Tuesday, February 28, 2006

black comic books

For those that don't know, Storm and Black Panther, two of the longest running (not completely tokenized and stereotypical) Black superheroes in the Marvel universe will be getting married this summer.
For Storm and Black Panther, it's my big fat superhero wedding
Reginald Hudlin & Eric Dickey Talk about Black Panther/Storm Wedding

And in order to maintain some sort of cosmic balance in the Black comic book world, Universal Press Syndicate confirmed today that Aaron McGruder will go on hiatus from the Boondocks strip beginning March 27, hopefully resuming the strip in October.

Monday, February 27, 2006

islam and afrocentrism

Over at Garvey's Ghost, Sondjata wrote a piece called afrocentricity and islam which was a response to a Grenada entry: islam and the african people. Unfortunately, comments don't seem to be working at Garvey's Ghost or else I would probably make my points over there. But what I would respectfully argue is that in at least a few a cases Sondjata is mistaken in his attempts to refute the original article (For example, some comments he attributes to Uthman Dan Fodio really were made by Cheikh Anta Diop). And in any case, the larger point is basically untouched: that various major Afrocentric scholars mentioned really did have a number of positive things to say regarding Islam's role in African history. And I would add that the best argument (at least, the best argument I can easily make right now) in favor of the fact that a strong Black and African identity is totally compatible with Islam is just the Third Resurrection blog and all the articles posted over there. Islam's roots in the Black world are just too deep to give the Black Orientalist position too much credibility. Islam has had links to Africa and Black people from the very beginning and it is sily to argue that it is in any sense unAfrican.

why is halliburton building internment camps?

alt.muslim: Why Is Halliburton Building Internment Camps?

don't know what else to say

Common Dreams: The Case for Closing Guantanamo is Overwhelming
Common Dreams: Guantanamo: American Gulag
Alt.Muslim: A Harsher Light Shines on Guantanamo Bay

clashing sensibilities

In These Times: Islam vs. the West: Clashing Sensibilities by Salim Muwakkil.

I generally like Salim Muwakkil's writings, but this time I wonder what he's thinking. On the cartoon controversy he says:

...this increasingly rancorous dispute does pit two foundational principles against each other: Islam’s proscription against portraying its Prophet, and the West’s reverence of free expression. Muslims have a religious obligation to take offense at “desecration” of Islam, while Western nations feel compelled to speak up in protection of free speech.

But in the wake of David Irving being sentenced to three years imprisonment for his views on the Holocaust (and being barred from even entering several European countries before then) I'm not sure that anyone can say with a straight face that the cartoon controversy is about Western commitment to free speech.

the south park where chef becomes muslim

This is the episode where Chef decides to protest the flag of South Park because of its racist overtones (undertones, through-tones) and along the way becomes Muslim and changes his name to Abdul Mohammed Jabar-Rauf Kareem Ali.
The above link died but here is a replacement: Chef Goes Nanners

without boundary: seventeen ways of looking

Currently the Museum of Modern Art in New York is displaying an exhibition: "Without Boundary: Seventeen Ways of Looking" — in which the word Islam does not appear. Nevertheless, all but three of the featured artists were born in some part of the so-called Islamic world: Algeria, Egypt, India, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Pakistan, Palestine and Turkey. They all live and work in the West and have made their careers in the mainstream international art scene, which means in Europe and the United States. Despite their Western positioning, they are routinely tagged as Islamic artists by an art world addicted to marketable categories.

The exhibition is discussed further in the NYT Arts section article, What Does Islam Look Like? And for more on the creations of Muslim artists working in a Western context check out:
muslim artists look back at the west
contemporary art from the islamic world

All three links give a more complex picture the Muslim world which contrasts with the iconoclasm which is more well-known (especially in the wake of things like the recent cartoon issue or the Buddha statues in Afghanistan)

Sunday, February 26, 2006

octavia butler died

Wow, I actually first found out about her passing from the Woman of Color Blog. For those that don't know, Butler was one of the few African-American science fiction writers of prominence. She's been awarded both Hugo and Nebula award (the top prizes in science fiction) as well as a MacArthur award (a "genius grant"). The only novels of hers which I've read are Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents but both were amazing. Apparently she had started a third novel in the series called Parable of the Trickster, but never finished. She will be missed.

Grenada's Past:

masking new orleans

In Masking New Orleans, Fatima Shaik makes the connection between the Mardis Gras or Carnival custom of wearing masks and the ways in which some are trying to hide difficult truths about New Orleans in the wake of Katrina.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

project censored

If you haven't heard of it already Projecet Censored is a 30 year-old media research group out of Sonoma State University which tracks the news published in independent journals and newsletters. From these, Project Censored compiles an annual list of 25 news stories of social significance that have been overlooked, under-reported or self-censored by the country's major national news media. Archives of past "censored" stories are available at the site.

manifest liberation: the four gates

Even more from Amir Sulaiman (see also manifest liberation: virtue vs. vice)

In the Name of The One

Manifest Liberation is:

To Liberate Ones Self from Illusion
The world of illusion is the world of non-existence. In order to be effective, to move forward with high intent, one must be with Truth. How may one realize what is not real? How may one actualize what is not actual? In order to realize, to actualize, or to manifest ones liberation, one must be free from illusion and submit totally to Truth.

To Purify the Self
To truly purify ones self, ones purification must occur spiritually and physically, individually and collectively, internally and externally. Every self that has lived and will live is part of one Self, the Human Being. The lesser self is what allows the notion of ego and the greater Self is the collective consciousness that binds the Human Being together as one. One may not purify the self without purifying the Self nor may one purify the Self without purifying the self.

To Perfect Character
To perfect character is to perfect ones relationships. To perfect relationships is to perfect ones relationship between one and ones self, one and other selves, one and ones environment, and one and The One.

