U Black Bitch

So I got this random message this morning. Parts of the message was very similar to a message I received yesterday from a yahoo user named Saad_linsa. Prodgial and Saad_linsa it is the same person and that the person is not white, but South Asian or Middle Eastern. Just check out the bad spelling, misused slang, awkwad phrasing, and nightingale reference. But here is the message:

7:07:42 AM prodgial: hi sweet girl
7:08:53 AM marjan93: ?
7:09:08 AM prodgial: can we chat plz ?
7:09:15 AM marjan93: who are you?
7:09:56 AM prodgial: we both r stranger 2 each other but im hopin so much tdat u love 2 chat with me
7:10:52 AM marjan93: no thank you
7:11:03 AM prodgial: plz m i rude idiot
7:11:11 AM prodgial: y nobody talks 2 me
7:11:16 AM prodgial: im dat bad
7:11:20 AM prodgial: plz
7:12:00 AM prodgial: plz
7:12:10 AM prodgial: I really am the greatest ever to play this game, aren’t I?
7:12:14 AM prodgial: I won?! Oh my gosh – I never win! You must suck!
7:12:20 AM prodgial: What’s it like to lose so badly?
7:12:24 AM prodgial: OH YEAHHHHH!
7:12:26 AM prodgial: What happened? I’ve been making a sandwich for the past 10 minutes?
7:12:31 AM prodgial: Nana nana nana!
7:12:37 AM prodgial: Do me a favor. Wake me when you’re done losing
7:13:20 AM prodgial: u black bitch have u seen ur face in mirror who wana talk u u r like shit even worse thatn dat
7:13:40 AM prodgial: i just wana use n throw u
7:13:44 AM prodgial: hahahahaha
7:13:46 AM prodgial: lol

7:13:59 AM marjan93: that’s pathetic
7:14:03 AM prodgial: Oh man! That is hilarious! Sucks for you though, sorry ’bout that.
7:14:10 AM prodgial: You know something? I could have gone the rest of my life without knowing that.
7:14:21 AM prodgial: Ah, c’mon mannnn. . . that makes me want to take a shower.
7:14:24 AM prodgial: Seriously, were you even typing a language right there?
7:14:26 AM prodgial: You know something? I could have gone the rest of my life without knowing that.
7:14:41 AM prodgial: u have mede me 2 type such things
7:14:57 AM prodgial: ok buh bye nightangle
7:15:00 AM marjan93: I’m glad your ugly racism came out
7:15:06 AM marjan93: you’re a disgrace
7:15:17 AM marjan93: May God help you
7:15:18 AM prodgial: say it 2 ur self
7:15:26 AM marjan93: and forgive you
7:15:35 AM prodgial: when im showin decency u r nt even talkin to me
7:15:40 AM prodgial: u made me do dat
7:16:02 AM marjan93: I didn’t make you do anything
7:16:15 AM prodgial: hey ok i dont wanna hurt ur sentiments but im very depressed now
7:16:16 AM marjan93: I don’t know you but you are a racist
7:16:30 AM prodgial: nn anger on somebody jus fall on ur shoulder
7:16:41 AM marjan93: I feel sorry for you, but I’m done with talking to you
7:17:00 AM prodgial: i was little frutrated with my job

I then blocked the user…This sort of reminds me of how Black women were treated treated historically.

This is not the first time that I have been on the receiving end of this type abuse after I refuse the advances from a non-Black man. One of my friends noted that many men expect Black women to welcome their advances. I grew up in a neighborhood where, like many other African American women, I was subject to verbal abuse and physical threats from men who were angry at me because I didn’t accept their advances (For this reason I put on hijab for 5 years). People cannot blame hip hop as the sole source for negative stereotypes of Black women.

The black woman’s embattled defense of her body and her right to sexual self-determination constitutes a recurring theme in African American women’s literary tradition. […]numbers of other black women intellectuals, activists, and writers in the last century and a hall emphasizes the vulnerability of black women to the sexual predations of white men (during and after slavery) and the stereotype of black female lasciviousness and licentiousness that has enabled and excused white men’s rape–and the general sexual exploitation–of black women.

http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m2838/is_3_40/ai_n18630052
vie Shockley’sreview of

    Buried alive: gothic homelessness, black women’s sexuality, and death in Ann Petry’s The Street

In the United States, the fear and fascination of female sexuality was projected onto black women; the passionless lady arose in symbiosis with the primitively sexual slave. House slaves often served as substitute mothers; at a black woman’s breast white men experienced absolute dependence on a being who was both a source of wish-fulfilling joy and of grief- producing disappointment. In adulthood, such men could find in this black woman a ready object for the mixture of rage and desire that so often underlies male heterosexuality. The black woman, already in chains, was sexually available, unable to make claims for support or concern; by dominating her. Men could replay the infant’s dream of unlimited access to the mother. The economic and political challenge posed by the black patriarch might be met with death by lynching, but when the black woman seized the opportunity to turn her maternal and sexual resources to the benefit of her own family, sexual violence met her assertion of will. Thus rape reasserted white dominance and control in the private arena as lynching reasserted hierarchical arrangements in the public transactions of men.

