Friday, June 30, 2006

better formatting?

For most of the time I've had this blog I've surfed the web with Internet Explorer, but I've recently learned (first-hand unfortunately) that the program has weaknesses which can be exploited by viruses so then I switched to Mozilla. But then I realized that Grenada hasn't been displaying properly on Mozilla so recently I started to tweak the html a little and now things seem to be looking a bit better. I've also noticed an upswing in hits. I wonder if it is all related?

Thursday, June 29, 2006

the south park where chef becomes muslim (the comeback)

I posted this before but You Tube removed the clip from their site so the old link is no good. But I recently found another site where it is still available. 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.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

the one who got away

On the personal tip: I found out a few days ago that "the one who got away" has a daughter who is a little less than a year old. It's weird. When I found out she got married it was bittersweet but I can still honestly say I was happy for her. This time around it's still bittersweet but I think its more bitter than sweet. Odd. Maybe I'm just in a different place. Or maybe it's just me getting sad about the road not taken.

Also, it's funny that I'm getting into this at all because I also recently found out that Grenada is even less anonymous than I thought it was. Anyway... I have some posts on the back burner and I'm still figuring out life stuff. More later.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

amish drug rings or why profiling is really stupid

This recent mess in Miami (where many of the news reports jumped to the false conclusion that the Seas of David were Muslim) reminds me of some of the dangers of profiling. The problem is, any time you single out one group and treat them with greater suspicion, then logically it means putting everyone else under less scrutiny. And when some of those people realize how much they can get away with, they will often take advantage of it.

For example, when I was in high school I had the sense that for some of my white classmates, shoplifting was almost a "rite of passage". When they went to the stores, no one was paying particular attention to them, and they could nab things with a certain amount of confidence and impunity. After all, why would anyone suspect a fifteen-year old white kid?

I thought I'd share with you my two "favorite" examples of how this logical flipside of profiling can lead to some rather spectacular misdeeds.

The first is an Amish drug ring. Yes, you heard me correctly. An Amish drug ring. Apparently from 1992 to 1997, two Amish youths had entered into an arrangement with a local motorcycle gang and sold $100,000 worth in cocaine to youths in the Philadelphia area. This was possible, precisely because the police would generally ignore the Amish. After all what could they be up to in their buggies and hats?

The second example happened after 9/11. Everywhere in the U.S. , Middle Easterners/Muslims were obviously being singled out as a threat. Security in many public places was elevated and racial profiling was becoming more blatant. The amazing thing is that in this atmosphere of heightened attention to certain ethnic groups, where people can't even bring cigarette lighters or nail clippers onto airplanes, a fifteen-year old white kid still manages to fly a plane into a building!

If we really want to be safe and secure, it means (among other things) looking objectively at the world and not taking for granted that certain demographic groups are innocent and harmless while other groups are scary and threatening. We have to be willing to look objectively at the world with fresh eyes instead of taking the prejudiced (and intellectually lazy) route of merely rounding up the "usual suspects".

Monday, June 26, 2006

woman of color blog

Brownfemipower moved her women of color blog to a new location:
www.brownfemipower.com

And check out her post: reclaiming space for a brief but intense expressive piece which puts patriarchy and life/death in the Middle East in perspective.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

what would a white mosque be like?

Check out: What would a white mosque be like? at Third Resurrection

"sing dis song. doo dah, doo dah!"

By the rivers of Babylon‚—
there we sat down and there we wept
when we remembered Zion.
On the willows there
we hung up our harps.
For there our captors
asked us for songs,
and our tormentors asked for mirth, saying,
"Sing us one of the songs of Zion!"
How could we sing the LORD's song
in a foreign land?
Psalm 137:1-4


I started this post over a week ago and I had intended to talk about how Muslims might make sense of the Psalms (and the Torah and the Gospel) which are mentioned in the Quran as other examples of revelation. But I think I'll save that larger discussion for later. Instead I'll just share a few thoughts on a more specific issue.