To Battle
To manifest ones liberation one must wage an unceasing war against vice and the vicious, against malice and the malicious, and against oppression and oppressors. Only through battle may the Self be free of the illusory shackles that bind the hands and restrain the mind. Only through battle, may one gain liberation and ensure sovereignty for virtue and the virtuous

the myth of la's race war

From Alternet: The Myth of L.A.'s Race War Former gang members say the violent Los Angeles jail riots aren't about race; they're about power, struggle and pain. See also: one people

re-examining the left hand of god

From Alternet: Re-examining 'The Left Hand of God' looks again at Michael Lerner's ideas and focuses on the religio-phobia of many secular progressives. See also: the left hand of god

Friday, February 24, 2006

manifest liberation: virtue vs. vice

I recently saw Amir Sulaiman perform some of his poetry so he's been on my mind. And since I've already blogged on him before, I thought it would make sense to share a larger sampling of some of his thinking. The following is from a piece of his called virtue vs. vice.

Freedom is in the soul, heart and mind. It is also in the limbs, land and wealth. The most important part of liberation is in the soul, hearts and minds of the people. Of lesser importance is the limbs, land and wealth of the people. If the limbs are free to move about as they like and money is available but the soul, heart and mind are still property of the oppressor then there is no hope for true manifest liberation. On the other hand, if the limbs are chained and the wealth is confiscated but the soul, heart and mind know and long for freedom then there is still hope for full manifest liberation. The freedom fighter needs only to fight to be free. Victory in any traditional sense of the term may come but is not necessary. The first gesture of revolt is a sufficient indication that the soul and heart are free from the system that oppresses. As all change, revolution begins in the soul as aimless nameless restlessness. Its energy works up until freedom condenses onto the walls of the mind. The intellect crystallizes it into the language of the people and all together like a mountain avalanche they come crashing down upon the gates of Empire.

It is faulty to think that the oppressed people of the world will enjoy manifest liberation by way of songs, poems, and letters to congressmen. The empire will not fall by way of hemp bracelets and long hair. The yokes will not be lifted by way of slogans and pamphlets. Manifest liberation will not be voted into office. Are we to think that simply because an oppressor received less votes than another that he will simply relinquish his power? The reason an oppressor is an oppressor is that he does not care for the beliefs and opinions of the people only the labor and wealth of the people. In the psyche of an oppressor, there is absolutely no occasion when he will willingly surrender his power. Throughout history, tyrants surrender not at the end of an open forum discussion but at the hot end of a rifle. They give back what they have taken only under the supervision of a sharp sword with its promise of retribution hovering above their neck.

It is equally faulty to think that the oppressed people of the world will enjoy manifest liberation only by way of bullets, Molotov cocktails and car bombs. Even if the people burned the White House to the ground tomorrow, the ills of society will not be rendered aright. Are we to think that a righteous society will be established by those with wicked ways? If the oppressed do not purify themselves of dishonesty, greed, lust, jealously, fear, envy and the other vices that plague the human family then there can be no real success. There may be a change of flag and a change of leadership but oppression will still loom over the heads of the powerless.

Often the oppressed adopt the maliciousness of the oppressor. When the oppressed do so, they help proliferate the oppressor’s agenda. The oppressed who have accepted the diseased ways of the tyrants spread the virus of mischief and corruption like a contagion. In a strange yet common twist of fate, the oppressed are infected with oppression by the oppressors and inevitably the oppressed oppress. Then those who are oppressed by the oppressed oppressors, once infected with the virus of oppression, seek out others to oppress. What this creates is an endless wheel of coercion that cannot be broken except with an individual, independent commitment to prefer virtue to vice and justice to tyranny. Very few will have the foresight and courage to do such a thing but they will do so because that is their destiny. These brave virtuous souls are what constitute a true liberation front. They are the precious invaluable vanguard of righteousness. This group is rare but always arises. Just as sure as oppression will raise its ugly head this vanguard of purified souls will be there to smite it off. These souls inspire other souls towards success as that is their reason for being. Once the people purify their ranks, even if they number few, they can expect triumph.

No matter the battle strategy and no matter the weaponry the unjust will not and cannot establish justice. No matter the leadership and no matter the number of followers those given to vice will not and cannot establish virtue. This is the irresistible, irrefutable reality of universal law. To try to transcend it is futile and to ignore it is foolish. There will be no freedom for the oppressed one who oppresses others. There is no dignity for the humiliated one who humiliates others. With virtue comes liberation as with vice comes oppression. This is the only way. This is not a new method; this is true way since the first to come from the loins of Adam and it will be the true way until vice is wiped from the planet Earth.

Liberation will come by way of the spirited songs and sharpened swords. It will come by way of the scholar’s ink and the martyr’s blood. It will come by the way of the righteous soul and the firm hand. For the one who truly fights for Truth and Justice, firstly and forevermore must know that high virtue is what promises victory and lowly vice is what assures defeat.

Amir Sulaiman's myspace blog
more amir sulaiman
Manifest Liberation

Thursday, February 23, 2006

our black shining prince

Tuesday was the anniversary of the assassination of Malcolm X. Keep him in your thoughts by looking at Izzy Mo's post El-Hajj Malik as-Shabazz over at Third Resurrection

the good kind of fatwa

Umm Yasmin over at Dervish recently posted a Declaration of Fatwa by World Islamic Scholars about Danish Cartoons. But of course, this raises the eternal question: In the popular imagination, which will be seen as more representative of Islam, a clear, decisive unified statement by dozens of Islamic leaders from around the world? Or the violent actions of a few thugs?

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

an opinion on the riots

Brownfemipower recently posted An Opinion on the Riots which puts alot of this recent issue in perspective. In essence, what she says is, "it is the height of hypocrisy that the Western world is calling Arabs/Muslims violent barbarians for rebelling against the representation being used by violent occupiers to justify that violent occupation."

and also there is:
the dirty dozen
everyone has their sacred cows
shouting "fire" on a crowded planet
clash of the uncivilized: insights on the cartoon controversy
why muslims get mad
cartoon protests reach latin america

un calls guantanamo a us torture camp

I honestly don't know what to say anymore. I already had one blog entry from last week when an earlier draft of the UN report was released. Now the final draft of that report came out but the response is not really surprising.

US: Did not.
UN: Did too.
US: Did not!
UN: Did too!
US: Did not!...

Yahoo News: U.N. Calls Guantanamo a U.S. Torture Camp
earlier entry: treatment of guantanamo prisoners constitutes torture

new to the blogroll

Rasa'il Khalil al-Wafa' is a blog by a PhD student at the University of Chicago who studies Arabic language and literature.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

brian gumbel is looking like malcolm x?