Jacquelyn Dowd Hall’s

    The Mind That Burns in Each Body

http://xroads.virginia.edu/~UG97/blues/hall.html

These tropes have been modified and play out through the pornographic gaze on Black women’s body. It also plays a part in the invisibility and dismissal of the Black Woman in Muslim societies where we are sexual objects but not suitable for marriage. Many non-Blacks see themselves as higher up onthe social ladder. Yet, being attracted to a Black woman destabilizes their notions of beauty and desireability. A Black woman rejecting them bursts their fragile egos and then they pull a Michael Richards in a violent racist tirade. “U Black Bitch!” What makes it sad is that often Black Arab women are treated in a similar way by crude, arrogant, frustrated men, who do not know their faith but exist in a state of jahiliyya. Afro-Lebanese women are considered promiscuous and Afro-Palestinian women hardly get any marriage offers. I know beautiful Afro-Arabs who are treated poorly in comparison to their fairer sisters. Some have spoken about the types of abuse they suffered. It just reminds me, everywhere I go, everywhere I transgress some circumscribed role for Black women, any time I do something that destabilizes someone’s racist hierarchy, I’m going to be a Black Bitch.

Diseases of the Heart-Low Self Esteem and Insecurities

What does it mean to have a healthy heart? It is a constant process, purifying the heart is a life-long process. Although there are increasing numbers of Muslim psychologists in America, I do not think our communities are well equipped to deal with common emotional and psychological problems that inflict havoc on the health of our hearts. I know a number of happy and well adjusted Muslim women, however, I know of American Muslims who are suffering from depression and poor self-image. Many suffer in silence, ashamed to seek professional help. Many of us are taught to mistrust western approaches to emotional well-being and mental health.

A lot of people read books, go to various talks, and listen to recorded lectures hoping to incorporate the lessons in classical texts. I have spoken with a number of women who have gone to Imams, Sheikhs, or scholars in search of answers and the main problem is accessibility. Often, they are given a quick fix, but not one works with them over a long period of time to begin the path of healing. Speakers and scholars provide certain tools, but often they do not know the particularities of a person’s past or problems. They may not know of the underlying problems that plague an individual. Since they do not speak to the person on a regular basis, they cannot help them go through the long process of working out the deeper issues.

We are in a highly literate society, so we have access to books that for centuries were only in circulation among the scholarly elites (‘ulema, fuqaha, and government officials). Much of the Purification literature we read is based upon the writings of men in the 12th to 17th centuries. We turn to these important medieval texts that discuss diseases of the heart with little guidance. I know so many Muslims who feel overwhelmed after reading these texts. These texts deal with diseases of the heart within the context of getting to the hereafter or annihilating the ego. Little of the text deals with emotional pain that may even preclude someone from seeing beyond their immediate situation or the pain and baggage that may prevent them from letting go. A number of Muslims may even feel worse about themselves because these texts outline their clear shortcomings. But often these texts leave us feeling like “You can’t get there from here.” In fact, we should feel overwhelmed after reading how difficult it is to shed all the baggage and all the veils that prevent us from becoming who we are truly meant to be. Further, this literature reflects their worldviews, preoccupations, social norms, and cultural assumptions. Often, these scholars overlook the emotional, psychological, and spiritual needs of women even during their time.

While I still believe in the value of many of these classics, these texts do not offer the same types of services as a counselor or therapist. And many counselors or therapists are not Muslim and they may not be equipped holistically deal with the emotional, spiritual, and physical health of a Muslim. With little options, many people turn to reading books or listening to tapes about Purification of the Soul on their own. But it is not like the original sciences were meant to be self-help tools. In fact, students of Islamic sciences often traveled and studied directly under a teacher. They had very strong intimate relationships with their peers and teachers. Islamic knowledge was taught in a way that knowledge directly connected with praxis. Otherwise, knowledge of the nafs can also be destabilizing and it can be misused. I guess this is why I am skeptical of the self-help industry.

I often reflect on the relationship between “Ilm an-Nafs” Psychology and Tasawwuf “purification of the Soul.” I believe that our traditions can be adapted to fit modern needs and social demand. We should work on emotional balance and well-being and mental health because in reality diseases of the heart undermine almost everything we do. These diseases cause fitna (discord between community members, conflict, and enmity), jealousy and envy, misguided behavior, corrupt leaders, and bad intentions behind our followers. For every community, there should be 10 counselors, psychiatrists, advisers, life-coaches, etc. I will begin with a discussion of insecurities and low self-image because it is a problem that faces many women. My last entry was on Narcissism and Pathological Narcisissm Disorder, a disorder that largely effects men. But Low-self esteem is something that effects women, but it is by no means limited to women.

You can take a test online here to see if you have the symptoms of low self-esteem.

I found the characteristics of low self-esteem that you might look for:

Characteristics of Genuinely Low Self Esteem
1. Social withdrawal
2. Anxiety and emotional turmoil
3. Lack of social skills and self confidence.
4. Depression and/or bouts of sadness
5. Less social conformity
6. Eating disorders
7. Inability to accept compliments
8. An Inability to see yourself ‘squarely’ – to be fair to yourself
9. Accentuating the negative
10. Exaggerated concern over what they imagine other people think
11. Self neglect
12. Treating yourself badly but NOT other people
13. Worrying whether you have treated others badly
14. Reluctance to take on challenges
15. Reluctance to trust your own opinion
16. Expect little out of life for yourself

Information from this site this website here.
Another website, Self Esteem Awareness has an even more comprehensive list:

