Tuesday, January 30, 2007

black presidents (part four)

More on black presidents... to be honest I've been a little too busy to get all eloquent about the subject so this might seem more like a link dump. But ver since I started this series I was actually surprised by how many different models of leadership were out there... the Badass, the Bootlick, the Civil Rights activist, the Idealist, the Independent and the Insider. In the future I might pick this subject again (for example I've recently been catching up on old seasons of 24 and have been thinking a lot about how race and religion are portrayed on the series, including David Palmer's presidency) but for now this last post is something of a survey and a wrap-up

First some general comments:
GBN: The First Black President? by Ron Mwangaguhunga
NPR: Black Presidents Elected Regularly on TV, in Movies

One of the most extreme presidential candidates I want to consider is Eldridge Cleaver. He was an admitted rapist, former Black Panther, car thief who ran for president on the Peace and Freedom Party ticket in spite of the fact that he was too young to qualify at the time. When he ran for President it was more about giving a symbolic defiant middle finger to the Man than anything else. Eventually Cleaver would become a Reagan Republican, Mormon and crack-head. He is definitely someone who has gone through some changes in his life.

See also ChickenBones: An Eldridge Cleaver Bio-Chronology

At the other extreme you have someone like Alan Keyes; a Regan Republican who seems to have run for president as a symbolic "Yassah, Mr. Boss." to the Man than anything else.

Then you have a number of past candidates who have been associated with the mainstream civil rights establishment like Al Sharpton , Shirley Chisholm and Jesse Jackson.

But of course nowadays, much of the media's attention is being placed on Barack Hussein Obama. A lot of the excitement about Obama's possible candidacy dates back to The Audacity of Hope Barack Obama's Address at the 2004 Democratic Convention.

other reflections and thoughts on Obama's candidacy:
The Times Online:Obama's charm lost on America's black activists looks at some of the wrinkles between Obama in the civil right's establishment.
NPR: Obama, or a History of Black Presidents of the U.S.

One of the more interesting characters in this subject area is Dr. Lenora Fulani. Fulani ran for President in 1988 as the candidate of the New Alliance Party. She received 0.2% of the vote, or almost a quarter of a million votes, and was the first African American independent on the ballot in all 50 states. She's been one of the strongest voices in favor of Black political independence (from the two-party system) and has been willing to work with everyone from Al Sharpton to Pat Buchanan.

If you want to get a taste of her perspective on the last presidential race check out
Black Electorate: "The Real Al Sharpton" by Dr. Lenora Fulani.

And you can get more of an overview of her organizing activities at:
www.independentvoting.org

Finally, in the musical world we have:
South African singer Brenda Fassie's rather prophetic song "Black President" about Nelson Mandela (several years before Mandela became South Africa's first President elected in free and open elections. (I wish I could find the actual song in a downloadable form. I have the single on tape and it is actually really good song).

And of course in hip-hop we have:
Dead Prez's Website
Original Hip-Hop Lyrics Archive: Dead Prez
Wikipedia: Dead Prez

Grenada's past:
if al gore was president aka black presidents (part three)
black presidents (part two)
black presidents (part one)

Monday, January 29, 2007

more on lupe fiasco

Alt.Muslim: Muslim Rapper "Walks" To The Top Of The Charts by Zahir Janmohamed gives a heads up to the musical career of Muslim hip-hop artist, Lupe Fiasco.

see also Grenada's Past:
lupe fiasco

Thursday, January 25, 2007

the iraq war and america's economic imperialism

ZNet: The Iraq War and America's Economic Imperialism by Manning Marable. Hint: Follow the money.

the shame of guantanamo exposed in cuba

Common Dreams: The Shame of Guantanamo Exposed in Cuba is an article by Medea Benjamin who participated in a recent demonstration near the prison on January 11 to commemorate the 5-yearanniversary of the first prisoners being taken there. The link to the entire article is above but here is an excerpt:
“This is the closest I have been to my son in almost 5 years,” said Zohra Zewawi, the mother of Guantanamo prisoner Omar Deghayes, as she stood in front of the gates of the prison on the Cuban side. “On the one hand I feel incredibly sad that I am so close but can’t see or hold him; on the other hand I am happy because focusing the world’s attention on this shameful place might help get my son out of prison.”

While protests were happening all over the world to commemorate the 5th anniversary of the first prisoners taken to Guantanamo on January 11, 2002, a group of us traveled to the city of Guantanamo to bring our protest close to the gates of the US prison.