Brian Gumbell on the Winter Olympics:
Count me among those who don’t like them and won’t watch them ... So try not to laugh when someone says these are the world’s greatest athletes, despite a paucity of blacks that makes the Winter Games look like a GOP convention.

The Daily Cardinal: original story
from Dave Chappelle: negrodamus 1
from Common Dreams: White Blindness: The Winter Olympics and Defending Bryant Gumbel

"...being the last one around"

I feel funny about this post. And I would definitely welcome feedback from the female members of the audience (especially those who see themselves as progressive).

Over at Dervish, in the entry We're Outbreeding Them, Umm Yasmin talks about how in Australia some are arguing in favor of limiting access to the abortion pill RU486 on the grounds that the non-Muslim ("white"?) birth rates are already low, and that if current trends continue, Islam will be the dominant religion in Australia in 50 years or so.

The whole discussion reminds me of the old Last Poets piece called The Pill (included below) which raises some related issues. The border between birth/population control and genocide can sometimes be unclear. In certain contexts, there is a slippery-slope from saying "There are too many people" to saying "There are too many of those kind of people".

This also reminds me of some conversations I had a year ago with a Catholic friend of mine (who I actually have recently bumped into again) on birth control. "Obviously" the Catholic position on artificial methods of birth control (absolute prohibition) is different from the usual Muslim position (sterilization and other permanent methods are prohibited, but most other methods are ok). But if you also throw in the Orthodox Jewish position (Adam was commanded to "be fruitful and multiply" so male contraceptives are prohibited) it seems like, in spite of their differences, we can loosely say that these three "traditional" religions have an ethos where having children is prized and at least some forms of birth control are discouraged. (Although I would argue that if we look at the most orthodox forms of each religion, Islam is the most liberal... permitting most forms of birth control and giving limited approval of abortion)

For example, the hadith: "Get married and multiply (have children), because I will be proud of you, in front of other nations on the Day of Judgment"

The Pill

Are you aware of the pill?
Its basic design is to kill
The fertile womb
becomes a tomb
for a new child unborn still.

I say are you aware of the brute
Whose job is to wither the fruit?
They'll cause us to fall
our history and all
by cuttin' us off at the root

They say "We'll stunt Africa's growth.
And Asia has too many folks.
Too large is the mouth
in the Latin South
We'll aid 'em by cuttin' their throats."

"No, we must approach as a friend
and do our job from within.
Let's feed 'em the pill
that's made up to kill
and make their beginning their end."

So poor folks of the world, be aware.
For their evil design is laid bare.
Watch out for the hag
with the little black bag
Marked "Birth Control: Peace Corps and CARE"

It's part of a game that they play.
And it's designed to make poor people pay.
It's part of a lie
to help you to die
while they cart your resources away.

I say conspiracy is in the air
To control the children that you bear.
Control of the land
is a part of the plan
as your kind grows increasingly rare.

It's a truth to be understood
through at first it may appear good.
But it's a menace to health
and to lineal wealth,
Since you can't reproduce when you should.

And in this respect I am told
it is better to use self-control.
For the future and truth
belong to the youth,
since you cannot prevent growing old.

So make sure that your reasoning's sound
before taking that potion down.
For it would be a shame
to come into fame
for being the last one around.

The issue can get complicated. Just between you and me, I'm not really suggesting that family planning is some genocidal plot. I'm just saying that the important thing is to make sure that people are empowered with information and resources so that they can make their own choices. And this should be done in a genuinely balanced way. In a modern Western context, reproductive freedom is often framed as the right to NOT have children. But if the issue is REALLY about choice, then we also have to acknowledge the right TO have children as well.

Sunni Path (Hanafi): Is contraception permissible?
From Al-Balagh is the article Overpopulation: Myths, Facts, and Politics which I'm not sure if I'm endorsing but questions the concept of overpopulation.

Past Grenada entries:
the men will look like the women... relates the Last Poets to Islamic attitudes on transgenderism. And race and sex discusses an interesting link between feminism and white supremacist movements and also brings up (Planned Parenthood founder) Margaret Sanger's connection to the eugenics movement.

mosques are struggling

Two days ago, the St.Louis Post-Dispatch published a story called Mosques Are Struggling which gives a good snapshot of the challenges faced by many African-American Muslim communities.

america's "other" muslims

I just put up an article called America's Other Muslims by Peter Skerry over at Third Resurrection. For the most part it describes the (African-American Muslim) community of W.D. Mohammed and compares and contrasts them with other Blackamerican Muslims, Immigrant Muslims, the Nation of Islam and the larger society.

Monday, February 20, 2006

my private casbah

My Private Casbah is a blog I recently found by Bint Alshamsa (daughter of the sun). Based on some of her discussion on religion and other things brought up in her blog, I would guess that she's a Black ex-Bahai but to be honest I really don't know her precise background. In any case, she has an intriguing perspective on things.

the revelation will not be televised

From Radical Torah (a site which does Torah commentary from a "radical" perspective): The Revelation Will Not Be Televised gives an interesting Biblical take on one of the accounts which also appears in the Quran, namely the Exodus narrative.

one people

Gregory Kane's article about the recent race riot in a Los Angeles County correctional facility, ‘People of Color’ are All One? made me sad. And at first I was not sure how much the prison race riot would relate to the degree of racial harmony in society overall. After all, Tookie Williams aside, I'm not exactly sure that we really expect inmates to sit in a circle holding hands singing "Kumbaya" living out Martin Luther King's dream. So some part of me thought, "hey I've seen Oz... prisoners aren't going to get along anyway. That's just how things are Inside."

On the other hand, prison isn't really seperate from life Outside. "They" are "Us". Especially since many of "Us" might have family and friends in prison who grew up in our same communities and will rejoin those communities when they get out. And so what happens in prison is a reflection of what happens in the larger society.

Right now, I'm wondering what impacts, if any, the riot has on Black-Mexican interactions in LA. I also wonder what the interactions are like in East Coast prisons (where more Hispanics are Afro-Hispanic - Puerto Ricans, Cubans, Dominicans, etc.) Anyone know?

the islamic movement and the bolivarian revolution

In a Grenada-esque turn, Umar's recent entry on Defending the Islamic Movement and the Bolivarian Revolution talks about how in his own life, people are seeing what happens in Venezuela and what is happening in Iraq and Palestine and the developing world generally as all part of the same struggle.