Characteristics of Low Self-Esteem:
1. Feel and act like a “victim”
2. Judgmental of self and others
3. Break agreements, violate own standards
4. Cover, phony
5. Exaggerate, pretend, and lie
6. Self-deprecating, shameful, blaming, critical,
7. “Nice” person, approval-seeking, people pleaser
8. Negative attitude
9. Rationalize
10. Jealous/envious of others
11. Perfectionist
12. Dependencies, addictions, compulsive, self-Complacent, stagnant
13. Not liking the work one does
14. Leave tasks and relationships unfinished
15. Judge self-worth by comparing to others, feel inferior
16. Doesn’t accept or give compliments
17. Excessive worry
18. Fearful of exploring “real self”
19. Shun new endeavors, fearing mistake or failure
20. Irrational responses, ruled by emotions
21. Lack of purpose in life
22. Feel inadequate to handle new situations
23. Feel resentful and “One down” when I lose
24. Vulnerable to others’ opinion, comment and attitudes

Many sensitive people with become religious and dogmatic because they have low-self image. But insecurities and low-self image leads to other diseases of the heart (such as, ungratefulness, envy, backbiting, anger, resentment, and arrogance) which may not always be dealt with if the person covers themselves with the cloak of religiosity or superficial spirituality. Instead, the rituals and practices become a scaffolding, as opposed to become pillars and reinforcements for purifying the heart. I believe we can make our paths easier by getting to the root of the problem.

Low self-esteem and insecurities are huge problems that prevent us from receiving any benefits from our relationships and good deeds. Why? Low self-esteem leads to backbiting, jealousy, and approval seeking and attention getting. Insecurities prevents a person from being truly intimate with other people. We don’t want to become close to someone because we truly love them, but because we seek their approval. Insecurities distort our intentions, an insecure person does something to please others, to find their value in other people. They do not do things for the sake of Allah.

Umar bin Al-Khattab, Radi-Allahu unhu, narrates: I heard Allah’s Apostle saying, “The reward of deeds depends upon the intentions. And every person will get the reward according to what he has intended.”

Insecurities affect how we view ourselves and others: we become competitive and constantly compare ourselves to others; sometimes we become judgmental in order to make ourselves feel superior; and other times we compare ourselves negatively to others and develop inferiority complexes. This leads to envy.

Volume 2, Book 24, Number 490:
Narrated Ibn Masud:
I heard the Prophet saying, “There is no envy except in two: a person whom Allah has given wealth and he spends it in the right way, and a person whom Allah has given wisdom (i.e. religious knowledge) and he gives his decisions accordingly and teaches it to the others.”

If you find that you have fallen into these traps, do not beat yourself up. Instead, make tawba (go through the process of forgiveness) for whatever actions that have corrupted your intentions or wrong deeds that came from your insecurity. There are some simple steps and one is to let go of the pain and hurt and to take a step on the right path. Purifying the heart is about changing how you think in order to change how you act. Changing how you act and how you think will influence your heart. Purifying your heart will connect you with you spirit. It is an uplifting and freeing experience. But the first thing you have to do is to take responsibility for your actions, and stop feeling like a victim and recognize that Allah is in control. You have to recognize that he enable you with the possibility to do good and wrong.
1. Ask Allah for forgiveness (You may have to go to someone you have hurt and ask them for forgiveness
2. Forgive others
3. Remove yourself from the company of those who you have done wrong with.
4. Have faith that Allah has forgiven you (this means that you need to forgive yourself and move on.) If the person doesn’t accept your forgiveness, then they are in bad shape themselves.

Once you have begun the process of tawba, maybe it is time to think about the roots of your low self-esteem. There can be outside forces and internal. Sometimes, people are highly sensitive and internalize criticism. Sometimes you don’t see our self worth because other people projected their hurt and pain on you. Friends, classmates, associates, and strangers may have taken cheap shots at you and you may take their criticism to heart. Sometimes we are taught to think about things in distorted ways. Recognize how your distorted thinking leads to low self esteem. Other times, we look for other people to validate us, as opposed to turning inwards and turning to Allah to make sure we are doing the right thing. Other people, and the broader society, cannot define your self-worth. That is the Allah’s job. If you feel like you need other people’s praise and approval, you will find that desire insatiable. People cannot truly fill the void of low-self esteem and insecurities. Self-esteem comes from having confidence in yourself and knowing that you are a worthy individual. Each individual has intrinsic worth and beauty because that is how the Creator ordained it.

I would ask any individual: Is it worth having low-self esteem and insecurities? Why waste all your good actions, hard work, and efforts? Also, why spend your life undermining your efforts? You should be tired of beating yourself up, getting into dumb situations, and not creating boundaries and getting hurt. If you realize that you have low self-esteem, whether you have known all along, took the test and found out, or realized that some of the traits in this blog fit you, I think you should seek a counselor, psychiatrist, spiritual advisor, Sheikh(a), or imam who can help you work out your issues. Seek someone who will help you work through your issues over time. You deserve it. Let go of the pain and doubts and discover our self-worth. Once you let go of your insecurities, you will then discover how easy it is to love and be loved.

Dissent in Egypt

The Egyptian regime is cracking down on all manner of dissenters — from Muslim Brothers in Parliament to the well-known Kifaya movement to bloggers and journalists. But another form of opposition has been scoring victories: a wave of wildcat strikes that, like the Kifaya protests, began in late 2004. The collective action of Egyptian workers is currently the most broad-based kind of resistance to the regime. It represents a possible threat to the “stability” President Husni Mubarak needs to pass his office on to his son, as most Egyptians are convinced he seeks to do.

