Monday, December 31, 2012

si dios fuera negro

I was listening to the radio a few nights ago when I heard the song "Si Dios Fuera Negro" (If God was black...). At first I thought the song seemed radical and subversive along the lines of El Mundo Va Acabarse or the Five Percenter theology. But on further consideration I've decided its really more in line with other mild and understated "protests" in Afro-latin music such as Negro Bembon or No Le Pegue a la Negra, after all, the song seems to presuppose and reenforce the idea that God is actually white.

food, health and the new year

As the year closes I've been trying to read through different books I have on health and food to try to come up with a plan for next year; a personalized mix of (in no particular order) Andrew Weil, Oprah, Joel Fuhrman, Imam ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya, Al-Ghazali, Atkins, Dean Ornish and others. I'm still trying to decide which rules I'm going to follow strictly and which are going to be "soft".

between afrocentrism and islam

I've recently been "channel-surfing" on YouTube and found a number of different discussions/ debates on Islam and black authenticity. The basic bone of contention is whether Islam should be viewed as a "white" Arab creation foreign to Africa or should Islam be viewed as an integral part of African life. Among the more vocal defenders of the latter position are Dr. Wesley Muhammad and the Allah Team along with the authors behind the Black Arabia blog. Dr. Muhammad is an interesting puzzle in that has a doctorate in Islamic Studies from the University of Michigan but is also follower of Elijah Muhammad (He started off as a Five Percenter with the name "True Islam" but now he is a follower of Louis Farrakhan). So in his published works he actually engages with the orthodox Islamic tradition in a serious way while departing from it at various points. Michael Muhammad Knight shares some of his own thoughts on this paradoxical situation in a recent talk at Harvard:
For a more "orthodox" view of how Africa and its diaspora overlaps with Muslim life, I would recommend checking out: Third Resurrection

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

if they could get their act together it would be like "wonder twin powers, activate!"

 Lawrence Lessig: Occupy Movement Should Join Forces With Tea Party

insights with dr. sherman jackson

Insights with Dr. Sherman Jackson from ALIM Program on Vimeo.
h/t to Marc Manley

idle no more

Idle No More calls on all people to join in a revolution which honors and fulfills Indigenous sovereignty which protects the land and water. Colonization continues through attacks to Indigenous rights and damage to the land and water. We must repair these violations, live the spirit and intent of the treaty relationship, work towards justice in action, and protect Mother Earth. On December 10th, Indigenous people and allies stood in solidarity across Canada to assert Indigenous sovereignty and begin the work towards sustainable, renewable development. All people will be affected by the continued damage to the land and water and we welcome Indigenous and non-Indigenous allies to join in creating healthy sustainable communities. We encourage youth to become engaged in this movement as you are the leaders of our future. There have always been individuals and groups who have been working towards these goals – Idle No More seeks to create solidarity and further support these goals. We recognize that there may be backlash, and encourage people to stay strong and united in spirit.

Plan of Action: Support and encourage grassroots to create their own forums to learn more about Indigenous rights and our responsibilities to our Nationhood via teach-ins, rallies and social media. Build relationships and create understanding with allies across Canada. Take steps to contribute to building relationships with international agencies such as the UN to raise awareness to the conditions Indigenous people have been subjected to and assert our sovereignty in the international arena. Acknowledge and honor the hard work of all grassroots people who have worked, and continue to work towards these goals – you are our inspiration.

We contend that: 
The Treaties are nation to nation agreements between First Nations and the British Crown who are sovereign nations. The Treaties are agreements that cannot be altered or broken by one side of the two Nations. The spirit and intent of the Treaty agreements meant that First Nations peoples would share the land, but retain their inherent rights to lands and resources. Instead, First Nations have experienced a history of colonization which has resulted in outstanding land claims, lack of resources and unequal funding for services such as education and housing.  

We contend that: 
The state of Canada has become one of the wealthiest countries in the world by using the land and resources. Canadian mining, logging, oil and fishing companies are the most powerful in the world due to land and resources. Some of the poorest First Nations communities (such as Attawapiskat) have mines or other developments on their land but do not get a share of the profit. The taking of resources has left many lands and waters poisoned – the animals and plants are dying in many areas in Canada. We cannot live without the land and water. We have laws older than this colonial government about how to live with the land.

We contend that: 
Currently, this government is trying to pass many laws so that reserve lands can also be bought and sold by big companies to get profit from resources. They are promising to share this time…Why would these promises be different from past promises? We will be left with nothing but poisoned water, land and air. This is an attempt to take away sovereignty and the inherent right to land and resources from First Nations peoples.