The above passage from the Psalms is one of the most intriguing for me. Firstly, it is probably among the more ancient songs which you'll ever hear on the radio. Don McClean (more famous for the song American Pie) recorded a version of this song in the form of a round simply called Babylon. A second version with was composed by the Rastafarian group, the Melodians as Rivers of Babylon and was subsequently covered by other artists.

The second reason why the above passage interests me is because I was really impressed by how the comedy film maker Mel Brooks uses it in a famous scene from Blazing Saddles. (warning: crude language). His films have a huge amount of silly humor, but he can be deep when he wants to be.

juan cole on the miami group

Juan Cole has some rather interesting comments to add about the Seas (or C's?) of David on his Informed Comment blog. See: CAIR: Miami Cult not Muslims
But contrast the grandstanding of Alberto Gonzales on this group of poor unarmed ghetto folk with the way in which the Robert J. Goldstein case was treated. He actually had the bombs in his house and was going to blow up Floridians. No press called him a "Jewish" terrorist and no questions were ever raised about his possible international links.

Friday, June 23, 2006

miami and the seas of david

When I first heard the story of the "terrorists" who were recently arrested in Miami and were talking about blowing up the Sears Tower, I was struck by how similar some of the details were to Sleeper Cell. The cell lived in some kind of warehouse. They were planning a spectacular public attack. They were a mix of immigrants and non-immigrants. And apparently the FBI did some kind of undercover work in apprehending them... in this case, by claiming to be a representative of Al-Qaedah.

But there the similarities pretty much end.

First of all, the group doesn't seem to be Muslim in any sense (But "lucky" for me, they are mostly Afro-Caribbean... Haitian and Bahamian). The group is called the Seas of David and they have a "militant" vibe but are more Bible-based. Perhaps they just hinted at being Muslim so that the FBI-agent who was pretending to be from Al-Qaedah would be more willing to work with them? I don't know.

Some of the members of the group are also described as "teenagers" or "young adults" and no weapons or bomb-making materials were found by the FBI which makes me wonder how seriously we should take the whole thing. I'm not saying that no wrong-doing occurred. The group had apparently gone as far as shooting (photographs of) various targets in the Miami area. But they were never actually in touch with Al-Qaedah. I seriously pray that the judge, jury, etc. looks at the situation with wisdom. By all means, punish them as appropriate. But I hope the government isn't ruining the lives of a group of harmless poor black teenagers (if that's what they are) just so that the FBI can look good.

It will be interesting to see how the story develops. Will American society treat "Christian" terrorists differently from "Muslim" terrorists? And in any case, when is the last time that white Christian militants got on the FBI's bad side?

Grenada's past:
eric robert rudolph
iraq and al qaeda, america and the kkk

nammu muhammad?

Also, I should add that I got a few more hits searching for information on "Nammu Muhammad" than "Nammu Mohamed" so it is possible that the former is more accurate than the latter.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

vote nammu mohamed

From: African American Green Candidates to Watch in 2006
Nammu Mohamed, candidate for County Council in Richland County, South Carolina, is focusing his campaign on the needs of local families. "Families and children in Richland County need more than just words from the council, they need action," said Mr. Mohamed. "From jobs to education to juvenal justice, the county has let the people down long enough. It's time to elect a defender of children and families to the county council."

I honestly, don't know if Nammu is Muslim but given his last name, you kind of have to wonder.

It kind of makes sense. After all, green is the color of Islam. And for past Planet Grenada articles on the connections between the Green Party and Muslims or Muslim causes, you might want to check out:
the spiritual left
khalil bendib
malik rahim
the green party supports divestment

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

sleeper cell (part 2)

I had read about this series some time ago before it actually aired, but I haven't actually seen any of Sleeper Cell until now. (The series just came out on DVD and so I can watch the whole thing over a weekend) I'm not exactly sure how I feel about it yet. I've gotten through the first two DVDs and I'm taking a break before starting the finale.

Michael Ealy stars as an African-American Muslim FBI agent who is working undercover in a terrorist cell. I think the premise had a lot of promise, and the show is entertaining so far. It has its interesting bits. But to be honest, I'm not totally geeked about the series.