Joel Beinin and Hossam el-Hamalawy tell the story of the most militant and politically important strike to date in “Egyptian Textile Workers Confront the New Economic Order.”

Workers like ‘Attar and Habib tolerate such low wages because the Misr firm is part of Egypt’s large public sector. Manual workers and white-collar employees in the public sector have jobs for life and the right to a pension equal to 80 percent of their salary at retirement. Since 2004, however, the Egyptian government has renewed its drive to privatize the textile industry. Workers fear that the new investors, many of them from India, will not provide them with the job security or the benefits they and other public-sector workers have enjoyed since most textile mills, along with other large and medium-sized enterprises in all sectors of the economy, were nationalized in the early 1960s under Gamal Abdel Nasser. These fears have led to an unprecedented wave of wildcat strikes, which, since late 2004, have been centered in the textile sector, but have spread to other industries as well. In late 2006 and 2007, the strike wave has reached a particularly high crest.

Since the enactment of Egypt’s Unified Labor Law of 2003, it has technically been legal for workers to strike, but only if approved by the leadership of the General Federation of Egyptian Trade Unions. Since the federation, along with the sectoral general unions and most enterprise-level union committees, are firmly in the grip of the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP), all actual strikes since 2003 have been “illegal.”

Muhammad ‘Attar and Sayyid Habib were among the leaders of a December 2006 strike at Misr Spinning and Weaving, one of the most militant and politically significant in the current strike wave. This upsurge of labor collective action has occurred amidst the broader political ferment that began in December 2004 with taboo-breaking demonstrations targeting President Husni Mubarak personally, demanding that he not run for reelection in 2005 (he did) and that his son, Gamal, not succeed him as president. An amendment to the constitution permitting the first-ever multi-candidate presidential election generated expectations that the 2005 presidential and parliamentary elections would be fair and democratic. These hopes were frustrated. Nonetheless, a wide swathe of the public, which is mostly engrossed in trying to earn a living, began to take notice of politics.

With the election of 88 Muslim Brothers in 2005, Egypt’s normally sleepy Parliament acquired a substantial opposition bloc that has exerted continual pressure on the regime. Inexperienced in handling serious public debate, the regime has begun to crack down viciously on all manner of dissenters — from Muslim Brothers to bloggers and journalists. The passage of a second round of constitutional amendments in March 2007 will make it much more difficult for independents and Muslim Brothers to run for political office and permanently allow abusive police practices that have been nominally illegal or permissible only under the “temporary” state of emergency in force since 1981.

Read the rest of the article in Middle East Report Online here.

Color Complex in the South Asian and African Diasporas

Tariq Nelson makes an interesting hypothesis about creating an American Muslim culture through inter-marriage between all the various ethnic groups in his blog He writes:

I am of the controversial opinion that increased interracial/intercultural marriage is one of the ways that will lead to a meshing of a singular American Muslim identity. This would eventually lead to more of a blending in this country, culturally and genetically, of the many Muslim cultures as well as the American one. Intermarriage is one of the ways people that were once even somewhat hostile can become one group.

We are seeing native born Americans, of all religions, intermarrying in ever rising numbers, but when one looks at the numbers, the proportion of overall interracial births is still not growing at the rate one would think. Why is this? It is (at least partially) because of mass immigration. Immigrants are much more likely to marry someone from back home, or arrive already married, and it hinders the continuing merging of America’s ethnicities.

Read the rest of the article here.

African Americans have been dealing with these issues. We’ve worked to debunk the myth of the talented 10th for years, did away with the brown paper bag test, celebrate dark skinned men like Denzel Washinton and Wesley Snipes. Yet there are no female counterparts to Wesley or Denzel. Instead, we have Halle Berry, Beyonce, etc. and studies that show how light skinned Black women have higher rates of marraiage than their darker skinned counterparts. Muslims have not really risen above these trends. It get complex as every ethnic group brings to the table their own cultural baggage and project their desires, insecurities, and resentments on the “Others.”

I found a interesting article “Color Complex In The South Asian Diaspora” by Francis Assisi which seems to point to the cultural norms that preclude African Americans, and especially AA women, from finding willing partners in the great Muslim melting pot:

Jennifer Hochschild, a Harvard professor of government and Afro-American studies believes that skin color, rather than race, may be a better indicator of status in the United States.

In a talk May 6th 2003 at Stanford University entitled “The Politics and Morality of a Skin Tone Ordering,” Hochschild’s “strong” hypothesis was, in her words, that across races “the darker a person’s skin color, the lower he or she is likely to be on any scale of whatever is broadly perceived to be desirable in the United States.”

In other words, in America, one is still better off as a dark-skinned Hispanic than as an African American. And within these minority groups the less dark-skinned you are, the better off you are socially.

Now, according to three different studies conducted by Indian Americans in the U.S., skin color appears to have similar impact.

The Three Studies

Roksana Badruddoja Rahman of Rutgers University has completed an unusually interesting research study: The role of skin color among Hindu Indian women in New Jersey and how it affects their marriage choice. Sarita Sahay has looked into self-esteem and ethnic identity including attitude towards color among South Asian Canadian female students. And Zareena Grewal at the University of Michigan has studied the impact of color in spouse selection among the South Asian American Muslim community.

