Courtesy of Al Jazeera

Courtesy of Al Jazeera

 
Al Jazeera / 6.21.17
THE CAMERAS COULD NOT SAVE PHILANDO CASTILE 
CAMERAS WILL NOT END BLACK DEATHS. 

Over the past few years the use of cameras - whether on police vehicles, on the police themselves or taken by citizen journalists - has been seen as a possible means of achieving more police accountability and preventing black deaths. This cautiously hopeful narrative made Friday's acquittal of Jeronimo Yanez for the murder of Philando Castile especially upsetting for many. 

I think the narrative caught on because it was thought that if we could show them, if they - white America - could see it, with their own eyes, they could no longer deny the truth...


 
Courtesy of Wiki Commons

Courtesy of Wiki Commons

Ebony Magazine / 7.21.16
HE WAS OURS - WHAT MUHAMMAD ALI MEANT TO MUSLIMS

 

Like many, ...

I found out about the death of Muhammad Ali via social media. My timelines and newsfeeds were full of the expected stages of grief-- shock and disbelief followed by sadness and commemoration. Along with these expected responses came something unexpected: My Muslim friends shared after photo of themselves as babies, toddlers and adolescents posing with The Champ. These photos were posted not only by other Black Muslims but also by friends whose parents were Muslim immigrants to the United States from South Asia and the Middle East. They, too, shared stories of folks "back home" who, for example would gather around the only TV in the neighborhood to watch Ali... 


 
Courtesy of Al Jazeera

Courtesy of Al Jazeera

 
Al Jazeera / 1.29.17
TRUMP'S MUSLIM BAN IS A DANGEROUS DISTRACTION
DONALD TRUMP'S EXECUTIVE ORDERS ARE SMOKE AND MIRRORS TO DISTRACT HIS SUPPORTERS FROM THE PROMISES HE WON'T BE KEEPING

 

On January 27th, ...

US President Donald Trump signed an executive order to make good on his promised Muslim Ban. One of the primary provisions of the order is a ban on visas to the US to nationals from seven countries: Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, which are all Muslim-majority nations.

There is something peculiar about this list. The draft of the executive order begins by citing 9/11 as a failure of the "visa-issuance process". It blames the state department for preventing "counselor officers from properly scrutinizing the visa applications of several of the 19 foreign nationals who went on to murder 3000 Americans."

The overwhelming majority of those individuals were from Saudi Arabia, yet, Saudi Arabia is not on the list. Furthermore, when it comes to "homegrown terrorism" of all the Muslims accused, charged, convicted and killed, some of them are from these seven countries in Trump's list and some are not, some are immigrants and some are American citizens, and a number of them have been entrapped by federal law-enforcement agencies. This either means that the list needs to be much longer or there is something more than national security concerns at play...


 
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The Immanent Frame / 9.22.16
WE GON' BE ALRIGHT: BLACK LIVES MATTER AND BLACK RELIGION 

 

In a recent conversation with a racial justice organizer, ...

I asked if religious institutions played a role in their work. The response was “happily, no” because religious folks “don’t come to join but to tell you what to do.” This sentiment reflects the observation that religious groups seem to be, on the whole, on the margins of the movement for Black lives. Their sidelining is particularly pronounced because today’s movement is often compared to civil rights era activism in which the Black Church and Black Islam played central roles. This absence is also intentional insomuch as the principles that guide young Black activists—particularly around issues of hierarchy, respectability, and sexuality—challenge the social norms of some Black religious communities. Nevertheless, the marginalization of particular forms of religiosity does not make Black Lives Matter a secular movement.

As Talal Asad argued, the secular is a formation, which means it is a social phenomenon that forms and is formed by ways of living in the world and, as such, it has its own priorities, exclusions, and preoccupations. One of which is liberalism’s emphasis on personal autonomy as the principle desire and achievement of the individual—who is the center of the secular universe. This emphasis stands in stark contrast to Black Lives Matter organizing, which centers on a notion of community that has a “duty to love one another"...


Courtesy of The Atlantic

Courtesy of The Atlantic

 
The Atlantic / 6.16.16
HERE'S "WHAT'S GOING ON" WITH MUSLIMS:
SIX ANSWERS TO THE QUESTION BEHIND DONALD TRUMP'S IMMIGRATION BAN

 

What is going? ...

What’s going on is that Donald Trump’s suggested “Muslim ban” is simply standard White American racism, 21st-century edition. How do I know this? Because black Muslims have been contending with such racism since 1776. Part of my inheritance, as a black Muslim citizen of the United States, is knowing how to spot this phenomenon, which is as durable as it is elastic.