SPOILERS AHEAD
DON'T READ FURTHER IF YOU PLAN TO SEE THE SERIES

Simply by virtue of having to tell a story over a long period of time about a small central cast, the writers had to flesh out the Muslim characters and give them different backstories. So it's portrayal of Muslims almost couldn't help but be more humane and realistic than the typical stock terrorist villan which usually populates this type of story. The terrorist cell consists of: A Bosnian who saw his entire family being butchered by Serbs. An ex-skinhead from France who found Islam through his Morroccan wife. A young white American with liberal parents (clearly modelled on John Walker Lindh). The head of the cell is Saudi (Although for most of the series, his background is not specified, and during work hours he passes as a Sephardic Jew. This character is by far the most cartoonish).

In general, most of the Muslim characters are portrayed as deeply conflicted and contradictory in matters of religion. From the very first episode, we see the members of the cell hanging out in strip clubs, drinking. We find that they raise funds by dealing in heroin, child prostitution and pirated DVDs. The French Muslim is married but commits adultery with little restraint (At one point, he has sex with the mother of one of the other terror cell members).

We even see the "good" Muslim FBI agent order (and presumably drink) beer in a bar as a part of an assignment given to him by the terror cell. On top of that (and this takes us into a whole other level of issues) the "good" successful Black Muslim FBI agent also starts a sexual relationship with a white Catholic beautician (a "single" mother who later turns out to be married). We later meet one of his former girlfriends, an African-American women with a successful career in the State Department but we are never told explicitly why their relationship didn't work out.

Another level of contradiction appears when the members of the cell actually kill a genuine mujahid. In fact, pretty much all the pious (non-terrorist, non-drinking, non-fornicating) Muslim characters of any significance (a mainstream Yemeni scholar, a white American who fought to defend Muslims in Bosnia, a young Afghan boy who spent time in Guantanamo) end up dead by the end of whatever episode focuses on them. It makes it seem as if the "subliminal" message behind the series is: Compromise or die.

As I said in the beginning, this is definitely better than most Hollywood portrayals of Muslims (e.g. see Planet of the Arabs). And it is definitely a huge step to have a television series with an African-American Muslim lead character, and with actual Muslims involved both in front of and behind the camera. At the same time, there is definitely room for improvement.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

father's day

In honor of Father's Day, I just wanted to share some links. First to Johnny Cash's famous song, A Boy Named Sue. And second, a version of Cats in the Cradle by Ugly Kid Joe.

Friday, June 16, 2006

"a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens"

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has. -Margaret Mead

I'm still reading Foucault's Pendelum. It's going a bit slowly. I'm starting to see why it was compared to the Da Vinci code. The Plan is unfolding and the characters are already talking about the Templars and the Holy Grail. One character has already died (apparently at least) for "knowing too much".

The above quote from Margaret Mead is usually put on posters or stickers or coffee mugs, in general to support the optimistic idea that individuals can make a difference. I just wanted to mention that in the course of reading this novel about powerful organizations working behind the scenes to manipulate world events, it occurs to me that the same quote supports a pessimistic and conspiratorial view of history as well. "A small group of thoughtful, committed citizens" could be your favorite charity or it could be Skull and Bones. It all depends on the agenda.

Now that I think about it, this reminds of the divisions used by the "Five Percenters". 85% of the population are the ignorant, deaf, dumb and blind masses of people who are exploited by those in power. 10% of the population who know the truth but use their knowledge to exploit the 85%. And finally, 5% are the poor righteous teachers who know the truth and work to "civilize" 85% and give them "knowledge of self".

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

some cubans are converting to islam

By Rui Ferreira
El Nuevo Herald

A small number of Cubans have embraced Islam, gathering for prayers and attending religious events mostly sponsored by Iranian diplomats in Havana, one of the converts says.

Some Havana residents place the total number of converts at 300; others, at 3,000. What's certain is that about 70 usually attend the gatherings hosted by the Iranian diplomats.

