an article?
No, I wrote everything. What I would do is I’ll take a radio show topic. I’m like, “I want to go into this in a little bit more detail,” and then I’ll use that as a column. Everything’s interjected and hooked together.
When you talk about all the things you’ve written, did you ever have an award-winning article? Did you have an article or a column that got the national press?
My blog Indy Politics in the Indiana Barrister has gotten a couple of awards from the Washington Post. I also got a couple of awards from the Society for Professional Journalists of Indiana.
What were those articles about?
I can’t remember to save my life but they were good though. I know that.
When we talk about writing and doing a show on what you like, politics is something that you like. Whom would you say was your favorite politician that you’ve followed?
Mitch Daniels and Greg Ballard.
Mitch and Greg did a lot of great stuff. Was there somebody prior to them that you liked to follow?
There was a guy named Jim Ryan. He was the former Illinois Attorney General. He was a good guy and sharp. He was like my dad.
I’m guessing you probably got to know Mitch a little bit through what you did and Greg Ballard as well. Give me their attitudes related to politics or their attitudes in general.
They were always positive and always trying to move the city and the state forward. They are not getting stuck on divisive social issue stuff, which I respect with Mitch Daniels and Greg Ballard. “What has this got to do with fixing the roads, fixing the sewers or replacing sidewalks?” “Nothing.” “Why are we talking about it?” I was like, “Thank you. I appreciate that.”
As you embark on this new thing called politics, have you ever been an elected official before?
I worked for elected officials but have never been an elected official.
I’m guessing you work for Greg and Mitch.
No. I didn’t work for either one. I worked for Jim Ryan.
You got one year to go before the primary.
The primary is in less than 60 days. May 2nd is the primary and then November 3rd or 4th is the general election.
Is this the general election of ’23?
I didn’t know that. You got 60 days to go in for the primary. What is the attitude, slogan or mission for you to communicate?
It’s public safety, public works and public trust. Those are our three key points. We got to get crime under control in the city by being tough but also smart on crime because you can’t lock everybody up. That’s impossible and also ridiculous. It is expensive but I always say there’s a difference between people we’re mad at versus people we’re afraid of. If we deal with them accordingly, we can get our crime problem under control.
Also, with public works, we got to come up with creative ways to get our streets fixed because what we’re doing isn’t working. One of the things that I’ve talked about doing is it is almost creating a road TIF-type district where you take money from a gas station around the corner, let’s say. We draw a mile square and take $0.01 from either the gas tax or the sales tax on gasoline. Use that for roads, sidewalks and potholes in that area.
In that way, you have a dedicated source of funding within 1 mile of that gas station to take care of your roads, bridges and sewers. Whether it’s going to be a tax increase or somebody from the state, it’s a good debate and discussion to have but we need to come up with creative ways to fix and solve our city’s problems. With public trust, trust the government to leave you alone. There’s a novel concept. They let you live your life.
Public safety is a hotbed, hot flash and an easy way to get pulled in several directions on that. What’s your strategy and message? We have a lot of angst between the public and the police. What’s your thought on how to heal that divide? What’s the conversation need to be?
First of all, that defund the police nonsense is not going to happen. If anybody is thinking about defunding the police, forget about it. It’s not happening here. Maybe go talk to one of the other candidates. Building trust is about building relationships. It’s making sure that police are out of the vehicles talking to people regularly but also neighborhood folks knowing, “We have a responsibility as well too.” I argue that public safety is a right. You have a right to be safe in your home.Building trust is about building relationships. Click To Tweet
People like your parents or my parents shouldn’t have to be afraid to leave their house because they’re worried that some knucklehead is going to fire a gun or shoot at them or something. Someone shouldn’t be afraid to set their eight-year-old down in the living room and play a video game and worry about a bullet coming through. My thing is these bad guys want to take each other out. Go ahead, fine but leave innocent people alone.
When it comes down to messaging like the other side, this happens in many local markets. We’re leaning toward Indianapolis. There is a path to victory that we’ve spoken about. How do you get Democrats to buy into you?
You talk to independents and thoughtful Democrats who are also tired of the City of Indianapolis and how things are going. I argue that 20% of the voting population will always vote Democratic and another 20% will always vote Republican. Those are the extremes on both sides. I need to go for the middle. When we poll back in December of 2022, only 24% of the public thinks the city is on the right track. Only 1/3 think the mayor should go for a 3rd term and only 40% say they’d vote for him in a Democratic primary.
That tells me, along with crime as well as with property tax bills that are coming, that there are some vulnerabilities out there and there’s a path to victory. It’s not a big path. Here’s an example I use. When Greg Ballard decided to run for mayor back in 2007, he called me after I got off the radio at WXNT Radio. He’s like, “Abdul, have you got time for lunch?” I was like, “I don’t have time for lunch but I can meet you for breakfast tomorrow.” We met at the Panera Bread at 86th and Ditch Road.