As President Obama noted in a speech at the Islamic Society of Baltimore, “Islam has always been part of America.” Scholars estimate that up to 30 percent of Africans enslaved in the United States were Muslim. Perhaps these enslaved African American Muslims would have endorsed a “Muslim ban”—as a means of protecting them from bondage. The institution of American slavery sought to dehumanize the enslaved by systematically stripping them of names, family ties, culture, and religion. Yet historical accounts of the enslaved reveal valiant efforts to hold onto and pass on their traditions...


 
tree-lemon-fruit.jpg
 
Sapelo Square / 5.06.16
GOD GAVE US LEMONS

In the visual masterpiece that is ...

Beyoncé’s newest visual album, Lemonade, there are several references to what is called “Black Religion,” “Black Diaspora Religion,” and/or “Africana Religiosity.” There was the expected presence of Christianity—as distinctly practiced by Black people (to riff off a point made at a recent talk by Dr. Jennifer Richardson). There were also, as many have noted, prominent references to African Diaspora religious traditions known as Lukumi, Santeria, La Regla de Ocha, Candomble and Ifa (what traditions are called is tied to place and practitioners). One of the most clear references was to the Orisha Oshun who Beyoncé appears to invoke in the video segment for the song “Hold Up.” Islam, as practiced within Black communities in the Diaspora, also makes appearances in the visual album.

Most notably, the visual album features an excerpt of a speech by Malcolm X in which he describes the Black woman as the most “disrespected,” “unprotected,” and “neglected” person in the United States. Malcolm X is cherished in Black communities for his unflinching commitment to global Black liberation, yet his Muslim identity is often forgotten or evacuated of its spiritual significance...


 
Courtesy of The Islamic Monthly

Courtesy of The Islamic Monthly

 
The Islamic Monthly / 9.22.14
AMERICAN MUSLIMS AND THE 'FACTS OF BLACKNESS'

 

Picture this ...

An American Muslim event, such as a lecture, conference or maybe a well-planned fundraiser. The so-so lighting on the stage illuminates the night’s main event. He is African American, male and Muslim. The committee that planned this event chose him because he can move a crowd — to want be a little more “Muslim” or add more zeros to their checks. The crowd has heard of him before and they wait, with bated breath, to be moved. Many adore him, some idolize him, and all are unlike him in one very significant way: None of them are black.

In my research on American Muslims, I have witnessed scenarios like this more times than I can count. Behind the scenes, I have heard concerns, particularly from hip hop artists, about policing. The Muslim hip hop artists, most of whom are African Americans, whom Muslim event committees usually invite often complain about an array of regulations that come along with these invitations. Songs are screened for appropriate content, and once they successfully pass these “content tests,” artists may be asked to perform acapella or over drum-only tracks...


 
Courtesy of World Can't Wait

Courtesy of World Can't Wait

Huffpost The Blog / 8.5.13
YOU ARE TRAYVON: INSTRUCTIONS FOR MY BLACK [AND] MUSLIM SONS 

 

In an article on the Trayvon Martin tragedy, ...

 Melissa Harris-Perry cites WEB Dubois’ searing question: “How does it feel to be a problem?” Taking his question into the present day, she lists a series of conditions in which certain Americans are made to feel as if they are a “problem.” These include the devaluation of black life and delegitimization of black citizenship during Hurricane Katrina and the false equivalencies of Muslim and terrorist, and Latin@ and “illegal.” These descriptions may be interpreted as distinct experiences: black, Muslim, Latin@. Yet, all those types could easily be found in the same body. The sons I might have one day will have unambiguously black bodies, be Muslim, marked in name and (hopefully) practice, and may also speak the Spanish tongue of their grandfather.

What kind of world will they inhabit?

Will they be stopped and frisked by the police on a street corner? Will they be gunned down on their way home because their wallet was, unbelievably, mistaken for a gun? Will their swagger, be it in a hoodie, their gait or some other form of indomitable blackness, put a target on their backs for the civilian-vigilante? Will their names make them suspects to be detained at the airport and placed on no-fly lists? Will their beards make alarms go off in the narrow minds of fellow passengers?...


 
Courtesy of Eve Rivera

Courtesy of Eve Rivera

The Islamic Monthly / 6.17.13
BLACK AND BLUE: REMEMBERING ISLAM AND HIP HOP

 

“I don’t care what people say | I’m gonna do this hip-hop anyway | I don’t care what people scream | I’m gonna follow my, I’m gonna follow my | Beat me till I’m black and blue | Freedom comes in that shade, too | Stand my ground and persevere | Until my death I’ma be right here”

So sings the Emmy award nominee, poet and vocalist Liza Garza on her debut album, “Bloom Beautiful.” These verses, which repeat over and over the syncopated track are a dhikr (remembrance), that when taken with the sincerity and sanctity with which it is offered, is a challenge to remember how the story of American Muslims and the story of hip-hop are intertwined, and why that matters.

In most accounts, the story of hip-hop begins in South Bronx during the 1970s. This section of New York City had become the victim of urban renewal policies that resulted in severe unemployment, the loss of quality housing and public services, and the flight of private investment. Hip-hop anthems such as “The Message” by Grandmaster Flash emerged as a response to these conditions: a way to explain them, resist them and live despite them. Yet the story of hip-hop is not just about reacting to poverty... 