''We are a small community that struggles on. . . . Many people associate Muslims with a not-very moderate Islam, but we are very moderate,'' said Alí Nicolás Cossío, a former foreign ministry official who now reports for the Voice of Islam, the official Iranian radio station.

'The community owes much to the embassies' moral and human support, and the Iranian Embassy -- the only Shiite mission -- stands out in that regard,'' Cossío told El Nuevo Herald in a telephone interview from his home in Havana.

There are about 16 Arab diplomatic missions in Havana, Cossío said, but the Iranian embassy plays the leading role in contacts with the local Muslims.

SLATE OF ACTIVITIES

The mission created a writing contest about Iranian history, hopes to set up a ''reflection group'' on Islamic subjects and earlier this month hosted a reception to mark the anniversary of the birth of the prophet Mohammed.

The Communist Party's Department of Religious Activities has appointed an official to work as liaison with the converts, even though the Cuban government has long been leery of outside religious groups as potentially undermining its control over the island and its people.

''An interesting dilemma,'' said Daniel Alvarez, an expert on Islam at Florida International University. ``If these Cubans are looking for support and [the Cuban government] acts against them, the Iranians might see that as an anti-Muslim gesture.''

AID THE NEEDY

''The other aspect is the issue of human solidarity,'' Alvarez said.

``The Koran says that if someone asks a Muslim for help, there is an obligation to go to the aid of the needy. And if the needy is a Muslim, the obligation is even greater.''

Religious practices have risen sharply in Cuba since the early 1990s, when an economic crisis buffeted its people and after the government abandoned its official atheism.

Foreign religious groups regularly send humanitarian aid, which attracts more local followers.

NUMBERS NOT PRIORITY

Cossío said the new Muslim converts ``are in favor of a community with values that are more cultural than material. We are not interested in growth in numbers but in growth in human quality.''

Cuban leader Fidel Castro's government has long maintained good relations with most Muslim countries. It strongly supported Yasser Arafat, the late leader of the Palestine Liberation Organization, and had close contacts with former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. Cuba also has close political and trade links to Iran, which is predominantly Shiite.

Back in the late 1970s, Havana hosted so many embassies from Arab countries that the diplomatic missions, with the Cuban government's permission, created a group, the Arab Union of Cuba, and obtained a meeting place.

HAVE SOUGHT LINKS

The new Muslim converts have tried to establish links to the Arab Union, according to knowledgeable Cubans in Havana. But the union considers itself a lay organization and has not provided them with space for religious services.

There's an ''official'' mosque -- within the Arab House -- a restaurant-meeting hall in Old Havana sponsored by the Office of the Havana Historian Eusebio Leal.

But Cossío said that's only for diplomats and foreigners.

REQUEST FOR MOSQUE

So the converts are now asking for permission to build a mosque in Havana.

''Cuba is the only Latin American country without a mosque, and where there's no mosque it is very difficult to establish social exchanges,'' Cossío said.

For now, though, that would seem unlikely. For years, the Islamic diplomatic community asked for one but had to resort to makeshift prayer halls in diplomatic compounds. And Cuba has been all but barring other religions from building new temples.

sisters gonna work it out (part two)

Say hello to the: Radical Women of Color Think Tank

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Friday, June 09, 2006

blacks from the muslim world

The Third Resurrection blog was started mainly to discuss issues involving Blacks in America in relation to Islam. But recently the posts the hidden black iraq and the story of a black qatari touch on the lives of Blacks from the Muslim world (as do many other articles on Third Resurrection)

re-reconquista

Umar's latest post over at his blog Attraction to Latinas and Muslim Inbreeding kind of hit a nerve with me. I'm going to assume the best about the purity of Umar's intentions and his preferences in women (truly), but I think I'm going to side with Umm Zaid and express that for a lot of men there are some creepy tendancies to their behavior in this whole area. Perhaps "fetish" is the wrong word, but there are definitely men who, in spite of being Muslim, hold on to racist stereotypes about what certain groups of women are like and act accordingly. And personally, as a Latino Muslim who occasionally thinks it would be nice to find a Latina Muslim to marry, I'm especially creeped out by entries like calling all muslim men! our dream is coming true! over at avari. It just brings up a really bad memory with me. Since this blog is only semi-anonymous I'm not going to tell the whole story, but it is related to an event I alluded to before in judge not, lest ye be judged... I'll just say that when I see men from "Muslim" cultural backgrounds act badly with women, it pisses me off in a way that only a few things can.