He’s like, “I think about running for mayor.” I was like, “Of what?” “Indianapolis.” “Indiana?” “Yeah.” “Bart Peterson is mayor.” “Bart Peterson’s got $3 million in the bank and a 60% approval rating. What do you think?” “It’s not impossible. Anything can happen but let me tell you this, Greg. Have you ever seen Star Wars?” “Yeah.”
“Do you remember that scene at the end of the movie when Luke Skywalker finds out the Death Star Canyon and Darth Vader and the two TIE fighters are chasing and about to hit him? Han Solo comes out and hits the TIE fighter?” “Yeah.” “Your Luke Skywalker and Han Solo took the money and left to go to go pay Jabba the Hutt. It’s just you. You got one shot so you better make it count,” and he got it twice.
As I remember it, that’s when the property tax system went into a total spiral. Steve Goldsmith’s daughter and my daughter were down at the Athenaeum doing gymnastics. I said, “Steve, whatever you do, make sure property taxes are under control,” and then that thing hit under Peterson but property taxes are so important. With what happened in the real estate market, which I know very well, the prices are up and the 1% cap is going to hurt people. It’s going to be interesting. What’s the solution there on property taxes, if any?
Part of it is we have a market-driven system. When the market is hot, the prices go up. When the markets go down, the prices go down. What we need to do is maybe look at putting a cap on assessments. Maybe 10% for an owner-occupied home or something along those lines so people don’t have to worry about losing their home because they can’t afford to pay taxes. Unfortunately, if you end up in a situation like that, you only get two types of people left in your city, the people who can’t afford to stay and the people who can’t afford to leave. That’s not good for anybody. Ask Chicago and Detroit.
I drove by and I won’t mention what part of town. I looked at 241 apartment units that are trashed. You talk about poverty. I’m going to give you three questions. Hopefully, you can remember them all. Number one, the 3% commercial tax rate is killing and building small business owners in property tax, people that want to buy their building and run their business out of it. I’m sure a lot of Republicans voted for it because it was about the homeowners. It’s very tough to run a business and own your building with 3%. It’s not easy to do at all. When you look at flipping or turning neighborhoods or reinvesting, what are your thoughts on the best way to go about that?
I have an issue not so much with out-of-town people buying an Indianapolis property because, with property, you can do whatever you want with it. What I do have an issue with is when folks buy the property and don’t keep it up. We got to then go track them down, find them and go through all the processes to get the home in repair.
It’s probably getting in trouble with some of my real estate friends but I do think what we ought to do, particularly for absentee out-of-state landlords, is spice up and beef up our eminent domain procedures. An abandoned property only hurts the neighborhood and all the other homes around it. Why would we want to live next door to an abandoned home?
The thought is how do you bring neighborhoods back? How do you help people that are in poverty? I believe 1 of your 3 missions was people. What’s your feel on Indianapolis’s poverty and homelessness? What do you think is an intelligent way to help?
One way to help people get out of poverty is to give them the tools that they need to escape poverty. The Brooks Institute does the story and the story pops up every year. If you finish school, wait until you’re getting married to have children and get a job. Your chance of being in poverty drops to 80%. It’s not a hard formula. We only need to throw that formula into the heads of our younger people. It’s like, “Here’s why you need a degree, a certificate or something. Here’s why you need to wait until you’re married to have children.”
I’m not trying to tell you what to do with your reproductive organs. I’m not that kind of person but from a practical perspective, this is probably an easier thing for you to do. Jobs are plentiful. We just don’t have the skillset to get the jobs. This ties into my public safety platform. If you are on probation and you’re a non-violent offender, here’s what we’re going to do. Instead of sending you to jail, what we’re going to do is send you to a school like Ivy Tech because number one, it’s cheaper.
It’s funny because my wife asked me, “How are you going to give people free education?” I’m like, “Not at all.” When you went to the University of Indianapolis, if you missed school, you just missed school. If these guys miss school, they violate their probation. They’re going to jail. FYI on that. Once you get your degree, then we expunge your record.
The smarter public that we can have, the better off we are all going to be. There’s no doubt about that.
Also, the city’s always going to have a certain amount of issues such as crime or road issues because that’s life in the city. I chose to live in the city because I like city life. My friends chose to live in the suburbs and other friends live in the country. We all have our different preferences, which is fine but I do think that Indianapolis can do much better than it’s doing.
What’s the biggest hurdle you’re going to face to become the next mayor of Indianapolis?
