N-gga Talk

Last year I wrote about a teacher who was suspended for telling his student to “Sit Down Nigga!” I made a brief reference to the Michael Richard’s racial tirade in a blog entry about Cross cultural discourse on Black Culture and the Black Family . Even though the NAACP staged the funeral of the N-word, it appears that the N-word is alive and well and exploited by all sorts of people.

Let me tell you my most recent experience. I met a friend at a random franchise Mexican restaurant for a bite to eat. We haven’t been able to catch up in a long time. She’s from the East Coast and spent several years in New York. Anyone coming to Palo Alto from a major East Coast city often experiences a major culture shock. This is especially the case for African Americans who move from areas where there is a significant African American population. I know of a very WASPy guy whose father moved to Idaho because he felt like the Mexicans and Asians were taking over. One has to wonder how do some of the old timers feel when they see brown faces walking in their multi-million dollar neighborhoods and local spots . You see Palo Alto is an affluent suburb of San Francisco that is predominately white. Rarely do I experience racial hostility, except for the one time when my brother and I were seated next to a skinhead couple at another more trendy franchise restuarant. He had a Black jacket that said “White boy” and “Fuck all yall!” his girlfriend wore a hat that said “Skin.” I am sure they felt like us two Black people invaided their white space of Palo Alto. They didn’t say anything to us, but then again there were only two of them. The issue was that they wore their white supremacist ideology as accessories in order to let people like me and my brother, and the dozen or so Somoans who would have destroyed them in an altercation, that this was their town and Fuck all of us.

While this was a rare occasion, I do get other instances when I am very much aware of my outsider status. Normally, I get stared at a lot. Last Monday, one of my friends who is racially ambiguous but clearly not white noticed how all these white people stared at us. Some with mouths agape. I assured her it could not all be just because I am black or they are staring at my hair. On occassion someone will pay me a compliment. So, I just assume they are staring for more positive reasons. Not that I should let that get to my head. But last Friday, an old white man at a cafe just stared at me with one of those stone cold stares. I swear it had to last about 20 minutes. There was no friendliness involved, just one of those stares that made me quite uncomfortable. But I tried to act like everything was normal and not let it phase me.

Maybe something was in the air this past week. But it wasn’t just me. I’m not hyper-sensitive or something, and it was more than just stares. That Thursday evening my friend and I ate outside at that franchise Mexican restaurant. After I got up to take wrap up my leftovers my friend informed me that a young hispanic/latina/Chicana used the N-word. She was talking to her Asian and White friends who sat at the table. From what I recall, she said “Oh he’s using that nigger talk.” Immediately I got pissed. My friend, who has dreads, just experienced a child commenting on her hair. This was the last straw. So, my friend went up to the girl and checked her. My friend’s point was that if this teenager felt comfortable saying the N-word in front of her, then what else does the girl have on her mind. The thing that was so disturbing was how comfortable she felt saying it. The girl defended herself by saying that her boyfriend was Black, so she’s not racist. So my friend said, “Would you use that language in front of his mother or grandmother?” The girl said that his mother wasn’t black, he was mixed. That logic amazed me. My friend tried to tell the girl how disrespectful that was and that as a young woman she needs to think about what she says. I am sure in that girl’s mind we were two Black women with attitudes, so I wonder how much did it sink it. We did not appreciate hearing the N-word appropriated by some teeny-boppers who don’t know the gravity of that word. We did not appreciate having to be confronted with that type of issue when all we wanted to do was relax and catch up. But somehow this young woman felt that it was okay to use the N-word within ear shot of two Black women. Who said it was okay? Was it her boyfriend or some of their Black female friends that gave them a pass? Did one of their friends tell them, “Hey you’re one of us, so you can use the N-word around us.” Guess what my friends, none of us are authorized to give out that pass. We ned to think about the gravity of our words when we say them. We need to hold ourselves and others accountable for what they say and how it can affect others.