It reminds me of an interesting thought experiment. From time to time, I wonder what are the long-term implications of my political sympathies. I mean, what if I could replace all the petition-signing pen with a magic wand. What if in one feel swoop, all the governments and other institutions legalized, banned, funded, divested from and pulled out of all the things and places they are supposed to legalize, ban, fund, divest from and pull out of. Is there a coherent pattern to the changes you'd want to make? How would the world be better? And also more realistically, what would be the costs? What would be gained and what might be lost?

Personally, I keep getting a certain amount of insight just from trying to imagine that "another world is possible". But a further question you could ask yourself is how do we persuade people that the new world is worth the price?

Friday, February 17, 2006

more muharram posts

We are still in Muharram, the first month of the Islamic lunar calendar, and in the spirit of the Sunni-Shia blogring it seems appropriate to point folks to Other Muharram Posts in the Blogistan which is a set of Ashurah/Muharram links collected over at Sister Scorpion's site.

It seems like every year, Muharram is a time for tension to come out between Sunnis and Shias. I wonder how folks out there, especially su-shi blogring members but in reality everyone, think about the issue. What's being done to encourage unity. I hear hints in the wind here and there, but I wonder if anything has been happening lately.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

colours of resistance

Through reading about Andrea Smith and Colorlines, I found out about Colours of Resistance and it seems like a powerful and interesting network of activism:

Colours of Resistance is both a thinktank and an actiontank, linking the issues of global capitalism with their local impacts. For us, this means working locally on issues such as anti-war, police brutality, prison abolition, indigenous solidarity, affordable housing, healthcare and public transportation, environmental justice, racist immigration policies, and many more. Colours of Resistance acts as a network for us to share support, ideas, and strategies with one another across our diverse communities.

lantern torch

Lantern Torch: Creative Illumination is a new addition to my blogroll by Tavis Adibudeen. Who is Tavis Adibudeen?

I am a servant of Allah, Most High, a Muslim, primarily. I accepted Islam in 1995, by the grace of Allah, Almighty. [...] I cannot bear the arrogant burden of calling myself Sunni, although I strive to live by the Sunnah. I cannot hold myself in such esteem as to call myself Shi’a, although I endeavor to follow Ahlul-bayt. I cannot imagine myself to be Sufi, although I dream of achieving such a state. These are qualities of a Mu’min, which I have not achieved. I pray that Allah can grant me such qualities.

Check him out

i heart izzy mo

This is a bit late but I love Izzy Mo's Valentine links on Real Love from an Islamic perspective. And she is also totally on-point in her open letter Dear "scholars of Africa and Islam". And of course she's really been taking off with Third Resurrection. Way to go!


A heads up from Adisa at Holla at a Scholar: Check out the anarcho-punk Puerto Rican band Ricanstruction

Crossing over from the sea of wealth that is Manhattan’s Upper East Side into Spanish Harlem you can see the contrasts New York’s Ricanstruction — a Puerto Rican punk/Afro-Latin beat band — have experienced. The ghetto attributes abound: Soviet-style public housing, malt-liquor bottles on the street, an excessive NYPD presence. This Puerto Rican and African American neighborhood is one marked by resistance, insists Not4Prophet, Ricanstruction’s lead vocalist. Everything from the political graffiti to the murals of Che Guevara to the community gardens exudes both resistance and autonomy.

Ricanstruction hesitates to classify itself; Not4Prophet doesn’t even like to use the word “anarchist” to describe the band’s politics. Songs like “Mad Like Farrakhan” and “Bulletproof” bring Latin beats (and political experience) to fast-paced vocals and guitar riffs. Slower, darker rhythms in songs like “Abu-Jamal” (about American political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal) feel more like the finale of a tragic opera with Not4Prophet’s pleading tone, often inspired by Bob Marley as much as Jello Biafra.

While failing — thankfully — to fall into the rock-rap genre that gave us Rage Against the Machine or 311, Not4Prophet’s love of hip hop is essential to the band’s ability to fuse the resistance culture of white anarchist punks and his own Spanish Harlem community. Their latest release, Love + Revolution (Uprising Records), includes appearances from hip hop icons such as Dead Prez and Chuck D from Public Enemy. The band members are still active artistically and politically on their home turf.

venezuela ready to receive hamas

Venezuela has said it will welcome leaders from Hamas "with pleasure" if they visit the country as part of a South American tour after victory in Palestinian elections. The New York-based American Jewish Congress has urged Latin American countries not to welcome Hamas. From AlJazeera

race reconciliation and the spiritual left

I'd heard of Andrea Smith and her work for a couple of weeks now (thanks to Brownfemipower for the heads-up) but wasn't quite sure how to respond to her or connect her work to any other ideas. But I just realized that she provides a good interaction with Michael Lerner's thoughts about the Spiritual Left.

For several years now, there has been a movement among evangelicals who are concerned about racism (especially on a religious/personal level) and have developing the concept of "race reconciliation". In her piece which appeared in Colorlines, Devil's in the Details, Andrea Smith looks very critically at this "Race Reconciliation" movement and points out their basic limitation:

While progressives generally understand that racism is a set of institutional practices that reinforce racial prejudices and maintain white supremacy, evangelicals generally understand racism as individual prejudices which can be transformed through the saving grace of Jesus Christ. Evangelism is presented as the solution to racism. To quote the Christian Coalition, "We don't have a skin problem in this country, we have a sin problem." Ironically, this failure to acknowledge any sweeping material or ideological basis for racism enables periodicals to print articles on the evils of racial prejudice and then follow them up with calls to repeal affirmative action, support immigration moratoriums, and oppose multicultural curriculums in schools.

I definitely think Andrea Smith's analysis rings true as far as it goes. At the same time, in the context of Michael Lerner's ideas about developing a spiritual left, she comes off a bit harsh. And it might be better to light a candle than curse the darkness.