This is not the first time tragedy has befallen the Deghayes family. Zohra’s husband, a labor lawyer in Libya, was killed by the government of Col. Omar Qaddafi. Zohra fled to England to raise her five children. “The dictator Qaddafi tortured and imprisoned my husband; now the U.S., a country I thought was civilized, is doing the same thing to my son,” she said.

For the people of Guantanamo, our visit gave them insights into the horrors of the prison, but hope that people around the world are working to shut it down. “My city used to be known for Jose Marti’s beautiful poem and the song Guantanamera. It pains us that now we’re known worldwide for the infamous prison on the US base,” said Eneida Leiva Molina, head of the Guantanamo Friendship Institute. “We hope that once this anniversary is over, people will continue to work to shut the prison down.

For more information from Grenada's past, check out: Cagedprisoners.com

sleeper cell: the second season

So... I recently found a website where I could see the first few episodes of Sleeper Cell's second season. In some ways, the second season seems to suffer from the same limitations as the first season which I've mentioned before (see sleeper cell (part 2)) but fewer of the positives. Little or no emphasis is put on the faith of the main character, Darwyn the African-American Muslim FBI agent (which is unfortunate since it provided some interesting contrast and tension in the first season). In a similar vein, the government characters are generally portrayed as less compassionate, competent and ethical than they were in the first season. Instead of being about a sincere Muslim who has to carefully negotiate and come to terms with various loyalties and identities (keeping his own faith and integrity, not blowing his cover, and fighting against those who would betray his nation and his ummah) in this season, both the government characters and the Muslim villans seem painted in broader strokes and so the story seems more cartoonish than before.

I'm not sure of whether this is a good thing or not but the cell members are being portrayed in a more diverse way (e.g. a female member, a Latino ex-gangbanger) I've read that there is also a gay Muslim member of the terror cell but that is not totally obvious from the episodes I've seen. (Although if the claim is true, it is definitely forshadowed). On the one hand this is good in the sense that it shows some of the diversity which exists in the Muslim community. On the other hand, it gives the impression that all Muslims could be terrorists.

Perhaps I'll be able to say more as I see more of the season.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

if al gore was president aka black presidents (part three)

I am still in the middle of working on a series of blog entires on the theme of Black presidents. A few of the articles and essays I've found so far deal realistically with the obstacles and prospects faced by Black candidates. Others deal with historical candidates. Most of the items so far have more to do with imaginative and visionary utopian scenarios.

The following clip falls into the utopian category. It doesn't really fit into the series (unless you consider the fact that Gore served under Bill Clinton, whom Toni Morrison famously called the first Black President.) But the premise is that there is an alternate universe where Gore became President after the 2000 elections. How different would our situation be if that had been the case? Rogue glaciers. Mexiforia. Universal Health Care. Six Flags Tehran. Check it out. It cracked me up the first time I saw it. And note, it is really Al Gore, not an actor.

SNL: If Al Gore was President: (video , transcript)

marvin x speaks

Marvin X Speaks is a new blog by a brother who has been a frequent subject over at Planet Grenada. Also check out: more marvin x

Friday, January 19, 2007

happy new year y'all

Today is the first of Muharram 1428. Ashurah is approaching. Get ready.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

liber decatriarchia mystica

I was reading online and found out about a book which has been hyped-up in the most amazing way. The book is called Liber Decatriarchia Mystica and is written by Wahid Azal (who in the past has gone by the name of Nima Hazini). My understanding is that he is an ex-Bahai who later became a Babi (a member of the religion which was the Bahai faith's most immediate ancestor) but that now he is on a much more ecclectic and individualistic path which is influenced by Babism, Qabbalah, Islam, shamanism and the teachings of Aleister Crowley.
One review says:
This book introduces the Qabbalah of Bayani Gnostic Universalism via the qabbalistic Tree of Reality of 13 Spheres and 36 Subtle-Ray Pathways. The main portion of the work is the author's inspired re-write of the Sefer Yetzirah (Book of Creation) to reflect this qabbalistic Tree. LIBER DECATRIARCHIA MYSTICA is Hermeticism, the post-Islamic Bayani gnostic path and the High Sufism of Ibn 'Arabi married to shamanism and Qabbalah. The author also challenges prevailing assumptions regarding the legitimacy of Rabbinic Judaism, Paulianist Christianity, Sunni Islam and modern Baha'ism. This book, not for the feint hearted, is sure to generate controversy. The author advocates for a Liberation Theosophy and the establishment of a Theophanocracy by a Universal Global Gnostic Ecclesia. This is a Green leftwing political manifesto and a high esoteric magnum opus all rolled into one!