 
The Moorish Chief  c. 1878 // courtesy of Wiki Commons

The Moorish Chief  c. 1878 // courtesy of Wiki Commons

Huffpost The Blog / 8.5.11
THE PECULIAR CASE OF THE BLACK AMERICAN ISLAMAPHOBE

 

Growing up in the diverse black communities of ...

Brooklyn, NY, being Muslim was not really a strange thing. And to a certain extent the same could be said for the rest of the city. For example, a few years ago I attended a bombazo in the South Bronx and while there, I needed to make one of the five daily prayers. In addition to an inconspicuous place to make salat, I needed to figure out the direction of Mecca, northeast. All I asked one of the event organizers, who was not a Muslim, was: “Do you know which way is east?” To which she immediately responded, “Oh, you need to pray?” and then led me to a quiet and clean place where I could do just that. This familiarity with Islam comes from the role that various everyday and prominent Muslims, like Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali, have played in shaping black identity and fighting against racial inequality. And when hip hop took up Black Nationalism in the 80s and 90s, being Muslim was not only familiar but also cool. Even Ramadan, which incidentally began this week, had a cameo, albeit irreverent, in the hip hop track “Kick in the Door” where Biggie Smalls rhymes “quick fast, like Ramadan.”

This is why I remain perplexed at the ascendance of African Americans who spew the rhetoric of anti-Muslim bias. Last year, there was Juan Williams’ inextricable fear of Muslim garb (whatever that is). Then there was the surprising discovery that black residents are participating in the campaign against the expansion of a local mosque in Murfreesboro, TN...


 
Courtesy of Wiki Commons

Courtesy of Wiki Commons

Religion Dispatches / 11.14.11
NO ONE CAN TELL I’M A MUSLIM: ALL-AMERICAN MUSLIM DEBUTS

 

As I watch way more reality TV than ...

I probably should admit to, my expectation was that All-American Muslim, which premiered this past Sunday on TLC, would be “All-American Orientalist,” replete with images of women in hijab trying to break free, patriarchal fathers, and exotic immigrant traditions. And it was. But it also wasn’t. Set in Dearborn, Michigan, the show follows five Muslim-American families as they, “struggle to balance faith and nationality in a post-9/11 world.”

All-American Muslim certainly does traffic in the “women in Islam” and “tradition” tropes, among others, but it also offers some surprises. The Shi’a tradition is presented as exemplar of Islam, for example, and the Muslims featured are far from monolithic in their beliefs and practice. Yet even while these five families are diverse in some important ways, All-American features Arab-American Muslims exclusively, missing an opportunity to truly depict the diversity of American Islam.

Generally speaking, when the US discourse on Islam and Muslims is not focused on terrorism, it’s usually preoccupied with Muslim women—their rights or lack thereof, depending on your vantage point. The obsession with Muslim women, and fetishization of what is commonly referred to as the “hijab,” has a long history...


 
courtesy of gleenshootspeople

courtesy of gleenshootspeople

OnFaith / 06.04.10
YOUNG MUSLIM VOICES: SELF-DEFINITION AS FREEDOM

 

Critical Self-Definition is the most significant challenge facing  ...

American Muslim communities today. This challenge is the product of an all too popular conversation on “Muslim pathologies” i.e. a “culture of terrorism” created by institutions and individuals who benefit materially from demonizing Muslims. Unfortunately, under the pressure of this pervasive discourse many American Muslims have let this external narrative determine how they see themselves and what their communities’ priorities should be.

Thus, the challenge before us is to reclaim our sense of who we are from those who believe the benefits of being American belong to only a chosen few. When Muslims engage in Critical Self-Definition we act in the world according to our own terms, rather than compelled by external threats of violence and marginality. What are these terms?

They are principles and values rooted in the Islamic intellectual tradition and the lessons we learn from the everyday work of being Muslim. Yet this process of definition on our own terms must be critical... 


 
Courtesy of Sapelo Square

Courtesy of Sapelo Square

The Root / 10.01.08
EID AL-FITR -- IT'S A BLACK THANG, TOO

 

For the past month, ...

I have been dragging myself out of bed at 4 a.m. for a pre-dawn meal, usually yogurt and granola, to prepare for an all-day fast. At each sunset, I have been breaking my fast in the lively, and lovely, company of my fellow Muslim sisters and brothers fasting for Ramadan.

Before things go back to a better kind of normal in a few days, I've got some serious celebrating to do! Today, I will join about 1 billion Muslims around the world commemorating the end of a month of fasting with the celebration of Eid al-Fitr.

The black Muslim celebrations I am describing don't look much like the Hollywood version of our faith. We are part of the African diaspora, with roots in the Caribbean, Latin America and the American South. We are African-American Muslims who found within Islam spiritual enlightenment and more...