Full

I woke up this morning happy. I felt full…warm and safe. Then there was a bitter sweet moment as I thought about how my life will change dramatically. I thought about what I’d have to let go. In a few weeks, I will take an intensive course for 6 weeks. Then, two weeks after that I will leave the country for the hustle and bustle of Cairo. My naive dreams of longing will be held in suspension. I can’t pack up those that I care about and bring them with me. No more 40 minute drives to the place where I grew up. I will be thousands of miles from my mom’s the plum, orange, and lemon tress. No long rides along scenic windy highway 280 to San Francisco or 580 to Oakland or Berkeley. I’ll be far from the high tech Martin Luther King Library and shrimp tacos and chicken qesadillas at Iguanas on 3rd street in San Jose. I’ll miss the smells of the ocean. I’ll miss the expanse of the Pacific and driving on bridges that span the Bay. More than anything, I’ll miss the sun streaming in my window filtering through the white comforter that envelops me in a waking dream. The bittersweet moment passed and the joy of being took over. This morning, I laid in bed suspended between the world of dreams and world of conscious action. As I drifted in and out, the lines between those worlds blurred. Wishful…dreaming…feeling…full…feeling…me…like myself again.

Language Wars: Don’t talk about people in your language assuming they don’t understand

I cut a several inches off my hair, which means the volume is kind of high. So I was sitting on the train. Two youths who clearly were followers of the hyphey movement (dreads and gold fronts and all) passed by with a lame pick up line, “Oh, damn, Erica Badu!” One goaded the other to try to holla, but I guess they thought wisely against it. The signs were all there that both were likely to get shut down because I had that granola-organic-natural-positive-sistah vibe. I don’t really buy it, cause maybe it was just San Francisco and the fog blew out my flat iron. Anyways, that wasn’t the point of the story. The point of the story is about languages and the assumption that people don’t understand.

So, a few stops down. Two Mexican-American men. I’m not sure if they received the hyphen and were naturalized citizens. But they passed by. My Spanish is rusty, but I understood much of what they said. “Where are we going to sit?” “Here! Here! Behind the Black girl!” “She has a lot of hair.” “She’s pretty” They made a few more comments about my hair and giggled like school girls.

During my first week as a waitress years back, I remember one of the bussers asking our co-worker “Te gustas la morena?” (Do you like the dark girl). Our co-worker responded, “No.” For the year that I worked there, I was La Morena. And when my friend came to work there, they were stumped to find her a name because she was black to. I didn’t tell them right away that I spoke some Spanish. The guys used to cuss us out in Spanish and smile in our face. I understood the foulness coming out of their mouth and at first pretended to ignore them. Then I began the wordplay and mind games in the kitchen language that was a blend between English and Spanish.

It seems as if many Spanish speakers forget that Spanish is taught in high schools. Some of us picked up Spanish from friends and caretakers. In California, Mexican Americans seem to assume that if you are black you can’t possibly know Spanish. I guess it escapes them that there are Panamanians and Dominicans who are black. Besides, sometimes even when you don’t understand what people are saying, you can often detect that they are talking about you.

Middle Easterners should take heed. For example, more and more Americans are learning Arabic. Even though I only know limited colloquial Arabic, I often know enough to know if an Arab is talking about me. My Turkish boss told me that one time, he and a friend were talking about an American woman in Turkish. The woman then told them off in Turkish. She learned Turkish because she had married a Turk. They learned their lesson to assume that a blond haired blue eyed, Northern European looking woman could not understand the lewdness that was spewing from their mouths.

Asians are not immune. They often talk about us Black folks right in front of us. One of my friends returned a video at DeAnza college. Two Vietnamese girls working at the desk cracked some jokes about the guy. He then told them in perfect Vietnamese that his mother was Vietnamese. He then told them, they never tell by someone’s looks if they know Vietnamese and that it was rude to talk about someone in front of them.

I have traveled abroad where few people spoke English. One time in Morocco, a bunch of us girls were chatting in a packed taxi with other passengers. One Moroccan young man told us to shut up. Maybe we were annoying and loud. But perhaps there was an anxiety that we were talking about him and the other Moroccan men. I admit that the anxiety comes from a real place. But, I have never said condescending statements, objectified someone, or ridiculed a non-English speaker in English right in front of their faces. It’s rude and disrespectful and widens the gaps that divide us all.

Muslim Guy Shortage!?

Hmmmm, I’ve been blogging about this for awhile now.

A SISTER WRITES:

“I’ve noticed in our Muslim communities that there are plenty of single, religious, educated, Muslim sisters, yet there is a great lack of like-minded brothers available for marriage. Thus, we have sisters in their late 20’s and 30’s who desire to get married but cannot find a suitable prospective.”