p.s. Just so that there is no confusion, none of the above should be construed as a criticism of Haroon or Umar. I don't have any problem with them, just with the attitude they allude to in their blogs.

the subtle racism of latin america

The Subtle Racism of Latin America by Anson Musselman is a supremely Grenada-esque piece which summarizes a lecture by Carlos Moore, the author of Castro, the Blacks and Africa (who was mentioned before in assata and cuban racism and elsewhere).

In this case, Moore discusses the roots of racism in Latin America, and traces its distinctive features to the Arab conquest of the Iberian Peninsula:
The Arab-Spanish-Latin American pattern was far more permissive of interracial sex and incorporating racial differences, but, Moore adds, not without its own light-skinned hierarchy. Moore asserts that racial mixing was a very normal occurrence in the Arab world; socially acceptable racial mixing, however, only goes in one direction. Moore postulates the existence in Latin America of a "racial philosophy of eugenics" that encourages a "unilateral … sexual commingling between white [or light skinned] males and the females of the physically conquered and socially inferior race."

Actually, this characterization race relations in the Arab world puts an interesting spin on some other links I found recently about Muslims and Latinas.

"'x-men' is not a cleverly named documentary about the nation of islam..."

"... If you go expecting anything of that nature, you will be extremely disappointed."
Or at least that's what Huey Freeman of the Boondocks said in his own review of the first X-Men film. But I'm not sure if Huey has ever been more wrong. In the current political climate, it would be difficult for any film about mutants who are met with widespread paranoia and face increased government scrutiny to not also evoke the challenges faced by another group whose name also begins with the letter "M".

For example, consider Magneto's words to Professor X at the end of the first film:
But you know that it is a war, old friend. And to win a war it takes the will to fight it at all costs, by any means necessary. And for that reason, I will always have the advantage. No matter how you trap me, how I am contained.
Or the exchange which occurs when the blue-skinned mutant Mystique is being questioned by a government official:
The Interrogator: Raven?
Mystique: I don't answer to my slave name.
The Interrogator: Raven Darkholme? That's your real name. Or has he convinced you that you don't have any family?

Perhaps a future DVD release of the films will include a deleted scene of the Juggernaut selling bean pies?

And we can go further... Many of the characters literally and metaphorically represent various Others. We all know... Magneto is a Malcolm X (literally a Holocaust survivor). Professor Xavier is Martin Luther King Jr. and Hispanic (Xavier is definitely a Spanish name but Professor X seldom shows a "Latin tinge" except for the Marvel 1602 series where he is renamed Carlos Javier and explicitly made a Spaniard). In the film X2, "Iceman" Bobby Drake was 'gay' (He came out to his parents as a mutant) and in X3 that role was played by "Angel" (bare-chested, flying around with wings, his father discovers his mutant status in the bathroom).

But I am definitely not the first person to point out that the X-Men mythos is really a huge fable about racism, anti-semitism and other forms of prejudice:

Morpheus Reloaded: Beyond Children of the Atom: Black Politics, White Minds and the X-Men
blackprof.com: X-MEN III: A Story about Race and Sexuality?
X-Men, Emerson, Gnosticism by Geoff Klock
Malcolm X Men
X-Men screenplay

Grenada's past:
black comic books
race and dc comic books

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

number of the beast

This calls for wisdom: let him who has understanding reckon the number of the beast, for it is a human number, its number is six hundred and sixty-six.
-The Revelation of St. John, 13:18

Today's date is 6/6/06 according to the Gregorian calendar which, based on the above Bible verse, has a certain sinister theological significance for some folks. I will accordingly, share six different comments that sort of fit under the general umbrella.