We contend that: 
There are many examples of other countries moving towards sustainability, and we must demand sustainable development as well. We believe in healthy, just, equitable and sustainable communities and have a vision and plan of how to build them. Please join us in creating this vision.

Monday, November 19, 2012

preparing for a post israel middle east?

So what is all the fuss about?

It’s a paper entitled “Preparing For A Post Israel Middle East”, an 82-page analysis that concludes that the American national interest in fundamentally at odds with that of Zionist Israel. The authors conclude that Israel is currently the greatest threat to US national interests because its nature and actions prevent normal US relations  with  Arab and  Muslim countries and, to a growing degree, the wider international community.

The study was commissioned by the US Intelligence Community comprising 16 American intelligence agencies with an annual budget in excess of $ 70 billion. The IC includes the Departments of the Navy, Army, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, Defense Intelligence Agency, Departments of Energy, Homeland Security, State, Treasure, Drug Enforcement Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Security Agency, National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, National Reconnaissance Agency and the Central Intelligence Agency commissioned the study.
Among the many findings [...] are the following:
  • Israel, given its current brutal occupation and belligerence cannot  be salvaged any more than apartheid south Africa could be when as late as 1987 Israel was the only “Western” nation that upheld diplomatic ties with South Africa and was the last country to join the international boycott campaign before the regime collapsed;
  • The Israel leadership, with its increasing support of the 700,000 settlers in illegal colonies in the occupied West Bank is increasing out of touch with the political, military and economic realities of the Middle East;
  • The post Labor government Likud coalition is deeply complicit with and influenced by the settlers’ political and financial power and will increasingly face domestic civil strife which the US government should not associate itself with or become involved with;
  • The Arab Spring and Islamic Awakening has to a major degree freed a large majority of the 1.2 billion Arab and Muslims to pursue what an overwhelming majority believe is the illegitimate, immoral and unsustainable European occupation of Palestine of the indigenous population;
  • Simultaneous with, but predating, rapidly expanding Arab and Muslim power in the region as evidenced by the Arab spring, Islamic Awakening and the ascendancy of Iran, as American power and influence recedes,  the US commitment to belligerent oppressive Israel is becoming impossible to defend or execute consistent given paramount US national interests which include normalizing relations with the 57 Islamic countries;
  • Gross Israeli interference in the internal affairs of the United States through spying and illegal US arms transfers. This includes supporting more than 60 ‘front organizations’ and  approximately 7,500 US officials who do Israel’s bidding and seek to dominate and intimidate the media and agencies of  the US government which should no longer be condoned;
  • That the United States government no longer has the financial resources, or public support to continue funding Israel. The billions of dollars in direct and indirect aid from US taxpayers to Israel since 1967 is not affordable and is increasingly being objected to by US taxpayers who oppose continuing American military involvement in the Middle East. US public opinion no longer supports funding and executing widely perceived illegal US wars on Israel’s behalf. This view is increasingly being shared by Europe, Asia and the International public;
  • Israel’s segregationist occupation infrastructure evidenced by  legalized discrimination and increasingly separate and unequal justice systems must no longer be directly or indirectly funded by the US taxpayers or  ignored by the US government;
  • Israel has failed as a claimed democratic state and continued American financial and political cover will not change its continuing devolution as international pariah state;
  • Increasingly,  rampant and violent racism exhibited among Jewish settlers in the West Bank is being condoned by the Israeli government to a degree  that the Israel government has become its protector and partner;
  • The expanding chasm  among American Jews objecting to Zionism and Israeli practices, including the killing and brutalizing of Palestinians under Israeli occupation,  are gross violations of American and International law and raise questions within the US Jewish community regarding the American responsibility to protect (R2P) innocent civilians under occupation;
  • The international opposition to the increasingly  apartheid regime can no longer be synchronized with American claimed  humanitarian values or US expectations in its bi-lateral relations with the 193 member United Nations;
  • The Draft ends with language about the need to avoid entangling alliances that alienate much of the World and condemn American citizens to endure the consequences.
Interestingly, it notes Iran as an example of a country and people that have much in common and whose citizens have a real interest in enjoy bilateral associations (here an apparent reference to Israel and its US lobby) not determined by the wishes of other countries and their agents. It also highlights the need for the US to undertake the repairing of relations with Arab and Muslim countries, including the drastically curtained use of drone aircraft.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

"who is it that will lend to allah a beautiful loan... ?"