For example, consider Alexis Spencer-Byers, a white-Asian evangelical Christian and author of Urban Verses. I actually sort of know her. She's the person who first introduced me to the phrase "race reconciliation" (at least in an Christian context) by many years ago giving me a copy of More Than Equals: Racial Healing for the Sake of the Gospel by Spencer Perkins and Chris Rice. After graduating from college, she moved to Jackson, Mississippi and has been there for about ten years, to be part of a multi-racial religious community which lives out the idea of race reconciliation.

So on the one hand, I would say that Andrea Smith is totally justified in criticizing those who would replace a serious understanding of and struggle against institutional racism with easy slogans like "We don't have a skin problem, we have a sin problem". But on the other hand, some evangelicals who wave the banner of "race reconciliation" have definitely demonstrated a real commitment to the idea through the choices they have made in life.

In terms of building a "Spiritual Left", instead of demonizing the "race reconciliation" movement outright, it might be more productive to work constructively with them, tap into their energy, and encourage them to probe more deeply on the causes and effects and manifestations of racial inequality. At the same time, those Leftists who tend to downplay matters of the heart could probably learn a few things from the encounter as well.

are desis white?

The article Are Desis White? by Francis C. Assisi recently appeared on the Crayon People site and traces how, in the United States, the racial classification of South Asian people has changed over the years. In the past when there was a greater desire to limit non-European immigration to the US, South Asians were often categorized as non-white (and therefore not eligible for citizenship). While Assisi points out:

Today, in the city of San Marcos, California, for employment purposes, the city identifies the following ethnic groups: white, Black, Hispanic, Asian Pacific Islander (API), and American Indian. Here, Indians, Pakistanis and API are considered to belong to the white category. Similarly in Santa Ana, in the County of Orange, where job applicants are advised to choose their ethnic origin, 'White' includes Indo-European, Indian, and Pakistani.

It made me think back to another Grenada article: racial jujitsu or the more things change... which suggested that as a response to the browning of America, the category of "white" will expand to include more Asians and Hispanics while continuing to exclude Blacks.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

islam and the african people

Islam and the African People by Abubakr Ben Ishmael Salahuddin was technically written from an Ahmadiyya perspective, but that isn't really relevant in terms of the subject matter. Salahuddin briefly brings together and summarizes comments from Afrocentric scholars with positive things to say about Islam's role in African society (and counteract the effects of Black Orientalism), especially Cheikh Anta Diop and Wilmont Blyden.


i started putting this together shortly after the election, so they are a bit overdue.
Al-Jazeera: Hamas wins huge majority
blackprof.com: Democracy in Palestine
avari/nameh: why did hamas win?
avari/nameh: ariel sharon, "the brutal secularist" & other articles, too
In These Times: Hamas: Sharon's Legacy?
Informed Comment: First Reflections on the Electoral Victory of Hamas
Radical Torah: Is Peace Possible Without Islam?

the left hand of god

Michael Lerner's newest book, The Left Hand of God deals with the issue of how political progressives can connect to, build and develop a Spiritual Left movement to counter-balance the Religious Right. (A topic not infrequently brought up here.) Alternet, recently put up an excerpt from the book which inspired the following remarks.

Michael Lerner's central claim, which seems rather obvious to me at this point is that:

By addressing the real spiritual and moral crisis in the daily lives of most Americans, a movement with a progressive spiritual vision would provide an alternate solution to both the intolerant and militarist politics of the Right and the current misguided, visionless, and often spiritually empty politics of the Left.

Lerner points out that there isn't a necessary or natural connection between those who are conservative in their religious principles and those who are on the right wing in a political sense. The "Religious Right" is actually the result of a conscious strategic compromise between different factions and has developed over a period of time. (Earlier today on NPR there was even a report on the development of this strategy)

This political Right achieved power by forging an alliance with a Religious Right that is willing to provide a sanctimonious religious veneer to the selfishness and materialism of the political Right in exchange for the political power it needs to impose parts of its religious agenda on America. Capitalizing on a very real and deep spiritual crisis engendered by living in a society that teaches "looking out for number one" as its highest value, the Religious Right has managed to mobilize tens of millions of people to vote for candidates who end up supporting the very economic arrangements and political ideas responsible for creating the spiritual crisis in the first place.

And furthermore, the status quo and the hopelessness and materialism it engenders helps feed into and maintain the arrangement in the first place:

It is the search for meaning in a despiritualized world that leads many people to right-wing religious communities because these groups seem to be in touch with the sacred dimension of life. Many secularists imagine that people drawn to the Right are there solely because of some ethical or psychological malfunction. What they miss is that there are many very decent Americans who get attracted to the Religious Right because it is the only voice that they encounter that is willing to challenge the despiritualization of daily life, to call for a life that is driven by higher purpose than money, and to provide actual experiences of supportive community for those whose daily life is suffused with alienation and spiritual loneliness.

I don't want to just cynically suggest that secular leftists and Muslims and anyone who wants to tag along should just cobble together an alliance for the sake of political expediency. But I do see spaces where there should be meaningful and constructive cooperation between like-minded groups when it comes to specific changes in foreign and domestic policy. And ideally there would be a spiritual vision inclusive enough to provide a wholistic foundation.

Also, Finding Spirit Among the Dems is the title of an interview with Michael Lerner which goes further into the ideas in his book.

i hate pat robertson blog

The i hate pat robertson blog is pretty self-explanatory.

treatment of guantanamo prisoners constitutes torture

From Common Dreams:

NEW YORK - A draft United Nations report on the detainees at Guantanamo Bay concludes that the U.S. treatment of them violates their rights to physical and mental health and, in some cases, constitutes torture. It also urges the United States to close the military prison in Cuba and bring the captives to trial on U.S. territory.

The report, compiled by five U.N. envoys who interviewed former prisoners, detainees' lawyers and families, and U.S. officials, is the product of an 18-month investigation ordered by the U.N. Commission on Human Rights. Its findings — notably a conclusion that the violent force-feeding of hunger strikers, incidents of excessive violence used in transporting prisoners and combinations of interrogation techniques "must be assessed as amounting to torture" — are likely to stoke U.S. and international criticism of the prison. (For full story: "U.S. is Abusing Captives)

Also, in Walking to Guantanamo from In These Times, Frida Berrigan writes about the protestors who walked on foot from Santiago, Cuba to Guantanamo as a way to speak out against the abuses at the camp.