1. The remake of The Omen (a film about the anti-Christ as a child) is opening in theaters today. The filmakers are definitely trying to capitalize on the whole 6/6/06 co-incidence. I was surprised that they even attempted a remake. Along with The Exorcist and Rosemary's Baby, the original Omen is one of the scariest movies I've ever seen. It is definitely a horror classic, as is and in my opinion, it holds up pretty well over the years. On the other hand, I wouldn't say the same thing about the other two films in the trilogy which were really dated. I definitely think that The Omen II and the Final Conflict would be improved with a more contemporary feel.

2. One of the things that appeals to me about how the Quran treats certain subjects is that it just sticks to the essentials. This is especially true about eschatology ("last things"). We are told that there will be a Last Day and that our deeds will be weighed in the end. And these events are described in vivid cataclysmic terms which move and inspire individuals to refelction and action. But the Quran doesn't give the kind of details which would encourage useless speculation on the subject. (like the Left Behind series, or the Omen movies, etc.)

At the same time, I should be the clear that the above comments are specific to the Quran. If we go to the hadith, we can find a basis for a pretty rich and detailed Islamic eschatology which includes the Dajjal (the false Christ) the Second Coming of Jesus, the Mahdi, Gog and Magog, and even Islamic versions of the Beast and the Rapture doctrines as well. I would just argue that they are less central, at least in Sunni Islam.

3. The Revelation of St. John is at times a hard text to decipher. And Christians haven't really been able to agree among themselves on how to interpret it. The terms Amillenialism, Premillenialism and Postmillenialism are often used to describe different Christian understandings of the end-time. One of the more interesting interpretations is known as Preterism which holds that many or all of the Biblical prophecies about the endtimes were essentially fulfilled in the First century. Under this interpretation, the Revelation of St. John is more like a coded political tract than the surrealist nightmare of the literalist. For the Preterist, the book is about the end of the Mosaic dispensation, the destruction of the temple, the fall of Jerusalem and the persecution of the early Christians by the Romans. In fact, according to some calculations, Nero's name can be seen to correspond to the number 666.

4. In both Hebrew and Arabic, there are conventions which allow letters to be given numerical values. And so in Jewish and Muslim cultures, there is a tradition of taking texts and "doing arithmetic" on them to see another level of meaning. In the case of Hebrew this is called gematria. In Arabic it is called abjad. Those who utilize gematria might argue that if two words from the Torah have the same numerical value it could indicate connections between the related concepts. And a common use of abjad (the most common I've seen, anyway) would be the use of "786" as an abreviation for "Bismillah Ar-Rahman, Ar-Rahim" (In the name of God, the most Merciful, the most Compassionate) in order to avoid writing the name of God. (Not unlike how orthodox Jews use "G_d" in writing).

Also, somewhat controversially, Rashad Khalifa claimed that he had used a similar method to uncover a mathematical miracle in the Quran which establishes its divine origin. He is a controversial figure, mainly for three reasons: 1) he took a "sola scriptura" approach and ended up emphasizing the Quran to the exclusion of the hadith. 2) He believed in his own method so much that when it turned out some sections of the Quran didn't fit his theories, he rejected those verses instead of rejecting his theories. And 3) In the end, he himself claimed to be a rasul, a messenger of Allah after Muhammad (saaws).

I think it is possible to find a number of interesting mathematical facts one can mention about the Quran, and if that helps sustain and strengthen someone's faith then masha Allah. But in general, moderation and caution are also important, especially if the mathematical methods lead to questionable conclusions.

5. Early followers of the Bab (A Persian religious figure who claimed to be the Mahdi, and who is considered a forerunner by the Bahai Faith) were also into abjad. If you are interested in Babi/Bahai issues, apparently there are some Babi abjad-related prophecies
which the Bahai faith failed to satisfy. At least, that's the argument some Babis make.