A second review I found adds:
Azal also re-appropriates the discourse of gnosis and esotericism away from the Right and brings it back to the (Green) Left by arguing for a Liberation Theosophy and Theophanocracy. If Che Guevara and Franz Fanon were to meet Jacob Boehme and the Sufi Ibn ‘Arabi, fuse into one person, we would find Wahid Azal, a radical twenty-first century prophet of gnosis and a Nietzchean “esoteric” Zarathustra for our times.

I would probably disagree with Wahid Azal on a large number of points (especially Crowley I think) but I was still struck by the range of influences he invokes in his work. I found the description of the book incredibly provocative (although not tempting enough to justify the price). What resonates the most with me is the idea that in some ways Planet Grenada also brings together wildly disparate topics and influences. (including Guevara, Fanon, Ibn' Arabi, Liberation Theology, something similar to Theosophy, and even some Nietzsche on the side). My hope is that somehow I've managed to be deep without being esoteric, broad and comprehensive while coherent, spiritual while remaining socially relevant. How am I doing?

ahmadinejad to tour latin america

La Voz De Aztlan
January 11, 2007

Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to tour Central and South America

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is scheduled to begin a four day tour of Venezuela, Ecuador, Nicaragaua, Bolivia and other Central and South American countries on Saturday.

President Ahmadinejad will begin his tour in Caracas, Venezuela where he will meet with President Hugo Chavez Frias. His next stop will be Managua, Nicaragua where talks with the president-elect Daniel Ortega are scheduled. On Monday, President Ahmadinejad will attend the swearing-in ceremony of Ecuador's new president Rafael Correa, who won his country's presidential election last November. President-elect Rafael Correa will not be renewing the lease for the US military air base on Ecuador's pacific coast. President Ahmadinejad will also hold meetings with other South American presidents including Bolivia's Evo Morales, before completing his tour on Tuesday.

There are growing strong ties between many Latin American countries and Islam. The reasons are historically based. Both have suffered tremendously because of USA imperialist tendencies. Even today, there are still some countries in the region that have puppet regimes subservient to the USA. There are quite a few puppet regimes in the Middle East as well and the USA is presently struggling to implant a new one in Iraq.

zimbabwe and cuba: birds of a feather

Black Electorate: Zimbabwe And Cuba: Birds Of A Feather by Obi Egbuna briefly sketches some of the similarities between Zimbabwe and Cuba in terms of their relationship to Western (neo-)colonialism.

heading to hajj

Here is another recent piece on Hajj. This time, it is from Su'ad Abdul-Khabeer, a black Latina Muslim spoken word artist and emerging scholar. Her work has already been published in the anthology of writings by American Muslim women called Living Islam Out Loud. This time, her article Hajj Journal: Heading to Hajj appears on Beliefnet. Especially in the context of Planet Grenada, probably the most remarkably thing about this piece is how typical it is.
Allah has basically said, "Su'ad, come to My house," and I replied, with tears streaming down my face, "Labbayka Allahuma Labbayk!"
Hajj is not about being Black or Latino or American. Fundamentally it is just about a human being coming before their Lord (as a Muslim).

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

alice coltrane (1937-2007)

Alice Coltrane's recent passing has reminded me of a subject we've talked about before here at Planet Grenada; the relationship between people of African descent and "Oriental" spiritual traditions. For example, Saul Williams suggests that by turning away from the East we risk being lost and literally dis/oriented. Williams is fond of quoting Paul Robeson on this point:
The man who accepts Western values absolutely finds his creative faculties becoming so warped and stunted that he is almost completely dependent on external satisfactions, and the moment he becomes frustrated in his search for these, he begins to develop neurotic symptoms, to feel that life is not worth living.