While the original concept of a Jubilee comes from the Bible, we can certainly find similar teachings in the Quran: Who is he that will Loan to Allah a beautiful loan? for (Allah) will increase it manifold to his credit, and he will have (besides) a liberal Reward. (57:11)

The idea behind the current project is elegantly simple: "A bailout of the people by the people. We buy debt for pennies on the dollar, but instead of collecting it, we abolish it. We cannot buy specific individuals' debt - instead, we help liberate debtors at random through a campaign of mutual support, good will, and collective refusal."

For more info, check out:

Sunday, November 04, 2012

you are here to wake up

Judging from sites like Esoteric Tube it seems like there is a growing genre of videos involving monotone voice-overs on top of sparse electronic music put together with provocative sequences of images (frequent choices include fractals, time lapsed nature scenes, astronomical and microscopic pictures) where the message is faintly New Age-y, spiritual-but-not-religious, conspiratorial, mildly anti-government and anti-corporate. One of the first such clips I've seen was Zeitgeist. Another film which is oddly beautiful and simple called "You Are Here to Wake Up" is below. I especially like the references to "They Live" and "The Matrix": 


Thursday, October 25, 2012

love, gnosis & other suicide attempts

Amir Sulaiman's poems in Love, Gnosis & Other Suicide Attempts are simultaneously spiritual and sensual; threatening and vulnerable. Sulaiman's voice is between a flood and a firestorm. In the spirit of Rumi and Attar, his poems engage sensuality with a kind of religious devotion and engage religious devotion with sensuous fervor. He exposes the reader to the pleasure found in suffering; the ecstasy found in brokenness. Love, Gnosis & Other Suicide Attempts is often frighteningly gorgeous; other times humbly surrendering, but always honest.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

admiral general haffaz aladeen on the virtues of dictatorship

I've had issues with Sacha Baron Cohen's comedy before and watching "The Dictator" certainly didn't ease those concerns. At the end of the day he is still a Jewish man making fun of Arabs/Muslims/Islamicate people through buffoonish portrayals (The Dictator, Borat and arguably Ali G). Even in Bruno, where Baron Cohen plays a gay Austrian fashion reporter, he didn't take a break from making fun of Arabs ( see: Ayman Abu Aita, Bruno's "Terrorist," Threatens Legal Action) Even so, I just saw The Dictator last night and had to admit that this scene was pretty funny. 

Monday, October 01, 2012

when savages unite

Mark Gonzalez, a Chicano Muslim spoken-word artist responds to Pamela Geller's racist ad campaign (what is the product? who is buying? who is selling?) by making some "beautiful" connections between indigenous struggles everywhere.

zain malik on w. kamau bell's totally biased

Debbie Schlussel, an insane blogger, has recently been crafting some bizarre claims that Zain Malik, a Muslim member of the boy band, One Direction, is a "pimp" for Islam by enticing young girls to participate in jihad. Schlussel's theories were expertly and entertainingly skewered on W. Kamau Bell's new show, Totally Biased.


The Sun: One Direction's Zayn branded a ‘pimp’ for Islam 

See also: 

Monday, September 24, 2012

pastafarian facebook page leads to blasphemy arrest in greece

HuffPost: Pastafarian Facebook Page Leads To Blasphemy Arrest In Greece

muslims are no different

Muslims are no Different, or why Bill Maher’s blood libel is Bigotry by Juan Cole

are muslims nuts?

In spite of the provocative title, Are Muslims Nuts? by Haroon Moghul is actually one of the more thoughtful and thought-provoking discussions of the whole Innocence of Muslims affair that I've seen.

azhar ahmed and the limits of free speech

The current controversy over the film Innocence of Muslims has got me thinking about the ways in which the West has its own taboos and sacred cows which potentially trump freedom of speech. One very recent example is the case of Azhar Ahmed, a 19 in West Yorkshire who was convicted of posting an offensive message on Facebook in the wake of the deaths of six UK soldiers in Afghanistan.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

jumah at the dnc

The Bureau of Indigenous Muslim Affairs is holding a Jumah Prayer at the Democratic National Convention along with a series of other Muslim events. I'm hoping the conspiracy theories don't get too thick.

totally radical muslims

Totally Radical Muslims Presents: Islamophopia, A Bitchin’ Zine! seems like an amazing project. I wish I could get a copy.