Why do you think this is the case? Is it due to the Muslim brothers not bothering about the Deen so they are not at par with active, religious sisters? Or do you think it’s a demographical problem? What do you think?

JOIN MECCAONE THIS THURSDAY WITH IMAM ZAID SHAKIR, UM HASSAN, AND YOU, THE LISTENERS FOR AN IMPORTANT DISCUSSION, DEBATE, & DIALOGUE!

Thursday, March 8th, 2007
5-6pm on 90.5 FM KSJS San Jose, CA
Live World-Wide
CALL IN LIVE! 408.924.5757

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Prison Da’wa and Marriage to ex-cons

You see, Muslim women are like women all over the world, we have a lot to worry about. How do you know if you’ve actually fallen in love with a child molester, wife beater, womanizer, or emotionally abusive man? There are often signs and we often ignore them. Maybe we all need to do a background check. But what if a brother’s background is less than perfect? I think this is an issue Black Muslim women deal with more than anybody. We have a lot of infrastructure to proselytize to incarcerated men. And the conversion rates are pretty promising. Many men who convert while in prison really struggle with their deen once released into society.

The problem that I have with the prison system is that it is not there to reform people. Instead, it is a brutal system that brings the worst out of people. Taking shahadah wipes away someone’s previous sins, but it doesn’t erase niggerish tendencies. That takes a lot of work. And man, it’s a struggle out here. I mean, I know Malcolm X was an ex-con, but that was Malcolm X. You know what I mean?

There are some hard brothas who are released from prison who have straight beef with the whole womenkind. For those brothas that like to box women, maybe they need some women who can box dudes. I don’t know if they do dawa in women’s prison. I think they should. Maybe they can get a Michelle Rodrigues to take them on or what’s her name from “Million Dollar Baby.” I know it isn’t just converts and ex-cons who beat their wives. I’ve heard of brothers asking about how big can the miswack be to hit their wives. Maybe they were joking, but that shit isn’t funny. And the Muslims women’s shelter gets all sorts of abuse and death threats from angry husbands, fathers, and brothers. I don’t know the exact figures that could possibly correlate rates of incarceration with domestic abuse. But if somebody knows, get back at me.

As an African American convert, I think I’ve had to deal with this issue more than any of my Middle Eastern, North African, South Asian, white, and Asian counterparts. You see, I grew up in East San Jose and attanded the Muslim Community Association in Santa Clara. Very middle class and affluent and immigrant oriented. A few of my second generation immigrants friends would tell me that I’d find my ideal match in East Oakland. That’s where Masjid al-Islam is and a lot of angry brothers would be there. Sure, they looked a lot better than many of the pasty engineers in Silicon Valley. But were they ideal matches? A number of them sold incense and oils. I remember when this one North African sister from East Oakland pumping up this other African American brother who had asked for me. Like many of my non-Black friends, any guy was a good match–as long as he was Black. She was like, “Gurrrrrrl, he has his own business.” It turned out that he sold books, but this wasn’t a Barnes and Nobles operation. It was one of those book stands you see set up next to the incense and oils stand in some Flea Market (not even Berryessa but the smaller more rundown Ashby bart variety). Now, this was a little bit much for me. I would get in arguments with my friends who would make a case for marrying one of these struggling brothers. They would advocate for them. We should only look at religion, if the brother prayed, if he was a good Muslim, etc…. But meanwhile their fathers made sure that only doctors and engineers couls step to them. They would also introduce their white convert friends to the doctors and engineers. They’d tell me, “but there’s plenty of brothas for you up in Oakland, Aziza.” Meanwhile, masjid al-Islam became the bastion for polygamy and these brothers were pulling one, two, maybe even three wives. I guess I was too ambitious to throw myself into a cycle of poverty. Maybe the brother who asked for me got it together, I pray that Allah grant him tawfeeq. But I thought about practical things like being able to pay rent, health insurance, paying tuition so I could get a degree in community college and make a contribution to my family. I think that the brother discovered Islam while in prison. I don’t think he had been out that long and the selling of books was this big push towards the entreprenurial spirit.