I’m running as a Republican. Indianapolis leans Democratic. You always got that 60/40 split but I do think that we can get our message out. We don’t need to raise as much money as a mayor. You just got to raise enough money to be competitive. If anybody doesn’t think the little guy can beat the big guy, I will remind you of the Americans fighting the British soldiers during the Revolutionary War and Viet Cong fighting the US Army back in the 1960s. These are the two most powerful armies on the face of the planet and guys are hanging out in trees and jungles. If you think money will solve all the issues, I’ll remind you to look at Willie Wilson who ran for mayor of Chicago. He was a millionaire who came in fifth place.
What’d you think of Mayor Lightfoot?
I liked her. She reminded me of my mother, sort of no-nonsense.
She was doing her thing.
However, that was a bit of a problem in Chicago because politics go along with it.
What was the toughest thing that you’ve ever had to overcome in your life?
I would say moving to Europe. I just turned seventeen years old. I just graduated from high school. We were there for two weeks and it was time for me to go to college. My dad gave me two suitcases with even a heavy typewriter. He put me on a train and gave me $200. “Son, I love you but I got to take care of your mom and your brother. Call me when you get there.”
Did you go to Europe alone?
No. We were all in Europe together. We were in Kaiserslautern in Germany, which is the Southwest portion of Germany. I went to college in Munich, which is the Southeast corner.
You knew no one. You’re in Germany and you had to survive. How did you survive?
I had no choice. I had to.
Did you have a strategy or did you just have the right attitude?
Just do it.
Did you learn German?
I learned enough to not get ripped off by a cab driver but ironically, I took three years of French in high school before moving to Germany.
What’s the biggest challenge Indianapolis faces as a city?
Part of it is crime and a general malaise that seems to be over the city. It’s going into your attitude.
We’re a status quo.
It’s not so much even status quo. People are just like, “Whatever.” It’s like, “No. You should be happy about where you live.” You should be excited about where you live. You want your kids to live where you live as well. To me, people need hope. Also, to feel better about where they are, where they live and what’s their station line.
If you get elected and you look at our city in four years, what does it look like to you? What would be measurables that you look back and go, “I can’t believe we did it?”
If I get elected, the first thing I’m going to do is ask for a recount. That’s the first order of business. “Are you guys sure about this?”
I’m sure it’s going to get asked for anyway.
“Are you sure this is the right thing to do because my wife wants to make sure we got one too?” My wife has been awesome at all this. She has not been a fan of politics per se but she gives me my space to do whatever it is I need to do. With that, I’ll love her to death and appreciate her. I would say, the first four years are to get things back on track as to where they were before the pandemic, the George Floyd riot and the crimes got out of control so get things back to normal. The second four years are trying to the next big thing.
How do you plan to cooperate and/or influence the heavily loaded city council that you’re going to be dealing with?
“Gentlemen, we’re all here for the city.” There’s no Republican or Democrat way to run the city. You either know what you’re doing or you don’t. Vop Osili, the City Council President, and I have a good relationship. We’ve known each other for years. I said, “Vop, if I’m mayor and you’re city council president, let’s do what Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neill used to do. Let’s get in the back and have a beer, a cigar or dinner. Let’s go talk about the city’s issues and get this all worked out.
You’re going to come with open arms and say, “Let’s make that happen.”
Yes, but I would also remind people that I am from Chicago. Don’t screw with me.
One thing that we always do when we end these interviews is we always call it knowledge through the decade. We like to walk you through each decade in your life and ask you about the attitude lesson that you would’ve learned. We always start with birth. Do you have children?
I have one son but he is adopted.
When you think of birth or new life, what do you think the attitude lesson is? It could be new life as a mayoral candidate.
From age zero to graduating from high school, it was always putting a value on education and never stop learning.
New life teaches you to learn, as the bottom line. That’s all you can do because you know nothing when you’re born. Let’s go to ten. I’d love to know where were you at ten. You’re living in Chicago. Was there an incident in your life? Was there a story in your life? Was there a bully in your life that at ten you said, “I have an attitude lesson here? I’m going to change something.” What do you remember from being ten?
What I remember was being the smartest person in the room. I was already 2 grades ahead because I started school at 3 years old. When I was twelve, I got invited to go to a meet and greet at Kenwood High School. It was on the North side of town. They thought I was 14 or 15 years old. My dad’s like, “No, he’s not. He’s only twelve. He’s not going to high school yet.”
Do you have a high IQ where you tested? Is that one of the things?
I’m not sure. I’m brilliant and incredibly good-looking.
Let’s go to twenty. Do you remember turning 20 or 21? Where were you? What do you think the attitude lesson was when you were 20 to 21?
It’s to be flexible because, between 20 and 21 when I left Germany to come back to the United States to finish school, I had a whole different set of culture shocks going on. I was at a different school, major and friends. I learned to be patient and roll with the flow.