And finally, an earlier collection of links on guantanamo and planet grenada

happy v.d.

From the African-American psychologist and ethical philosopher, Willard Smith II, to his son:

One day some girl's gonna break your heart
And ooh ain't no pain like from the opposite sex
Gonna hurt bad, but don't take it out on the next, son
Throughout life people will make you mad
Disrespect you and treat you bad
Let God deal with the things they do
Cause hate in your heart will consume you too
Always tell the truth, say your prayers
Hold doors, pull out chairs, easy on the swears
You're living proof that dreams do come true
I love you and I'm here for you.

Monday, February 13, 2006

deep cover

From the 1992 film Deep Cover (John Hull is played by Laurence Fishburne, Gerry is played by Charles Martin Smith)

John Hull: Gerry, what's the difference between a black man and a nigger?

Gerald Carver: What?

John Hull punches Gerald Carver in the stomach.

John Hull: The nigger's the one that would even think about telling you.

I was able to find a transcript for the movie Deep Cover online, but unfortunately the webpage I found only contains the lines and not the characters' actual names. So it is really good if you've seen the movie and are trying to find the exact version of some particularly badass line. But it is less useful if you want to save on video rental fees. Deep Cover is a very "hip" intelligent film which explores issues of double-consciousness, race and situational morality in a very intense way. I highly recommend it.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

the rise of reggaeton

At least as far back as the 40's with the Latin Jazz tune, The Peanut Vendor (El Manicero), musicians in the US have been mixing Latin and Blackamerican elements and forms in order to produce novel styles of music. Furthermore, through the subsequent decades, from time to time US popular music would receive new Afro-Latin injections. Reggaeton is our booster shot.

See Da City Baseline on The Rise of Reggaeton for a thorough discussion of the genre and its history. See also the myth of reggaeton from Grenada's past.

Friday, February 10, 2006

cartoon protests reach latin america

Alternet: In Venezuela, Christians join with Muslims in protesting Danish cartoons

why the devil has more vacation-time than santa: reason number 1,073

The blog, black looks recently put up an entry sex tourism in Africa: (click on link for full story). One of the reasons why this story is so surprising to me is that "normally" when I've read about the concept of sex tourism, it usually occured in Asia, especially urban centers in Thailand like Bangkok. I honestly never knew that this particular kind of thing occured much in Africa. The second aspect which is really striking, is that even though formal slavery has been essentially abolished virtually everywhere, there are still multiple and pervasive ways in which extreme poverty allows the same basic degrading relationship to continue to exist, perhaps in a mutated form.

I wanted to know how the whole sex tourism thing worked so I started a series of conversations with some of the young men working in the "tourist shops". I discovered that first the sex tourists were both men and women but it was the men (mostly from Northern European countries such as Germany, Sweden, Norway etc) who "went" for the young girls and boys. I was told that many of the tourists came every year and stayed for up to 3 months living with a chosen boy or girl. In some cases they would even take the child back to their home country. They told me that everyone, the police, government officials, embassies all knew what was happening but did nothing. One of the ways in which the Europeans took the children back to their homes was by promising to give the children an education and support his or her family back home. It was only when the child was in Germany or Norway that they discovered they were in fact to be sexual slaves. One young man told me he knew of someone who was kept prisoner for over a year in Germany before he was able to escape and seek help and eventually he returned to Gambia.

clash of the uncivilized: insights on the cartoon controversy

From Imam Zaid Shakir:
The current crisis shows the extent we Muslims are vulnerable to media manipulation, superficial shows of piety, and counterproductive one-upmanship militancy. If we start with the issue of media manipulation, it is clear that Western and Eastern media outlets played a large role in stirring up Muslim, and now Western sentiments. When the crisis initially broke in September, it was barely a blip on the media radar. Few outside of Denmark even knew of the cartoons. The Danish Muslim community, appropriately, by and large ignored the story. It was only after a campaign undertaken by a delegation of Danish Muslim community activists to stimulate greater interest in the issue that the crisis reached the proportions we are currently witnessing. These activists traveled throughout the Muslim East trying to draw attention to the issue. When the issue was popularized by Iqra and other Arab satellite channels, and the cartoons were reprinted by several European papers, the crisis deepened. In light of that reality, it would be hard to deny the role the media has played in sparking and now perpetuating the crisis.

full article

Thursday, February 09, 2006

shouting "fire" on a crowded planet

A certain parallel struck me in thinking about this whole cartoon controversy. Proverbially, even the most radical defendants of free speech will say that it is not appropriate to shout "fire" in a crowded theater. The argument, of course, is that such "speech" can cause people to panic, will lead to a stampede, and is likely to cause people to be physically harmed in the process. Given the rioting, violence and death which has happened in the wake of the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy I wonder how many people are willing to make that connection?

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

word cloud


It's a "word cloud" made from words commonly appearing on Grenada. (Font size corresponds to frequency). Apparently all the cool kids are doing it.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

heads up

Ashurah is on Thursday.

jimi izrael on chappelle

Hip-Hop Journalist Jimi Izrael had an interesting take in the wake of Dave Chappelle's recent appearance on the Oprah Winfrey Show:

I was real troubled by white media coverage of Dave Chappelle’s turn on Oprah Winfrey. Clearly uncomfortable, Dave told Oprah that he took pride in the fact that he did humor of two levels, but has lost confidence in white folk’s ability to decipher the intention of it. He said he began to have doubts that white folks bring the tool set necessary to deconstruct his show for what it is: satire wrapped in irony, wrapped in even more satire.

“Chappelle’s Show” is us laughing at white folks laughing at him, because they have no idea why they think he’s funny. But we do. Because whites necessarily have to acknowledge their nearly imperceptable privilege, bringing their own set of prejudices and assumption to every viewing. This is prerequisite for whites to glean any humor whatsoever from “Chappelle’s Show”, and we know it. You and I know that. They don’t, and that’s REALLY what’s so funny. They have no idea the show is encoded ... and it’s hilarious.