Monday, August 06, 2012

the sense of white supremacy

Racist attacks are authorized by a political culture that allows us to think in nativist terms, to bemoan the “browning” of America. By 2034, the Census department estimates, the non-white population of the US is going to be in the majority. With the political class unwilling to reverse the tide of jobless growth and corporate power, the politicians stigmatize the outsider as the problem of poverty and exploitation. This stigmatization, as Moishe Postone argues, obscures “the role played by capitalism in the reproduction of grief.” Far easier to let the Sikhs and the Latinos, the Muslims and the Africans bear the social cost for economic hopelessness and political powerlessness than to target the real problem: the structures that benefit the 1% and allow them to luxuriate in Richistan.

michele bachman thankful no americans died in sikh shooting

The Onion: Michele Bachmann Thankful No Americans Died In Sikh Shooting

Friday, April 13, 2012

"on a quiet day i can hear her breathing"

Our strategy should be not only to confront empire, but to lay siege to it. To deprive it of oxygen. To shame it. To mock it. With our art, our music, our literature, our stubbornness, our joy, our brilliance, our sheer relentlessness : and our ability to tell our own stories. Stories that are different from the ones we're being brainwashed to believe. The corporate revolution will collapse if we refuse to buy what they are selling : their ideas, their version of history, their wars, their weapons, their notion of inevitability.Remember this: We be many and they be few. They need us more than we need them. Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.

From: "Confronting Empire" by Arundhati Roy, Porto Alegre, Brazil January 27, 2003

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

tedx ramallah - mark gonzalez: wage beauty

Poet. Scholar. Lover of Life. Mark Gonzales is an HBO Def Poet with a Master's in Education, a Mexican and a Muslim, a Khalil Gibran meets Pablo Neruda in a lyrical break dance cypher, Mark lives in the center of intersections. From Palestinian refugee camps, universities in Beirut, foster homes in Portugal, to cities across the Americas, he transcends citizenship identity to break borders and wage beauty across continents through culture. He is respected internationally for his creative approaches to suicide prevention, human rights and human development via performance, photojournalism, and narrative therapy

See also:
Planet Grenada: mark gonzalez: audio intefadeh

sherman jackson on trayvon martin

Huffington Post: Trayvon Martin: Between 'Whitening' and Bad Law

Thursday, March 22, 2012

the chronic-WHAT!-cles of calormen

For a while now I've been thinking about getting back to writing (I haven't written a new poem in ages). More specifically, I'm thinking about writing stories which riff off of C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia. I'll spare you the details of what I'm planning (partly because I'm still figuring things out) except to say that I'm imagining a cross between Wicked and Game of Thrones... re-imagining the world of Narnia from a Calormen-centric perspective. (For those who don't know, the Calormen are basically a transmogrified version of Muslims who appear as villains in the Chronicles of Narnia.)

To look at what other folks have said about Lewis and his treatment of race and Orientalism in the Narnia books, you could check out:
Are The Chronicles of Narnia Sexist and Racist?
Red Dwarf, Black Dwarf: The Racial Overtones of Narnia
C.S. Lewis' Calormen: Exacerbating Ethnic Tensions?
So Why is She the White Witch?

For another look at Narnia with an eye towards concerns about gender and sexuality you might be interested in the short story, The Problem of Susan by Neil Gaiman.

see also:
fictional works using settings created by other artists

Sunday, March 18, 2012

thoughts on amina filali

As some of you may know, Amina Filali was a 16-year-old Moroccan girl who recently committed suicide with rat poison. She was raped at 15 but, through a combination of social, family and legal pressure, ended up marrying her rapist. (According to Article 475 of the Moroccan legal code, a rapist can be exonerated if they marry their victim). Her suicide was her response to more pain, abuse and misogyny than anyone should be expected to bear.

Huffington Post: Amina Filali, Morocco Rape Victim, Commits Suicide After Forced Marriage To Rapist
AP: Morocco suicide victim fell prey to society, laws

I don't in any way want to be an apologist for the kind of abuse Amina suffered. As human beings we should all want to see an end to such abuse in the world. And as Muslims concerned about the level of women's rights in Muslim countries, we should be appalled. At the same time, the following should be said.

1. Islam has nothing to do with this. The concept of family honor which is wrapped up in female sexuality/chastity/virginity is cultural and not Islamic. In Islam, ordinary chastity is enjoined on both men and women, but there is no religious basis for judging a female fornicator more harshly than a male fornicator. And of the many women Muhammad (saaws) chose to marry, only one had been a virgin at the time. If Muslims really believed in following the example of the prophet, there wouldn't be such a great stigma associated with marrying non-virgin women.