Rahman has examined the role of skin color in the Indian women’s concept of beauty and what it signifies as a status marker in the marriage market. Her hypothesis: that a larger proportion of lighter skinned women than darker skinned women feel beautiful and attractive. The study is one of the first to attempt to focus explicitly on the relationships between skin color and feelings of attractiveness and skin color and marriage marketability in the immigrant American Hindu Indian context.

Rahman’s conclusion is that “feelings related to beauty and attractiveness and marriage marketability are partially determined by the lightness of their skin.” And though her subjects are “Hindu Indian women” one can imagine that her findings are applicable to all women of Indian or South Asian origin.

The study assumes, first, that beauty and attractiveness are defined by skin color and, second, there is a link between beauty and attractiveness, and thus skin color, to marriage marketability. Rahman observes the wide popularity of hair and complexion lighteners among South Asians (living in and outside of South Asia), predominantly among women, which she says is symbolic of the high value placed on light skin tone.

Rahman cites South Asian magazine advertisements for cosmetics and bleaching creams, such as Fair & Lovely Cream and Vicco Ayurvedic Cream, that are similar to advertisements targeted towards black American women.
[…]
In her study, Rahman draws upon literature about the role of skin color in the lives of Hindu Indian women in India and black women in the United States to develop a framework for understanding skin color and its impact on U.S. first generation immigrant Indian American women in the marriage market. She then goes on to conduct extensive interviews with Indian American women in New Jersey – that area being chosen because it has one of the fastest growing South Asian populations.

Rahman argues that the politics and implications of skin color in Indian community and among black Americans are extraordinarily similar, and the strict juxtaposition of black and white works well in understanding the implications of skin color and the definition of beauty among black Americans, Indians in India, and Indians living in the U.S.

Rahman points out in her study: “I find three major commonalties between Indians and black Americans in general. First, both race and caste are systems of social closure. Second, black women in America and Indian women’s bodies are sexualized and racialized in a similar manner. And third, skin color and other facial features play a significant role.”

Thus the message relayed to the women of both cultures is that light skin is more attractive (especially to men) than dark skin, and both, internalizing the “ivory skin model”, go to great lengths to alter their phenotypic features.

Zareen Grewal’s study in Michigan shows that many South Asian Muslim immigrants covet whiteness.
[…]
Grewal has noted in her study that ‘particular physical qualities are always fetishized in constructions of beauty. However, in these communities, the stigma attached to dark color intersects with broader racial discourses in the U.S. That’s why a Desi mother of three daughters in their twenties, explicitly refers to dark coloring as a physical abnormality and deficiency.’
[…]

In the final study by Sarita Sahay and Niva Piran, authors of Skin-color preferences and body satisfaction among the South Asian-Canadian and European-Canadian female university students, they find that second generation South Asian women (in Canada), like their counterparts in South Asia, equate light skin with beauty.

Skin color is a trait germane to the experience of racism by all minorities. However, in the case of South Asians in America, they are simultaneously victims and perpetrators. As perpetrators, their racism is contingent upon a light skin ideal.

True, light skin has implications for social status among both men and women, but nowhere is it of more consequence than in the commodification of female attractiveness. This celebration of fairness as a feminine virtue is not new in South Asia’s patriarchal history, but what is shocking is the extent to which it continues today even in the diaspora.

As many Desis leave their home countries for the US, their intra-racist ideologies emigrate with them and are reinforced and transformed by the racial climate in the U.S. Sultana, an immigrant from India, explains how ideologies of color are reformulated in a society with a white majority: “Most [Desis] are samla, neither dark nor fair. So what is fair over there might be samla over here. Like, in India, you would be very fair, but here you won’t because of the white Americans. So it depends on the comparison.”

Sultana explicitly refers to white Americans as the standard to be measured against. Interestingly, although most Muslim immigrants in these communities construct whites as racially different from them, for some, like Sultana, whites remain the point of reference. For others, the ability to “pass” as white informs their color preferences.

The stigma of dark skin and the preference for light coloring are coded racially as immigrants assess their status as minorities in the U.S. and the benefits of “passing” as whites. The fetishizing of light skin is related to the broader racial climate of the U.S., where minorities from South Asia regularly experience discrimination. In other words, color-coded intra-racism is simultaneously a self-destructive internalization of white supremacy and a strategy for surviving it.

As scholars such as Grewal, Rahman and Sahay do research on their own cultures, it is important not to overlook the role played by color in current power relationships. That’s one way to combat racism from without, and within.

I found another article about the South Asian marriage market, From “Wheatish to Dark”: Globalization, Marriage & Skin Color Commodification” by Maryum Saifee.

I think these articles are fascinating because they describe some of the underlying factors that shape the contours of relations between immigrant Muslims and African Americans. For 14 years, I have heard African American brothers complain about not being able to marry other Muslim ethnicities. Recently, more African American sisters in integrated Muslim communities have begun to talk about how invisible they feel. One could be Muslim for a year or two without a single serious prospect for marriage. This is the case for several African and African American Muslim women that I know. It is striking because American society is fairly open to interracial marriage, but American Muslims seem to maintain clear ethnic lines (except when it comes to marrying White American converts).