Okay, let me get this straight. I know I’m kind of a square, but I used to run the streets a bit and I’m familiar with the whole thug lifestyle. Back in highschool thugs were in and getting locked up was sort of a rite of passage. My mom put a block on our phone to prevent prison collect calls from my homeboys or boyfriends. So I would get the lame three-way calls or requests to make three way calls to call somebody’s people. Nowadays, you can’t click over and use three way. So anybody locked up calling my mom’s house is pretty assed out. Anyways, for some of us ladies could deny the appeal of a brother who had been locked down. Usually they come out all swoll and muscles cut from benching, pull-ups, push-ups and sit ups all day. I don’t know if they look the same since they’ve banned weights in the yard. Brothers come out of prison well read and articulate and seem so motivated. All they had to do all day was work on their Islam. But then they get out, no support, no one will hire them, bougie–and especially immigrant–girls won’t marry them. And I have just never been in a place in my life where I can carry a brother through the fire.

I used to have long conversations/arguments about this issue when one of my friends would try to push off the surplus of struggling brothers from Oakland. One friend was especially dismissive of my concerns (Perhaps she was playing devil’s advocate). I developed a motto, “No incense and oils sellers!” Not any disrespect to any brothers who have a hustle and make it work for them. I guess there was little recourse for me, being that I came into Islam in a predominately immigrant community, and little recourse for them. When I was 20, I just had one simple requirement, that the brother have an associates or at least be a junior in college, with some job skills. Otherwise, how was the brother going to hold down a family?

Muslim brothers use all sorts of innovative techniques for giving dawa to pretty women they encounter in the work place, on the street, and in their social circles. They’re not giving dawa to women on skid row. They are not giving dawah to women in correctional facilities. They are not giving dawa in halfway houses. So, that means, that the community is not really dealing with as many women who need help reintergrating into society. In fact, it means that Muslim men have better options for suitable matches. On top of that, Muslim men a clearly not limited to Muslim women. They can marry Christian and Jewish women. I know of a number that marry Buddhist, Pagan, Wiccan, Agnostic, and Atheist. This doesn’t inlude the foreign brothers who go abroad marry some poor hapless women who knows nothing about American society and lives isolated thousands of miles away from her friends and family. When you add it all up, level headed brothers actually become rare commodities. I know a lot of Muslim women who are actually opting out of marriage because it is such a headache.

I know brothas are doing some serious dawa work as prison chaplans and whatnot. But for reals though…can yall do some dawah to brothas with jobs for some of us sisters. So, please even up the chances for sistas by working on your male friends, co-workers, and assocites who don’t have super long rap sheets and records that prevent them from working. I know way too many on-point sisters who are wont to find a suitable partner. There’s a Medical School, Business School and Law School just walking distance from me. I can show you right where they are at, or you can Google Map it. Set your dawa table right across the quad. I’ll support yall. We gotta balance out things the demographics. Also, let’s hook up the struggling brothers. Maybe we sistas need to work on some dawa for the ladies in the correctional facilities, aka the industrial prison complex.

Diseases of the Heart–Narcissism

I just read that today’s college students are more narcissistic than their earlier counterparts (Study: College Students More Narcissistic ). It reminds me of a talk that Dr. Robert Frager, a noted pyschologist and Sufi, gave last year about the diseases of the heart. During that lecture, I remember a deep fear sinking into the pit of my stomach. It was not for me, even though I have a whole bunch of personal work, but for a friend that I no longer speak to. Frager mentioned that a person with a diseased heart hates criticism even when the criticism is to help them actualize the person they are truly meant to be. Frager also stated that this type of person is afraid of intimacy and therefore cannot get close anyone. After hearing this talk, I really wanted to be there for my friend. I really wanted to have a real conversation about what I learned. But it never happened. Which is best because I probably would have been attacked regardless of my intentions. It makes me sad, because I truly believe in that person and believe that they can make a world of difference if they stopped surrounding themselves by people who only gave them adulation and ignored their shortcomings. We are often able to see the flaws in others, but rarely in ourselves. Yet I am one of those hyper self-critical people; I am aware of my flaws, but find it difficult to overcome them. I know narcissism when I see it, because I’ve developed antibodies for it. And one only has such antibodies if they have been afflicted with this pathology at one point or another. I state this humbly. There is no benefit in me being self-righteous.

Narcissism

use their looks to get what they want, is able to plan and work towards goals successfully, loves themself, optimistic, sparkling, achiever, self promoting, self assured, success driven, thinks they can charm anyone, ambitious, elegant, thinks they are better looking than most people (which they may or may not be), believes that they are special, more a leader than a follower, believes that other people are envious of them, loves to win awards, fits in most places, seductive, purposeful, believes in success through appearances, assertive, goal oriented, would love to have buildings and monuments named after them, believes they deserve all the good things they have, likes to be popular

Narcissism – Global Advanced Trait Descriptions

NARCISSISM (n. sing.)