But I think Dave was worried that his show had become less a comedy than a warehouse of coonery, where whites brought their ideas about blacks to be affirmed and reinforced. They began to laugh AT and not WITH. I think he’s right---his humor walked that line, and slipped over on occasion. (full story)

everyone has their sacred cows


guess who's coming to dharma

No, I'm not converting but I was still intrigued by the Black Buddhist blog, Zen Under the Skin: Reflections of an African-American Practitioner. It is interesting to think about the process by which other Black folks move away from the traditional church and re-"orient" themselves in a new spiritual direction. Check out: Resources for Black Buddhists for more information.

Monday, February 06, 2006

the quartet meme

I was tagged with:
The Quartet Meme (Grrrr)

Four Jobs I’ve Had in My Life
1. middle school teacher
2. paper boy (okay it was one day)
3. bank teller
4. dj

Four Movies I Could Watch Over and Over, and Have
1. Conquest of the Planet of the Apes
2. Deep Cover (the 1992 film with Laurence Fishburne)
3. Five Heartbeats
4. Hollywood Shuffle

Four places I’ve lived
1. Illinois
2. California
3. Michigan
4. Massachussetts

Four TV Shows I Love To Watch
1. Battlestar Galactica (the new one)
2. Deep Space Nine
3. The West Wing
4. The Boondocks

Four Places I Have Been On Vacation
1. Cancun, Mexico
2. Spain
3. Miami, Florida (I spoke the most Spanish in Miami)
4. Wisconsin Dells.

Four Websites I Visit Daily
1. Black Electorate
2. Chickenbones
3. Third Resurrection (you wouldn't believe how cool it is when I'm surprised by the stuff that is put up there)
4. and um... Wikipedia

Four Favorite Foods
1. pizza with pesto sauce and Tortellini from Antonio's
2. a good tofu stir fry
3. a good taco salad
4. home-cooked arroz con frijoles negros, yucca and platanos fritos.

Four Places I Would Rather Be Right Now
1. home
2. New York
3. San Francisco Bay Area
4. ummmm.... Planet Grenada

Four people whom I tag next
1. Elenamary - De Aqui y de Alla
2. Brownfemipower - Woman of Color Blog
3. DA - Crime of Aquinas
4. Leila from Sister Scorpion (who is asking for a meme)

encyclopedia of biblical errancy

I used to own The Encyclopedia of Biblical Errancy by C. Dennis McKinsey. It's basically a book which brings together in once place a whole host of arguments against Biblical Inerrancy. I say I used to own it because I lent it to a Christian acquaintance of mine who won't give it back. I think the book disturbed him and he must have burnt it or something. From time to time I tease him about how the Bible says something about "Thou shalt not steal".

Anyway, the book tends to take a shotgun approach. What it achieves in terms of its comprehensiveness it loses in its poor use of logic. Some of the book's arguments are valid examples of contradictions or difficulties, but many are also easy to resolve. Still, the book has its interesting points, and if you want to study Christian-Muslim polemics its probably worth a gander.

Especially since I just found out that it is available free online:
Online Version of the Encyclopedia of Biblical Errancy

no hay sangre negra

Thanks to Elenamary for the heads-up...

Taunya Lovell Banks recently published a paper entitled: Mestizaje and the Mexican Mestizo Self: No hay Sangre Negra, So There is No Blackness on how Afro-Latinidad and mestizaje play themselves out in a Mexican context. Here is the abstract (will probably discuss later):

Many legal scholars who write about Mexican mestizaje omit references to Afromexicans, Mexico's African roots, and contemporary anti-black sentiments in the Mexican and Mexican American communities. The reasons for the erasure or invisibility of Mexico's African roots are complex. It argues that post-colonial officials and theorists in shaping Mexico's national image were influenced by two factors: the Spanish colonial legacy and the complex set of rules creating a race-like caste system with a distinct anti-black bias reinforced through art; and the negative images of Mexico and Mexicans articulated in the United States during the early nineteenth century. The post-colonial Mexican becomes mestiza/o, defined as European and Indian, with an emphasis on the European roots. Thus contemporary anti-black bias in Mexico is a vestige of Spanish colonialism and nationalism that must be acknowledged, but is often lost in the uncritical celebration of Latina/o mestizaje when advanced as a unifying principle that moves beyond the conventional binary (black-white) discussions of race. This uncritical and ahistorical invocation of mestizaje has serious implications for race relations in the United States given the growing presence and political power of Mexican Americans because substituting mestizaje for racial binarism when discussing race in the United States reinforces rather than diminishes notions of white racial superiority and dominance. Therefore legal scholars who write about Latina/o issues should replace their uncritical celebration of mestizaje with a focus on colonialism and capitalism, the twin isms that influenced ideological theories and racial formation from the late fifteenth through the twentieth century in the Americas.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

radical women of color carnival

The Radical Women of Color Carnival: Edition #1


It's that time of year again. Oddly enough, this "year" Chinese New Year coincided with the Muslim New Year and the beginning of the first ten days of the month of Muharram. It is definitely a time when religious sensibilities will be heightened among Muslims (I wonder how much that affected the response to the Danish cartoons).

I shared some thoughts on the subject of Ashurah last year (wow, Planet Grenada is approaching its first birthday soon) so this year I think I'll mostly just point to a sampling of what some other members of the Muslim blogosphere are saying. The comments range from...

The Informative:
Sister Scorpion: Judaism, Sunni Islam, and Shi'i Islam and Ashura
Sunni Sister: The Hijrah and Muharram
Zam Zam: Muharram 2006/1427

The Festive:
Dervish: Happy New Year
Colloquy: Tonight We're going to Party Like it's 1427

And the Personal:
Brown Rab Fish Girl: This is a weeping song; a song with which to weep (Nick Cave)
Truth & Beauty: Reclaiming Ashura

And from Grenada last year
day after day after day...


WASHINGTON - The racial divide exposed by Hurricane Katrina has united minority lawmakers in Congress who hope to leverage their numbers to aid overlooked communities. Members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, the Congressional Black Caucus and the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus are creating a new group that will include all of their members. The Tri-Caucus will not replace the existing caucuses.
(full story from Yahoo News)

somewhat machiavellian

I guess I sort of knew that...