6. And finally, I'm still reading Foucault's Pendelum. I just finished a passage where the narrator is trying to guess the password on his friend's computer (and the friend happens to be a religious fanatic of sorts) and so one of the possibilities he tries is 666. The book is interesting but a little slow-going. Umberto Eco is a dense writer and he makes me want to check Wikipedia every other page in order to make sure I "get" all the terms and references.

UK Submitters: Mathematical Miracle of the Koran
The Straight Dope: What's up with 666, the "mark of the beast"?

Sunday, June 04, 2006

more on perennialism

I haven't written about Perennialism for a couple of months now. But yesterday I found a page called The Le Floch Report which linked to an earlier Grenada piece on the subject. As far as I can tell, The Le Floch Report is a traditional Catholic site which promotes views similar to Traditionalism/ Perennialism but ultimately wants to reject it. The site also links to other pages which give a different perspective on Perennialism, especially as it relates to Catholicism. Personally Perennialist views and authors (S.H. Nasr, Martin Lings, Charles Le Gai Eaton, and others) appeal to me but I still wouldn't consider myself a card-carrying member.

Basically, I believe that God is eternal and that the human condition (including our basic spiritual needs) is more or less unchanging. So if a religion truly satisfied those needs thousands of years ago, then it should still be able to "work" today. If a religion was ever true, then it is "always" true. That is a bit of an oversimplification, but that's where my sympathies are. (see for example, qurbani)

Saturday, June 03, 2006

summit of latino and african american race relations

(From Adisa's blog)
For Immediate Release
Media Contact:
Najee Ali (323) 350-1065

FIRST ANNUAL SUMMIT OF LATINO AND AFRICAN AMERICAN RACE RELATIONS


Who: Reverend Al Sharpton, National Action Network
Christine Chavez, Granddaughter of Caesar Chavez
Gloria Romero, State Senator, 24th District
Roosevelt Dorn, Mayor of Inglewood, CA
Eric Perrodin, Mayor of Compton, CA
Leticia Vasquez, Mayor of Lynwood, CA
Najee Ali, Project Islamic Hope
Earl Ofari Hutchinson, Political Commentator
Victor Field, Publisher, Latino Publications

What: 1st Annual National Summit of Latino and
African American Relations

When: Saturday, June 3, 2006
7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Media Check-in Open At 6 p.m.

Where: Omar Social Hall
1025 Exposition Blvd
Los Angeles CA, 90008
Vermont & Exposition

Public
Information: Free of cost to the public. Early arrival suggested.

Background:

LOS ANGELES - Los Angeles is experiencing a low level race riot between Latinos and Blacks. With racially motivated fights in the prison system and the public schools, the tensions among Latinos and Blacks has elevated to an all time high with the very real potential of spreading.

This dialogue, hosted by the Reverend Al Sharpton and Christine Chavez, is a first step in addressing the issues that are equally important to both groups immigration, jobs, and gang violence

so many books, so little time

I got a Border's gift card back in December. A few months ago I used half of it and got Amina Wadud's book on the Quran and Women (which I'm still in the middle of) and the very Grenada-esque "Black Crescent: The Experience and Legacy of African Muslims in the Americas" by Michael A. Gomez. (when I finish it I'll definitely have to comment on here. I'm kind of excited because a large chunk of the book deals with Brazil and the Caribbean where apparently more of a Muslim identity was able to survive among the kidnapped Africans, at least in the beginning)

Yesterday I went to Border's again and almost used up the gift card. I got "Foucault's Pendelum" by Umberto Eco (I'd heard of the book before but now that it's being marketed as a "thinking man's Da Vinci Code" I got more interested. ... Yes, I realize they are pandering but I guess I'm a sucker for that sort of thing). I also got "Islam, Fundamentalism and the Betrayal of Tradition" which is a collection of pieces by Western Muslim scholars and "The African-American Writer's Guide to Successful Self-Publishing" (in case I ever get around to writing a book).

personal note

I realized I haven't had too many "religious" entries in a while. Even the few "Muslim" entries have been more political than spiritual. It's probably a reflection of how in my real-life I'm getting caught up and distracted in the dunya. Some of my worrying taken up by legitimate obligations which I should take more seriously. Some of it is nonsense. InshaAllah, I'll be able to put first things first, and second things second. Keep me in your dua.