A pattern of traits and behaviours which signify infatuation and obsession with one’s self to the exclusion of all others and the egotistic and ruthless pursuit of one’s gratification, dominance and ambition.

Narcissism is named after the ancient Greek myth of Narcissus who was a handsome Greek youth who rejected the desperate advances of the nymph Echo. In punishment of his cruelty, he was doomed to fall in love with his own reflection in a pool of water. Unable to consummate his love, he pined away and changed into the flower that bears his name to this very day.

WHAT IS NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder)?

The Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) has been recognized as a seperate mental health disorder in the third edition of the Diagnostic and Statistics Manual (DSM) in 1980. Its diagnostic criteria and their interpretation have undergone a major revision in the DSM III-R (1987) and were substantially revamped in the DSM IV in 1994. The European ICD-10 basically contains identical language.

An all-pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behaviour), need for admiration or adulation and lack of empathy, usually beginning by early adulthood and present in various contexts. Five (or more) of the following criteria must be met:

Feels grandiose and self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents to the point of lying, demands to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)

Is obsessed with fantasies of unlimited success, fame, fearsome power or omnipotence, unequalled brilliance (the cerebral narcissist), bodily beauty or sexual performance (the somatic narcissist), or ideal, everlasting, all-conquering love or passion

Firmaly convinced that he or she is unique and, being special, can only be understood by, should only be treated by, or associate with, other special or unique, or high-status people (or institutions)

Requires excessive admiration, adulation, attention and affirmation -or, failing that, wishes to be feared and to be notorious (narcissistic supply).

Feels entitled. Expects unreasonable or special and favourable priority treatment. Demands automatic and full compliance with his or her expectations

Is “interpersonally exploitative”, i.e., uses others to achieve his or her own ends
Devoid of empathy. Is unable or unwilling to identify with or acknowledge the feelings and needs of others

Constantly envious of others or believes that they feel the same about him or her
Arrogant, haughty behaviours or attitudes coupled with rage when frustrated, contradicted, or confronted.

The language in the criteria above is based on or summarized from:

American Psychiatric Association. (1994). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders, fourth edition (DSM IV). Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.

Sam Vaknin. (1999). Malignant Self Love – Narcissism Revisited, first edition. Prague and Skopje: Narcissus Publication. (“Malignant Self Love – Narcissism Revisited” http://www.geocities.com/vaksam/faq1.html )

More Data About Pathological Narcissists

Most narcissists (75%) are men.
NPD (=the Narcissistic Personality Disorder) is one of a “family” of personality disorders (formerly known as “Cluster B”). Other members: Borderline PD, Antisocial PD and Histrionic PD.
NPD is often diagnosed with other mental health disorders (“co-morbidity”) – or with substance abuse, or impulsive and reckless behaviours (“dual diagnosis”).
NPD is new (1980) mental health category in the Diagnostic and Statistics Manual (DSM).
There is only scant research regarding narcissism. But what there is has not demonstrated any ethnic, social, cultural, economic, genetic, or professional predilection to NPD.
It is estimated that 0.7-1% of the general population suffer from NPD.
Pathological narcissism was first described in detail by Freud. Other major contributors are: Klein, Horney, Kohut, Kernberg, Millon, Roningstam, Gunderson, Hare.
The onset of narcissism is in infancy, childhood and early adolescence. It is commonly attributed to childhood abuse and trauma inflicted by parents, authority figures, or even peers.
There is a whole range of narcissistic reactions – from the mild, reactive and transient to the permanent personality disorder.
Narcissists are either “Cerebral” (derive their narcissistic supply from their intelligence or academic achievements) – or “Somatic” (derive their narcissistic supply from their physique, exercise, physical or sexual prowess and “conquests”).
Narcissists are either “Classic” – see definition below – or they are “Compensatory”, or “Inverted” – see definitions here: “The Inverted Narcissist” – http://www.geocities.com/vaksam/faq66.html
NPD is treated in talk therapy (psychodynamic or cognitive-behavioural). The prognosis for an adult narcissist is poor, though his adaptation to life and to others can improve with treatment. Medication is applied to side-effects and behaviours (such as mood or affect disorders and obsession-compulsion) – usually with some success.