In the past we've had glimpses of various creative figures who have "turned to the East" to find fulfillment. In Alice Coltrane's case, she made a full-conversion towards Vedic religion (Hinduism) and became a follower of Sai Baba (who in the United States is probably most identified with the brand of Nag Champa incense manufactured by his "ministry"). Carlos Santana followed Sri Chimnoy for a while but eventually started to follow a more ecclectic individual path. Others, like Williams himself, have sampled from the insights of Eastern religion while remaining rooted elsewhere. We might even place Martin Luther King Jr. in this last category because, even though his non-violent philosophy can obviously be justified and supported by the teachings attributed to Christ in the New Testament, King was also influenced by Gandhi's precedent of using non-violent methods to encourage the end of British rule in India.

john coltrane
carlos santana
saul williams
guess who's comming to dharma
we be broke while other folks' cash registers be like "i ching" "i ching" "i ching"

Some other ideas and connections are comming to mind and I imagine we will revist this topic later. For example, should Islam be seen as "Eastern" or "Western"? and How does Black Orientalism fit into the picture?

Monday, January 15, 2007

return of the king

mlk2

Here is Return of the King, the famous (or infamous) Boondocks episode about what would happen if instead of dying back in 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. had merely fallen into a coma for several decades and revived in time to get caught up in the anti-progressive 9/11 backlash. Even though some figures in the civil-rights establishment definitely had a problem with it, I thought that the level of self-criticism and self-reflection implied by "Martin Luther King"'s speech at the end was appropriate. Now that I think about it, Oprah Winfrey's role in the episode was rather ironic given that she has also recently gotten in "trouble" for making some Cosby-esque comments about African-American youth.

or for more info on the episode, check out: Return of the King

no wonder they shot him

Google Video: Why I am Opposed to the War in Vietnam is from a sermon King delivered at the Ebenezer Baptist Church, April 30, 1967 (the same month as his Beyond Vietnam speech and similar in content) If King were alive today he would definitely still be under FBI surveillance (assuming he wasn't in Guantanamo). In a scathing critique, he connects concerns about racism and poverty to a growing militarism. He also underlines the inconsistency of how the press will praise him for promoting non-violence against domestic racists but will "curse and damn" him for saying "Be nonviolent toward little brown... children". Here King even gives a strident call for a revolution (of values) so that America might be on the right side of the world revolution. No wonder they shot him... I'm not even kidding.

an excerpt:
Don't let anybody make you think that God chose America as His divine messianic force to be -- a sort of policeman of the whole world. God has a way of standing before the nations with judgment, and it seems that I can hear God saying to America: "You are too arrogant! If you don't change your ways, I will rise up and break the backbone of your power, and I will place it in the hands of a nation that doesn't even know my name."

we should all have the same dream

From TheArab-AmericanNews.com: We should all have the same dream briefly comments on the significance of Martin Luther King's legacy for Arabs in the United States.

the war over king's legacy

Newsweek: The War over King's Legacy by Vern E. Smith and Jon Meacham revisits the question of how King is ultimately to be perceived: Moderate integrationist? Radical democratic socialist? Aspiring vice-presidential candidate? None of the above?

roots of latino/black anger

In a recent L.A. Times opinion piece titled Roots of Latino/black anger, Tanya K. Hernandez mentions some recent examples of violence between Blacks and Latinos on the West Coast and explores the historical, cultural and economic origins of the apparent animosity.

see also:
the myth of la's race war
summit of latino and african american race relations

Saturday, January 13, 2007

in preparation for mlk day

I think I've been getting a little lazy in terms of finding brand new content but some of my readers have told me that they like seeing a collection of links brought together on a particular theme or topic. I definitely plan on getting some new MLK content as the upcoming holiday approaches but in the meantime I'll bring back some of last year's posts.

One idea which I defintely tried to get across last year is that Martin Luther King was much more radical than many people typically realize. He is often seen and presented as an establishment figure, comforting, non-threatening. His image is so "establishment" that even conservative Republicans feel safe quoting him (either out of ignorance or cynicism) in order to oppose affirmative action. In reality, he was very critical of American foreign policy, even to the point of calling the U.S. government "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today" in his Beyond Vietnam speech. He was also critical of capitalism as a system and advocated an alternative.

Check out:
he said what?
no seriously, he said what?
martin luther king, right?