Likewise, I have wondered about the this desire for intermarriage on the part of some African American brothers. We have own color complexes and they run deep. One of my North African friends stated, “I know why Black men like us, we look like light skinned Black women.” Some black men desiring South Asian women because they to may look mixed or racially ambiguous. Some look like mixed women who have “Caucasian” features and long straight hair (two measures of beauty within the Black community) in combination with brown skin. I remember reading Zareena Grewal’s paper on “Marriage in Color,” and her study showed how immigrant women and white women had many more advantages when it came to choosing a marriage partner. It is clear that dark skinned African American women face more challenges than their lighter sisters, in both job discrimination and in how this society perceives them. Being in the community is not about competition, but it is frustrating to see women dismissed so easily because of the amount of melanin in their skin. But then again, anyone who cannot see that these sisters are truly beautiful is really beneath those amazing sisters.

African American scholars and intellectuals have been wrestling with colorism and racism for generations. You’d think these issues would get old and that we could move past it. But as Muslims we find out that these issues resurface in very different, but no less complex and troubling ways. As one of my favorite instructors said about racism, “Racism does not just hurt Black people, but it victimizes White people too.” We’re living in a multi-cultural, stratified society; so the victims are not just Black and White. Tribalism, nationalism, cultural chauvanism, classism, and colorism are tools that really undermine our communities and prevents us from moving forward.

Islam and Hip Hop: Who’s Gonna Take the Weight?

Repost: After a walk down memory lane, I thought I’d repost this entry:
Gangstarr’s 1991 track must have dropped a seed. Three years after viewing this video on the daily on Rap city, there I was, as a Muslim. It was summer of 1994, in Atlanta. I was covered, rockin the head wrap and a printed wrap around skirt. I was so pumped when Guru hit the stage,One of my favorite memories…

Who’s Gonna Take the Weight
Intro:
“Knowledge is power, and knowledge can be the difference between life
or death…you should know the truth and the truth shall set you
free.”

Verse 1
I was raised like a Muslim
Prayin’ to the East
Nature of my life relates rhymes I release
like a cannon
Cuz I been plannin’ to be rammin’ what I wrote
straight on a plate down your throat
So digest as I suggest we take a good look
At who’s who while I’m readin’ from my good book
And let’s dig into every nook and every cranny
Set your mind free as I slam these thoughts
And just like a jammy goes pow [FX: Gunshots]
You’re gonna see what I’m sayin’ now
You can’t be sleepin’
cuz things are gettin’ crazy
You better stop being lazy
There’s many people frontin’
And many brothers droppin’
All because of dumb things, let me tell you somethin’
I’ve been through so much that I’m such
a maniac, but I still act out of faith
that we can get the shit together so I break
on fools with no rhymes skills messin’ up the flow
And people with no sense who be movin’ much too slow
And so, you will know the meaning of the Gang Starr
Guru with the mic and Premier raise the anchor
swiftly, as we embark on a journey
I had to get an attorney
I needed someone to defend my position
Decisions I made, cuz now it’s time to get paid
And ladies, these rhymes are like the keys to a dope car
Maybe a Lexus or a Jaguar
Still, all of that is just material
So won’t you dig the scenario
And just imagine if each one is teachin’ one
We’ll come together so that we become
A strong force, then we can stay on course
Find your direction through introspection
And for my people out there I got a question
Can we be the sole controllers of our fate?
Now who’s gonna take the weight?

Verse 2
The weight of the world is heavy on my mind
So as my feelings unwind I find
That some try to be down just cuz it’s trendy
Others fall victim to envy
But I’ll take the road less travelled
So I can see all my hopes and my dreams unravel
Relievin’ your stress, expressin’ my interest
In the situation that you’re facin’
That’s why I’m down with the Nation
Spirituality supports reality
We gotta fight with the right mentality
So we can gain what is rightfully ours
This is the meaning of the chain and the star
Land is power, so gimme forty acres
Let’s see how far I can take ya
Original invincible
That’s how I’m lookin’ at it
I use my rhymes like a Glock automatic
Any means necessary, I’m goin’ all out
Before the rains bring the nuclear fallout
So let me ask you, is it too late?
Ayo, who’s gonna take the weight?

A young brother noted in Umar Lee’s comments that hip hop taught him some negative things about street life. But for me, hip hop created an opening. It was not uncommon to turn on Rap City and see references to Nation of Islam, 5 percenters, Orthodox Islam, and Afrocentricity. I loved Tribe Called Quest, had a big crush on Ali Shaheed Muhammad. Rakim was the greatest Rapper alive. I was loyal to Poor Righteous Teachers who came from my hometown, Trenton. I thought that KMD’s peach fuzz was way too cute. Public Enemy enemy politicized me. Brand Nubian reminded me that I could throw out a Takbir and be gangsta too.

Mujahideen Ryder wrote about it in his blog entry, Islam: Hip-Hop’s Official Religion. Adisa Banjoko has written two erudite books on the ways Hip Hop artists engage with chess, holistic health, consciousness, and martial arts and address issues that face our communities called, Lyrical Swords.

So, now getting back to Guru’s lyrics.
Last night, as the conversation went on, I began to feel the weight. The burden of a conscious Black Muslim woman has to carry is real heavy. She acknowledged my situation and sadness relating to structural inequalities and systematic forms of oppression. Since these problems are global I felt the weight of the world bear down on me. But just escaping means that I’ll be part of the problem, but I’m trying to be part of the solution. But sometimes, I can’t handle the whole weight and my pessimism takes over. My sister pushed through all my negativity and gave me hope and solace. Her optimism is full of a positivity that grows from a sincere faith in Allah. She reminded me that he’s the light that shines through us and in us and makes us all beautiful. She carried the weight with me. I realized I can only be close to people in my life who are willing to take the weight.