The narcissistic individuals that I know usually have a hubris whirling around them. There are many narcissists who are attractive, and use their looks and charm to manipulate others. Then there many narcissists that are highly attractive individuals, not in the physical sense, but have alluring qualities that appeal to others in a non-sexual way. They draw people to them because they are purpose driven and charismatic. They wouldn’t want to live their lives any other way. They like to be in the center of action–making things happen. Some of us get sucked in because we want to help, but they are selling a pipe dream that is corrupted by their own misguidance. Sometimes we can navigate their social pathologies and get something done, but often their larger than life egos get in the way. Mental illness and diseases of the heart are unlike other diseases. You can’t contract them. But I have never seen a narcissist cured. It is especially tragic to see Muslim narcissists because our traditions have diagnosed this disease and have a treatment to help treat those who are afflicted.

Some narcissists are humbled, but it is usually in old age, maybe after a stroke or something, but that is after leaving a whole path of destruction in their wake. They cause a world of hurt and have little empathy for those they leave damaged. They don’t recognize that they are sick, nor do the people who are loyal to them and condone their behavior. Those who are hurt by narcissists need to recognize that the perpetrators are truly sick individuals. Instead of being angry, we should feel sorry for them and their self delusions.

It is important for all of us to understand this disorder because narcissists are usually quick to place themselves in positions of leadership or power in our communities.

Al-Bukhari and Muslim have reported on the authority ofAbdullah ibn Umar that the Messenger of Allah (saw) said: “Truly, Allah will not take away knowledge by snatching it away from people, but by taking away the lives of the people of knowledge one by one until none of them survive. Then the people will adopt ignorant ones as their leaders. They will be asked to deliver judgements and they will give them without knowledge, with the result that they will go astray and lead others astray.”

When ‘Ubadah ibn as-Samit was asked about this hadith he said: If you want, I will tell you what the highest knowledge is, which raises people in rank: it is humility.”

He said this because there are two types of knowledge. The first produces its fruit in the heart. It is knowledge of Allah, the Exalted – His Names, His Attributes, and
His Acts – which commands fear, respect, exaltation, love, supplication and reliance on Him. this is the beneficial type of knowledge. As ibn Mas’ud said: “they will recite the Qur’an, but it will not go beyond their throats. The Qur’an is only
beneficial when it reaches the heart and is firmly planted in it.”

Some communities are able to isolate the narcissists. And other narcissists display behavior that is so transgressive and destructive that everyone has enough sense not to place them in positions of power. Still narcissists often have a circle of followers. They may be the dissenters in a community, raising a ruckus for whatever reason. Sometimes, they are productive and can be useful vehicles for doing good works. Though if not reigned in, they can reverse all those positive gains. Often, those that are under direct influence of these sick individuals are left hurt and feel manipulated. Sometimes the machinations of a narcissist can have ruinous effects and be detrimental to the mental stability of those who try to help them and their causes. In their pain, the victims develop other diseases of the heart:depression and despair or jealousy and envy.

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.”

It is important that we recognize the diseases of the heart, such as narcissism, as they manifest themselves in our communities. Narcissists often warp shari’ah to suit their own purposes by bending the rules and apply them according to their whims. They participate in events or do certain things (frequenting the masjid, giving talks, hosting events, leading ‘movements’) to win adulation and respect from members of the community as opposed to doing it from the goodness of their own hearts.

They do shocking things just to be in the center of attention. And because they are our brothers and sisters, we often have a high toleration for them. It is important to recognize narcissism as a disease and not try to make sense of the absurdities and inconsistencies that exist in their lives. We can’t rationalize the irrational. We’ll drive ourselves crazy trying to make sense of their madness. Instead, we just have to chalk it up to the disease and then move on.

I am writing this because I believe each one of us has been affected by someone who is narcissitic. We may have loved ones, a father, brother, son, mother, sister, aunt, uncle, cousin, friend, husband, or wife, who is one. If you don’t know of one, then you should really assess your own behavior and see if you have narcissistic traits. Here’s the Online NPA test . If you find yourself rating high on the test, perhaps you should do some serious work on purifying your heart and curing yourself of this debilitating disease. So, whether you are Sunni, Shi’i, Sufi, or Salafi, and even for those who are not Muslim, there is something that we can learn from tassawuf, purification of the heart.