It is tempting for some people to think that King just gave the "I have a dream" speech and that magically (see the magical negro) Civil Rights came into existence. But that just ignores the massive amounts of effort and energy put in by the people, united... Also, the dream speech does not even exhaust the scope or depth of King's thought. I really hope that the various media outlets will choose to highlight any other speech on Monday. But if you want to explore other parts of King's words and actions on your own, here are some nice mlk references

Finally, here is a beautiful poem (in Spanish) on Dr. King and his powerful black soul by former Cuban poet laureate, Nicolas Guillen called: ¿qué color?

the faith and the filth: performing hajj in 1427

For more on Latinos and Islam: A few minutes ago I sat down at the computer and caught the tail end of a story on the radio about Ulises A. Mejias and Asma Barlas going on Hajj. I don't think the audio file available on NPR's website yet, but Ulises does talk about it on his ideant blog under the name The Faith & the Filth: Performing Hajj in 1427.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

illegal mexican immigrant or islamic terrorist?

This image is originally from an anti-immigration site but I got it from the Women of Color Blog post: Game Time! We've definitely seen these juxtapositions before (e.g. the aztec al-qaeda or islam and mexico) so this is really nothing new. The quiz was probably meant to inspire exclusion and prejudice but maybe folks will flip it around. If "we all look alike" then maybe we need to manifest a lot more solidarity.

alien_or_terrorist2

belated holiday post...

another holiday issue I had wanted to mention:
For a couple of years now, some Bay Area Muslims have been organizing "Muslim Christmas" gatherings. It is one thing for me as an individual to enjoy time with my non-Muslim relatives during the holidays. But given the proximity of Eid al-Adha this year (December 30th or 31 depending on your community) it seemed totally unnecessary for a group of organized Muslims to piggyback (so to speak) onto Christmas. Between the two Eids, Ramadan and Ashurah [2] there are plenty of Islamic holidays. If you want more we could celebrate Mawlid (which some think of as controversial). And if you want even more than that you can include Laylat ul Isra' wa-l-Miraaj and also Laylat ul Bara'ah. At least, that route makes more sense than "Muslim Christmas".

All this from a Muslim who writes incessantly about Kwanzaa every year...

indiana jones and the temple of orientalism

As I was thinking about the Indiana Jones films and how they are set among people of "the East" (both Near and Far) and prominently feature Nazis (in the first and third films) I started to wonder if I could find commentaries on the films which wrestled with issues of orientalism and racism.

So far I've only found two:
Steven Spielberg's Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom as Virtual Reality: The Orientalist and Colonial Legacies of Gunga Din by Dr. Kaizaad Navroze Kotwal is more of an academic piece which focuses on Temple of Doom and places it in a larger context of post-colonial studies.

Reflections: Director's cut by Hani Shukrallah, on the other hand, was published in Al-Ahram Weekly and isn't really about Raiders of the Lost Ark (which Shukrallah describes as "possibly one of the most blatantly racist films ever produced by Hollywood") as much as it uses a scene from the film (the one where Indiana Jones shoots the swordsman in the Egyptian souq) as a vehicle to talk about the condition of the Arab world in modern times.

When you really break it down, it is pretty easy to criticize certain racial/cultural aspects of the various films. For example Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom was even banned in India on the grounds of "racist portrayal of Indians and overt imperialistic tendencies". I'm starting to realize that if it weren't for the Nazis (or the murderous Thugees in the second film) which make him seem heroic by comparison, it would be harder to distinguish Indiana Jones from an ordinary grave robber. On the other hand, the portrayal of the Thugees and the other "Orientals" throughout the series is itself problematic.

Monday, January 08, 2007

indiana jones and the spear of destiny

I was recently reading about Nazi mysticism and thinking on how there is allegedly a fourth Indiana Jones movie in the works (apparently most of the pre-production is done and release is planned for 2008). It made me wonder; if Indiana Jones has already discovered the Ark of the Covenant and the Holy Grail, what else is left for him to find? Considering how bad Temple of Doom was compared to the other two movies I thought it would be best if they stuck to Judeo-Christian relics. But then the only item which seemed of comparable significance to the Holy Grail was the Spear of Destiny. The Spear which was allegedly used to pierce the side of Christ on the cross has already appeared elsewhere in popular culture. (For example, it plays important roles in the film Constantine and the made-for-tv Indiana Jones knock-off, The Librarian: Quest for the Spear.)

Well, it turns out that great minds think alike (or fools never differ). At least one blogger posted his or her own synopsis for the hypothetical Indiana Jones and the Spear of Destiny. On another site, a fan wrote a partial script with the same title (along with other fan scripts such as the rather polemical Indiana Jones and the Blade of Abraham) A recent discussion of the upcoming film, New "Indiana Jones"? also suggests using the Spear of Destiny. Basically, everyone and their mom is thinking along the same lines.