Can the Mosquito Speak?

Can the Mosquito Speak? Hell yeah it does, it says” bzzzzzzzz” and that’s enough for me.
I’m planning my year abroad and there was a pretty heated discussion about a sister’s death (possibly due to Malaria) in Somalia on Umar Lee’s, Murder of a Sister . While I do not think she was murdered, I critiqued the folly of Muslims who travel to places in high disease environments without proper shots and medications. I know there are Muslims who are against immunizations. Some are raising their unimmunized kids in America, others are taking them to places that I’d get Tetanus, TB, Rabies, Cholera, Yellow Fever, Dysentry, Hepatitus A,B, (isn’t there a B and a D? I dunno), Chicken Pox, Measles, any I’d just make sure my shot record was on point. I’d also carry a good back of antibiotics and disinfectant. I got a rough microbial parasite while in Morocco, I was sick as a dog and lost maybe 10 pounds in like 2 days throwing up and having explosive—[let me just stop right here]. I love the pharmacy, without those meds, I don’t know how I would have recovered. But there was a religious scholar in Northern Nigeria who advised his followers not to immunize their kids. There was a polio epidemic, and if anybody remembers steel lungs and the depressing black and white movies of polio, you’d wonder why would people follow some nonsense. I’m all for natural medicine. But dang, germs and viruses kill more people than guns and bombs.

I am going to Egypt for a year, and being the hypochondriac that I am, (if you haven’t figure that out already), I felt the need to do some research and visit a travel medicine clinic. I remember reading Timothy Mitchell’s book “Rule of Experts,” which is an excellent book about technocrats in Egypt. He had an amazing chapter about the dam projects which caused epidimics of malaria in Egypt. For Mitchtell, the mosquito became a historical agent. He made the funniest play on words and Subaltern theory, with a chapter titled “Can the mosquito speak?” The mosquito cannot write its own history, but a water irrigation scheme set off a set of reactions that increased the mosquito population. Thousands died and the whole country had to be mobilized to eradicate the problem.

Although I am all into recovering the voices of the subaltern. I am all for the underdog and decentered histories, but I dislike mosquitoes. I get massive swelling whenever a mosquito bites me. It gets really hot and itchy, sometimes really painful. Mosquitoes are gross, I don’t want to hear them speak. In fact, I want them eradicated because I don’t see how they do anybody good, except for the bugs and birds that eat them. And the mosquitoes carry malaria, which is my worst nightmare. There are many forms of malaria, but in some zones, there is Falciparum malaria, the most dangerous form of the disease. Falciparum malaria is common in tropical and sub-tropical Africa.

There isn’t a high risk of getting malaria in Egypt, but I’m still going to get some anti-malarial medication in case I decide last minute to hop over to Yemen. Whatever way it goes, I’m so cool off of mosquitoes.

Natural Protection Against Malaria:
A number of African Americans have some protection against Falciparum malaria. My friend, who is of West African and African American extraction, experienced this directly. She has the sickle trait and never got malaria while in Yemen , but her husband did (he doesn’t have the trait). 1 in 12 African Americans are carriers of the sickle cell trait. If you inherited the trait from both your parents, you may be suffer sickle cell anemia. It can be pretty devastating. And not enough funding goes to treatment and research, because it is a “Black” disease. Sickle cell traits were a natural defense that developed in regions where there are malarial belts. People with sickle cell are more likely to survive once infected. When the slavers traded our ancestors off and the Europeans packed them into boats, many Africans died. Some 15-25 million Africans were transported and many didn’t make it. The majority of Africans went to the Carribean and South America. There, they died within years time under brutal plantation systems. A lot different from how you guys imagine your Carribean holidies. There was also malaria in the South. The death rates were so bad, that they the populations did not reproduce itself. Instead, Europeans imported more Africans to die. But eventually the conditions in the Americas allowed for Africans to develop self-sustaining communities. So, out of that survival story, our ancestors gave us antibodies to survive the disease environment in the Americas. They also passed to many of us a trait that could help us survive a devastating disease–malaria.

Preventing Malaria:
Just because you have the trait doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take precautionary measures. You should sleep with a mosquito net to prevent the mosquitoes from biting you while you’re sleep, spray on stinky DEET to prevent mosquito bite (they can’t find you cause you smell so bad), and take those anti-malarial medications to block the life-cycle of the parasite that causes malaria. But Anti-malarial medications are pretty wild. They can cause hallucinations, I mean scary hallucinations. A brother I know took them while studying abroad, I believe in Kenya or maybe Tanzania. He said that he had the most vivid dream where his mother was on fire, burning right in front of him…shudder…My friend went to Ghana and passed up on the antimalarial medications out of fear of the medication’s side effects. Alhumdulillah she did not encounter many mosquitoes and didn’t contract anything. But even though there are cases of people walking away unharmed. I know others who have suffered from malaria. For anybody travelling, be sure to take precautions, especially if you have children. I don’t care if you going Tablighing in India, for sacred in Yemen, or to Somalia or Northern Nigeria for hijrah. Check out the Center for Disease Control Website.

Why is Malaria Still a killer:

Malaria kills a child somewhere in the world every 30 seconds. It infects at least 500 million people each year, killing 1 million. Ninety per cent of those who die are in Africa, where malaria accounts for about one in five of all childhood deaths.