It’s Real Dammit

My mind is sorta fried after a marathon writing and revising session. Still have a ton of data to add to my research, but it is coming along. So, I decided I’m going to write about some superficial stuff, but it has been on my mind.

I posted a picture on facebook showing a look I used to have. I was going through this phase, listening to lots of electronica, feeling all alternative. I was also bored with my hair which at the time I wore straight more often than curly and decided to go with bangs. Being that I’m obsessed with eyebrows, I couldn’t bring myself to cover them with bangs so I went with short bangs. The first day at work, they looked strange. But my co-worker who was a washed up musician in an Ohio industrial band (He even went on a double date with Trent Resnor to a Prince concert. How cool is that) sorta peeped the look and was like, “Hey that’s a cool Betty Paige Look.” But it wasn’t banging, so I went back and cut them shorter till I achieved this ultra cool retro look. Black people didn’t get it, but a lot of other people liked it. But having short bangs was annoying when I wanted to go natural. I had to wear a head band.

So, I posted this pic with my Betty paige bangs from when I was an undergrad. And at this gathering, my home boy was like, “I have a question, in that pic with the Betty Paige bangs was that a wig?” This was suprising coming from him. One time at this BBQ, another brotha who was staring at my big hair asked me if it was real. And my home boy was like, “Of course its real.” But this time with the bangs, he was like, it doesn’t look real.

Since I was in junior high, I’ve had a lot of negative attention about my hair. When I graduated, I was teased as I walked the stage. They were like, “BUSH! Busshhhhhhhhhh” I remember going to a track meet during my freshman year, the two rival schools with the biggest track teams, and a chorus of guys began singing, “Ewwwwwww is it really your hair? Is it really a weave? Is it really your hair?” Hair? Weave? Hair? Weave?” Do you remember that song? Anyways, it was totally humiliating, because I tried to do everything to make my hair look more real. I eventually cut off almost all of my hair. But as it grew out, it just looked like a mop. It just sorta looked like a short wig. Oh well.

A few years later when it had all grown back, I had some girls who had beef with me say, “She thinks she’s all that because she has all that hair.” Some girls tried to jump my best friend and cut off all her hair. Its crazy like that sometimes.

When I wore my hair natural, people thought I had a Jerri curl. I went back to straight because the curl wasn’t crackin then. When I had my hair staight other females would go up to my friends and ask them what was up with my wig. Some people said because it wasn’t straight straight, like bone straight that it looked fake. So, I would spend hours flat ironing my hair to make it thinner, smoother, less rattier looking. I became obsessive about my hair being bone straight.

One day, I realized how ridiculous it was. I was in a period of transition and knew I wanted to practice Islam. People saw me go through this transition. And some brotha said, “No, don’t cover your hair you are the only black girl that has long hair!!” Of course, I thought that was crazy and I had friends who had big heads of hair to hold it down for the sistas. Me, I was committed to the cause. No more questions about fake hair for the 5 years that I covered.

So five years later, when I decided to uncover my hair was like waist length. So, I was kinda freaked out. And I wasn’t really used to lots of male attention, so that was extra wierd. Within a few months, the questions came again. Somebody said the other day that any black woman who has long hair is suspect. Ain’t that something? I’m not knockin sistas for rockin weaves. White girls do it too, they just aren’t suspected as much as sistas. But on the subject of realness, I have had a number of things questioned. Things that are me, but people tend to call into question.

Are those your real nails?
Is that all your hair?
Are those your boobs or did you get a boob job?
And couple of times, people asked me if I had contacts because my eyes are brown and not black.

I have had people comment on my nails and say that I am vain. People comment on my display of gratuitious cleavage. People, i can’t wear half tank tops, blouses, and tops in stores because I’ll look like a stripper. But I’m not going to hide them by appearing overweight. This is my hair my crazy hair that sheds all over the place. NO, it’s not a french manicure, but the way my nails just grow. So don’t try to lecture me about nail polish and wudu. My great grandmother was a wet nurse and these mammary glands are inherited. I don’t feel like I need to be self conscious about what was given natural. It just bothers me when I have to constantly justify just being the way I am.

And if people can look through the superficial things that have come into question, they’ll see me: Just me…trying to be real, trying to enjoy being real.