The surprising thing (or not so surprising to some) is that all of us are horribly slow and Indiana Jones and the Spear of Destiny already exists... as a comic book and it was even almost made into a video game. I'll try to check it out the next time I walk into a comic book store.

But I'm still thinking that a film version of Indiana Jones and the Spear of Destiny could be done (or re-done) in a powerful and effective way. Perhaps Jones could get the Spear from the Nazis and he turns it over to the US government towards the end of WWII, around the time of Hiroshima, and the film could end suggesting that we still have it today. (damn! that could be deep) Does anyone out there have other suggestions for what the fourth Indiana Jones movie could be about? Finding the Garden of Eden? the True Cross? Noah's Ark?

Sunday, January 07, 2007

shaykh homie

I'm currently in the middle of reading The Sufis by Idries Shah. In some (traditional Muslim/Sufi) circles, Shah is highly criticized because he takes the position that one can be Sufi without being Muslim. For him Sufism is a reality which existed eternally and in particular, it predates the birth of Muhammad (saaws) on the Arabian Peninsula. In other circles, Shah is also criticized for his involvement in witchcraft and magic. (This is detailed a little in the Wikipedia article). Personally I would not go along with Shah's definition of "Sufism" but it isn't difficult to read the book while keeping in mind that when Shah says "Sufi" he is merely talking about something different from what I mean when I say "Sufi". In any case, in the book's Introduction (by Robert Graves) I found an interesting passage which I felt like sharing, especially since it resonated with something I've blogged about before. Graves writes:
The court fool of the Spanish kings with his bladder stick, his motely clothes, cock crest, jingling bells, simple wisdom and utter disrespect of authority is a Sufi figure. His jokes were accepted by sovereigns as having a deeper wisdom than the most solemn advice of eldest concillors.

Sound familiar? This is Homie the Clown, a figure with a very old pedigree. In an earlier post "homie don't play that" we already saw some Spanish and Afro-Latin precursors to Homie. But in terms of the blog, I thought it was a fascinating coincidence that Graves would describe the same figure as a Sufi as well. Very Grenada-esque.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

even more on (and from) brother keith

Recently Laury posted: Keith Ellison Story, Film, Interview, and Essay over at www.progressiveislam.org. The post includes more details on the Jefferson Quran and the whole situation, a film of the swearing-in, an interview with Ellison where he gives a little more detail about his faith and his politics, and finally an essay by Ellison where he encourages Americans to embrace a broader, more inclusive, more "generous" vision of the country.

Friday, January 05, 2007

the pen and the sword

Unity Productions Foundation: The Pen and the Sword is one of many projects trying to put more positive historical images of Muslims and Islamic civilization out in the media. The Pen and the Sword deals with inter-religious relations in Medieval Spain. And Prince Among Slaves deals with the story of Abdul Rahman Ibrahima Sori, an African prince who was enslaved in Mississippi from 1788 to 1828 when he finally won his freedom and returned to Africa. Check them out.

more on ellison and the jefferson quran

I kind of wish I had been as informative. Here are more details about the situation from Sadiq M. Alam's blog, Inspirations and Creative Thoughts in an entry called: Keith Ellison, Thomas Jefferson's Quran and America's embrace of diversity

Thursday, January 04, 2007

some "final" thoughts on kwanzaa

I'm still a little surprised by the Kwanzaa backlash (e.g. Jerry Falwell's War On Kwanzaa or Ann Coulter). The holiday period has apparently gone from being an obscure cultural nationalist celebration to being a dangerous threat to the right-wing. I'm honestly not sure where this over-reaction is coming from. Sadly, the most common anti-Kwanzaa argument found in the blogosphere recently is also the least logical (i.e. an ad homiem attack on Karenga, the founder of the holiday). What the critics don't seem to realize is that Kwanzaa is not intended as Maulana Karenga Day. In my opinion, its validity as a holiday has more to do with the value of Pan-Africanism and the specific principles of the Nguzo Saba. Even if you want to argue that Karenga was a bastard, the important issue has to do with the values of unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith.

makes me want to smile

In a rather elegant response to the people who were calling him unAmerican for choosing to use a Quran for his swearing-in ceremony, Keith Ellison will be using a Quran once owned by Thomas Jefferson. Nice.