I have also read debates where Africans advocated the use of DDT in order to eradicate mosquitoes, but DDT is banned internationally by Western environmentalists. African American and African environmentalists have been pushing for the end to the ban on DDT because it would save the lives of African children. See website here. Other organizations take UNICEF has Malaria advocacy program. Malaria kills more than AIDs, but it doesn’t get the same publicity. Perhaps you can do something to help alleviate the suffering that is caused by this forgotten disease.

The malaria parasite life cycle involves two hosts. During a blood meal, a malaria-infected female Anopheles mosquito inoculates sporozoites into the human host . Sporozoites infect liver cells and mature into schizonts , which rupture and release merozoites . (Of note, in P. vivax and P. ovale a dormant stage [hypnozoites] can persist in the liver and cause relapses by invading the bloodstream weeks, or even years later.) After this initial replication in the liver (exo-erythrocytic schizogony ), the parasites undergo asexual multiplication in the erythrocytes (erythrocytic schizogony ). Merozoites infect red blood cells . The ring stage trophozoites mature into schizonts, which rupture releasing merozoites . Some parasites differentiate into sexual erythrocytic stages (gametocytes). Blood stage parasites are responsible for the clinical manifestations of the disease.

The gametocytes, male (microgametocytes) and female (macrogametocytes), are ingested by an Anopheles mosquito during a blood meal . The parasites’ multiplication in the mosquito is known as the sporogonic cycle . While in the mosquito’s stomach, the microgametes penetrate the macrogametes generating zygotes . The zygotes in turn become motile and elongated (ookinetes) which invade the midgut wall of the mosquito where they develop into oocysts . The oocysts grow, rupture, and release sporozoites , which make their way to the mosquito’s salivary glands. Inoculation of the sporozoites into a new human host perpetuates the malaria life cycle.*

*This information came from the CDC website.

So, for all you Muslim travellers. Here’s a bit of a rundown on malaria in places we might visit. Just remember, have trust in Allah and tie your camel too.
Risk of Malaria in Middle East

Malaria Risk by Country

Risk present, chloroquine resistance present Take Chloroquine plus proguanil or Doxycycline
Afghanistan (below 2000m, May-November)
Iran
Oman (remote rural areas only)
Saudi Arabia (except northern, eastern and central provinces, Asir plateau, and western border cities, where there is very little risk; no risk in Mecca)
Tajikstan (June-October)
Yemen (no risk in Sana’a)

Risk low take Chloroquine or Proguanil
Armenia (June-October).
Azerbaijan (southern border areas, June-September)
Egypt (El Faiyum only, June-October)
Iraq (rural north and Basrah Province, May-November)
Kyrgystan (south-west, May-October)
Syria (north border, May-October)
Turkey (plain around Adana, Side, south east Anatolia; May-October)
Turkmenistan (south-east only, June-October)

Risk very low Avoid mosquito bites
Algeria
Egypt (tourist areas malaria free)
Georgia (south-east, July-October)
Kyrgystan (but low risk in south-west)
Libya
Morocco (rural areas)
Turkey (most tourist areas)
Uzbekistan (extreme south-east only)

About Time: American Historical Association Denounces War In Iraq

American Historical Association Denounces the War in
Iraq

March 13, 2007
Contact: Alan Dawley 215-843-6754

In an unprecedented step, the nation’s oldest and
largest professional association of historians, the
American Historical Association (AHA), has ratified a
resolution condemning government violations of civil
liberties linked to the war in Iraq. The resolution
urges members “to do whatever they can to bring the
Iraq war to a speedy conclusion.” In electronic
balloting whose results were announced on March 12,
some three-quarters of those voting supported the
resolution, which was originally proposed by members
of
Historians Against the War (HAW), a national network
of
over two thousand scholars on more than four hundred
campuses. The resolution had gained earlier acceptance
from members attending the AHA’s annual meeting in
Atlanta on January 6, 2007, and from the AHA Council,
which decided to send the resolution out for
ratification because of its sensitive nature.

“The outcome indicates the deep disquiet scholars feel
about damage done to scholarly inquiry and democratic
processes by this misbegotten war,” said Alan Dawley,
Professor of History at The College of New Jersey and
a
former winner of the prestigious Bancroft Prize, who
was the initial mover of the resolution.

The American Historical Association was chartered by
Congress in 1889. Past Presidents include two United
States presidents who were also historians, Woodrow
Wilson and Theodore Roosevelt. President John F.
Kennedy was also a member. According to current
members, there is no instance in its 118-year history
when the AHA has dissented from U.S. foreign policy.
Staughton Lynd, a prominent supporter of a defeated
1969 resolution opposing the Vietnam war, comments:
“Back then we asked historians not only to oppose the
Vietnam war but to protest harassment of the Black
Panthers and to call for freeing political prisoners.
This resolution focuses on government practices that
obstruct the practice of history. It asks the
American
Historical Association only to encourage its members,
as individuals, in finding ways to end the war in
Iraq.”

In the weeks leading to the vote, many of the nation’s
leading historians, such as Eric Foner of Columbia
University and John Coatsworth of Harvard, both former
AHA Presidents endorsed the resolution.

For more information on the AHA and the resolution, go
to http://www.historians.org/. For more information on
Historians Against the War, go to
http://www.historiansagainstwar.org