Black-Latino Relations and the Public Discourse

Blackprof.com: Black-Latino Relations and the Public Discourse by Tanya Hernandez summarizes and nuances some of the bleaker visions of Black-Latino relations in the future.

Friday, June 02, 2006

celebrating puerto rico's black heritage

Seeingblack.com: Celebrating Puerto Rico's Black Heritage by Alma Abreu is a piece about "El Museo de Nuestra Raiz Africana" (the Museum of our African Roots) located in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico, is where you can learn about the African cultural influence of Puerto Rico.

chavez brings hope to afro-venezuelans

Thursday, June 01, 2006

understanding pickaninnies and improving the race

Understanding Pickaninnies and Improving the Race by Troy Peters is a piece from The Black Commentator about the Memin Pinguin Mexican stamp issue which I found while looking pieces on Afro-Latino invisibility (for the last entry).

"that's wells, not ellison, in case you feel like being cute again."

Speaking of Afro-futurism,, it comes up in an interesting way in Mission: Impossible 3. Lawrence Fishburne plays the role of Theodore Brassel, the head of the IMF (Impossible Mission Force). He actually had me cracking up in the theater. In his big scene, he goes off on Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and Musgrave (Billy Crudd) in a hilarious piece of "dialogue" which made him sound like an erudite version of Eddie Murphy's boss in Beverly Hills Cop.

At one point, after describing how the central villain (played by Philip Seymour Hoffman) has been difficult to catch and is an "invisible man" Fishburne says to Crudd: "That's Wells, not Ellison, in case you feel like being cute again."

I'm sure I'm over-analyzing this (at least, I wouldn't claim that the author of the screenplay had any of this in mind) but I think it's more than just a coincidence that Ralph Ellison's novel about an African-American man who is hidden and ignored and H.G. Well's science-fiction novel about a man who is literally invisible share the same title. Invisibility (secrecy, hiding) is a major component of the Black condition. For example, Afro-Latino invisibility is almost a cliche at this point.

Check out: Afro-Colombians:'Invisible' People Strive to Survive War, Racism by Saeed Shabazz, Mestizaje and the Mexican Mestizo Self: No hay Sangre Negra, So There is No Blackness by Taunya Lovell Banks, In Peru, Afro-Descendants Fight Ingrained Racism, Invisibility by Angel Paez and then invisibility blues and tuning out blackness

But it actually goes deeper than that... a few years ago I wrote a poem which started off with the 'joke' that from time to time, all the Black people in the world have secret meetings where we review and plan for all the various manifestations and expressions of Black culture. (e.g. "we decide what sounds will drip down from ghetto blasters to suburban frat parties for the next ten years") And in the middle of working on that piece I started to come up with example after example of how secrecy and hiding show up as themes in black history. (e.g. "we hid pyramid construction instructions in hieroglyphics and guarded them with mummy curses", "we hid getaway plans inside of gospel hymns" "we hid orishas under white-washed saints" etc.) In a Western context (especially under slavery) where Black existence is precarious, it makes sense that we would place a premium on being able to communicate among ourselves without being understood by others.

In working on this poem, what really surprised me is how far back it was possible to take this idea. We can even go back to the most ancient Black man of the Western Canon, namely Noah's son Ham, and read these themes into his story. Specifically, Ham's 'original sin' was that he "uncovered his father's nakedness", in other words, he revealed something which should have remained hidden, and as a result his descendents were cursed with slavery. And so for me, Ham's parting advice to his children was "Not every true thing need be told".

Of course, the above description only goes so far, and is only true from a certain vantage point. I wouldn't want to essentialize and romanticize Black invisibility. We should just acknowledge that it plays a large role, but then ultimately move past it.