You Are Somewhat Machiavellian

You're not going to mow over everyone to get ahead...
But you're also powerful enough to make things happen for yourself.
You understand how the world works, even when it's an ugly place.
You just don't get ugly yourself - unless you have to!

One of the most interesting passages in the Bible for me is Matthew 10:16 where Christ gives his disciples the following instructions: "Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves." For the longest time, in the back of my mind I've thought if I ever write some kind of science fiction story about some Christian theocratic government coming to power in the US, then that would probably be the motto of their intelligence agency.

islam and christianity blending in africa

LAGOS, NIGERIA At first, it seems a surprising sight: inside a two-story mosque in sub-Saharan Africa's largest metropolis hangs a life-size portrait of Jesus Christ.

Yet worshipers at "The True Message of God Mission" say it's entirely natural for Christianity and Islam to cexist, even overlap. They begin their worship by praying at the Jesus alcove and then "running their deliverance" - sprinting laps around the mosque's mosaic-tiled courtyard, praying to the one God for forgiveness and help. They say it's akin to Israelites circling the walls of Jericho - and Muslims swirling around the Ka'ba shrine in Mecca.

This group - originally called "Chris-lam-herb" for its mix-and-match approach to Christianity, Islam, and traditional medicine - is a window on an ongoing religious ferment in Africa. It's still up for debate whether this group, and others like it, could become models for Muslim-Christian unity worldwide or whether they're uniquely African. But either way, they are "part of a trend," says Dana Robert, a Boston University religion professor.

Full story from Christian Science Monitor:
In Africa, Islam and Christianity are Growing, Blending

Also see: the wise men for link to story on Senegalese Muslims celebrating Christmas.

chappelle opens up

David Chappelle is starting to talk more openly about his life and why he walked away from the 3rd season of the Chappelle Show. Apparently it wasn't a secret African-American cabal called the Dark Crusaders.

More on Chappelle's recent appearance on Oprah.
More on Chappelle's upcoming appearance on Inside the Actor's Studio

why muslims get mad

In the media, people tend to focus on the "last straw" and don't even pay attention to everything else which comes before it. Abu Gharaib, Guantanamo, Kashmir, Gujurat, the latest atrocities in Palestine, 9/11 backlash, the Patriot Act, Jose Padilla, Afghanistan, Iraq, and all of the other ways in which Muslim life and honor is disrespescted.

Al-Jazeera: US radio host upsets Muslim body A Muslim civil liberties group has demanded an apology from the host of a Los Angeles-area radio show for making fun of a stampede that killed hundreds of Muslims during the annual hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

the dirty dozen

The biggest Islam-related story in the world today is obviously the recent uproar about the Danish cartoons depicting Muhammad (saaws). I really just have a few brief comments:

1. Even if you believe strongly in free speech (and I do) it is really really stupid to piss on the religious sensibilities of a billion people.

2. Muslims are under no obligation to give their money to people (or those associated with them) who piss on their religious sensibilities. So the boycotts are a beautiful response. It is certainly a wiser, more constructive response than resorting to violence (which unfortunately is also happening).

3. Anger doesn't arise in a vacum. And I don't believe that in all times and places, you would find Muslims reacting violently to a mere cartoon. (For example, Muhammad was depicted on a past episode of South Park without causing any kind of protest as far as I know) From the recent French riots we know that the European Muslim community is facing all sorts of issues of class and race, anger and disrespect, and that it only takes a catalyst to bring those issues to the surface.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

so if we take hostages, what should they call us?

Critics Say Detaining Suspected Terrorists' Wives May BackfireIt Could Alienate the Iraqi People, Experts Say

Jan. 29, 2006— Since the beginning of the war in Iraq, there have been questions about U.S. troops' sensitivities to Islamic culture — especially when dealing with women. Now there are new questions about a tactic the military calls leveraging. For example, marines found weapons and explosives in a woman's house and wanted her to lead them to her husband. The military says this sort of intimidation is a necessary tool. But internal military documents suggest it's taken a new turn: Detaining wives of suspected insurgents in hopes of getting their husbands to surrender. "If they're being taken solely for the purpose of drawing their men out of hiding, it can even appear to look like hostage taking," said Jumana Musa of Amnesty International.(full story)

Could be Jumana, could be.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

what's new

I just wanted to give shout-outs to some blogs which I have semi-recently and unceremoniously added to my blogroll.

pomegranate queen This poetic Iranian woman describes herself as "a Revolutionary Other; Desert Woman; shitdisturber; certified social anthropologist; aspiring high school teacher; "starving" artist/writer/poetess; homemaker; secular B-Girl muslima; Brownstockings-girl; emotionally intense; musically-obsessed... "

Both s.o.u.l. empire and da city bass line are blogs by R.J. Noriega. It is hard to briefly explain what they cover but in a lot of respects they are like Planet Grenada's brothers from another mother.

little peaches is by a Latina Muslim blogger living in Canada who writes about her personal life. In her words: Writer ~ Wife ~ Teenager ~ Survivor ~ Student ~ Sister ~ Niqabi ~ Muslimah ~ Mother ~ Latina ~ Homeschooler ~ Daughter ~ Convert ~ Baby Wearer ~ Aunt ~ Attached Parent ~ American

And then it was over... by Lubna Grewal is a thoughtfully-written blog by a Muslimah living in Michgan.

and finally, my man's semi-anonymous livejournal blog eclectic-soul (he's the brother who first told me about the magical negro)

early mexican graves hold africans

Within just a few years of Christopher Columbus' journey to the New World, West African slaves appeared in the Western Hemisphere. And researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Autonomous University of the Yucatan, in Merida, Mexico, may have found one of the earliest gravesites of these unwilling travelers. (entire article)

how race is lived

From Gene Expression: How race is lived in ... Latino America? On how racial categories operate within the Latino umbrella. This is old but not outdated.

wafah dufour

Bin Laden's niece appears in racy photos is an old story which came out in December. But I question why it got any attention at all. I wonder if on some level it was promoted because it seems to validate Western notions of what women "really" want, especially relative to the Muslim world.

khalid al-masri

America kidnapped me by Khalid al-Masri

shaykh amadou bamba

Check out Izzy Mo's piece at Third Resurrection on Shaykh Amadou Bamba of Senegal