Do you remember turning 30?
What were you doing at 30? What was your attitude lesson at 30?
I’d rather exercise my Fifth Amendment rights.
That’s okay. I’m only asking if you remember what your attitude lesson was. What did you learn?
I learned that Red Bull and vodka don’t mix very well.
It keeps you up way too late. It drags you down.
It’s a stimulant and antidepressant. I’m like, “What am I drinking this for? It does nothing for me.”
That’s when it was all cool back then. I’m guessing you’re 40.
I turned 53 in 2022.
You and I are the same age. That’s good.
I got married at 40.
Tell me real quick. You’ve been married for many years. The attitude lesson at 40 would be what then?
“Yes, dear. No, dear. I’m sorry. What was I thinking, dear?”
Tell me more.
That’s what I learned at 40 years old. It was interesting because having been single all my entire life, it was different bringing a new person on board. It was an adjustment for me and my wife at the time. One time we were in Chicago visiting my parents and my wife wanted to go downtown. I was like, “You want to go downtown for what?” “We go look around.”
I’m like, “Sweetie, nobody goes to Downtown Chicago just to walk around. You go to take care of business and you leave unless you’re a tourist. “She’s like, “I want to go downtown.” We got into an argument and my dad was like, “Son, let me tell you something. Before you get into an argument with that pretty little wife of yours, ask yourself this question. Is this the hill you want to die on? If it’s not, then you need to let it go.”
I’m not a big fan of Chicago. It’s an extremely filthy town. What’s thoughts on the cleanliness of the city?
Indianapolis or Chicago?
We know Chicago is dirty as hell. How do you keep a city clean? I’m like, “What? Is it just too many people and buildings up there?”
No. It’s a big city. If you’ve got a big city, that’s what you get. People need to feel better about the City of Indianapolis. Part of it is dealing with crime and the roads. It’s also this picking up paper and trash. Also, addressing our homeless issue. One of the things I’m exploring is what Eric Adams, the Mayor of New York City, is doing with his homeless.
This is going to sound cruel, but it makes sense as an involuntary civil commitment for people with serious mental issues. There’s a big difference between the homeless and panhandlers. The panhandler you see shaking the cup on Monument Circle where Starbucks used to be. The homeless people sleeping behind garbage cans in alleys, and those people need our help. What I would like to do is maybe take some of these industrial abandoned buildings and refurbish them.
We can use those for low-barrier entries for the homeless. That way, you can also divvy up for single men homeless, single females, homeless women, and homeless single mothers because there are enough abandoned properties in and around the city of Indianapolis. That’s what I think we should look at doing to solve our homeless issue.
Let’s get to 50. When you turned 50, what did you say to yourself? What were you thinking? What was the attitude lesson there?
“I made it to 50. Holy crap.”
“I can’t believe it. I didn’t think I’d make it.”
It’s not me. All the other people didn’t think I’d make it to 50. Fifty has been good. It’s like being 30 all over again. About every ten years, I start a new venture, occupation, or job thing. At 40, was getting married and at 30 was going to finish law school. Now, it’s like, “Let’s go run for mayor and see what happens.”
I’m excited to see what happens with you. As we do on every show, Abdul, some people are walking on a beach. There are people that may be crying in a car. There are people that maybe walked out and got fired at and said, “I need to see what’s going on with this guy.” You mentioned hope. Hope is a bit ambiguous with many different definitions but we like to finish our show with our guest giving those people who are reading your message of hope and encouragement for them and then we’re going to let you go.
People ask why I am running. Is it because of crime? Yes. Is it because of the roads? Yes. Fundamentally, I’m running for the people who are reading this. It’s more than you deserve. You have a right to a safe city. You have a right to drive down the road and not worry about your tire breaking because of another pothole that was there a couple of months ago that the city fixed, and now it’s back to being in a pothole again.
You need to feel better about where you live. If you go to my website, Abdul4Indy.com, you’ll see a bunch of policy positions. You won’t agree with everything but if you got an idea, let me know. We’ll be happy to change something if we think it makes sense. Check us out. We’re doing this for you. Thank you all very much. I appreciate you, Glenn, for having me on the show.
That is Abdul-Hakim Shabazz. He is a very intelligent candidate for mayor. He is a good person. I know that he cares and believes in hope. If you go to Abdul4Indy.com, you’re going to be able to see all of his positions and policy alignments. Abdul, thank you so much for sharing your time with us. I know you’re a busy guy. We’re honored to have you on the show. You are an alumnus of the University of Attitude Podcast platform. We’ll be following you and rooting hard for you come November 2023.
You didn’t even need to use a baseball bat as my dad would, just my attitude. Thank you very much.
Abdul, thanks so much. Readers, we will see you in the next episode.