2. On the other hand, what happened to Amina Filali does seem to come straight out of the Old Testament:

Deuteronomy 22
[28] "If a man meets a virgin who is not betrothed, and seizes her and lies with her, and they are found, [29] then the man who lay with her shall give to the father of the young woman fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife, because he has violated her; he may not put her away all his days.

3. In fact, a little earlier in the same chapter is a description of the very public role female virginity played in the Biblical marriage process which deeply resonates with the cultural values behind things like honor killing:
[13] "If any man takes a wife, and goes in to her, and then spurns her, [14] and charges her with shameful conduct, and brings an evil name upon her, saying, `I took this woman, and when I came near her, I did not find in her the tokens of virginity,' [15] then the father of the young woman and her mother shall take and bring out the tokens of her virginity to the elders of the city in the gate; [16] and the father of the young woman shall say to the elders, `I gave my daughter to this man to wife, and he spurns her; [17] and lo, he has made shameful charges against her, saying, "I did not find in your daughter the tokens of virginity." And yet these are the tokens of my daughter's virginity.'

And they shall spread the garment before the elders of the city. [18] Then the elders of that city shall take the man and whip him; [19] and they shall fine him a hundred shekels of silver, and give them to the father of the young woman, because he has brought an evil name upon a virgin of Israel; and she shall be his wife; he may not put her away all his days.

[20] But if the thing is true, that the tokens of virginity were not found in the young woman, [21] then they shall bring out the young woman to the door of her father's house, and the men of her city shall stone her to death with stones, because she has wrought folly in Israel by playing the harlot in her father's house; so you shall purge the evil from the midst of you.

4. Muslim societies aren't frozen in time and we can see them changing. For example in the wake of Amina Filali's suicide, indigenous activists are calling for change.

Al Jazeera: Moroccans call for end to rape-marriage laws

5. As further evidence of the fact that this complex of ideas about family honor, rape and marriage is not Islamic, tragically there are similar rape-marriage laws in a large number of Christian majority countries as well (specifically most Latin American countries).

According to a 1997 New York Times piece Justice in Peru: Victim Gets Rapist for a Husband
In Peru the penal code exonerates a rapist if he offers to marry the victim and she accepts. The law, which was written in 1924, was modified in 1991 to absolve co-defendants in a rape case if one of them marries the victim.


Fourteen other Latin American countries exonerate a rapist if he offers to marry the victim and she accepts, said Gaby Ore-Aguilar, staff attorney with the international program of the Center for Reproductive Law and Policy. The law in Costa Rica, one of the 14, exonerates a rapist if he expresses an intention to marry the victim, even if she does not accept.

6. Misogyny is ultimtately deeper than religious polemics and should be treated that way if things are really going to get better for women.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

"my pride is racist people say, but no one minds st. patrick's day"

I've been "celebrating" St. Patrick's Day by listening to this particular black alternative rock anthem to DuBoisian double consciousness for a while now. ( Split Personality by Basehead) Enjoy. By the way, Planet Grenada is seven years old today. Wow.

see also: moors, snakes and st. patrick

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

louis reyes rivera (1945-2012)


Louis Reyes Rivera

Poet, essayist, editor, teacher, radio host, and union organizer with the National Writer Union, UAW Local 1981, Louis Reyes Rivera died in Brooklyn Hospital on Friday, March 2, following a brief illness. Serving as chair of the New York Chapter since 2004, Rivera was revered and beloved by all NWU members who saw him in action in New York and at Delegate Assemblies, providing leadership on union issues and performing his insightful poetry.

Calling himself the Janitor of History, Rivera is viewed as a living bridge between the African and Latino-American communities. Also called "the dean of Nuyorica Poetica," he is an internationally recognized literary figure, with translations of his work appearing in Russian, Latvian, Spanish, and Italian. Rivera published four books, including Who Pays The Cost (1978), This One For You (1983), In Control of English (1988 and 1992), and Scattered Scripture (1996), for which he received the 1997 poetry award from the Latin American Writers Institute. He had just completed his epic poem, Jazz in Jail, and was in the process of preparing it for publication.

Rivera was the recipient of dozens of awards, including a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship (2003), a Lifetime Achievement Award (1995), a Special Congressional Recognition Award (1988), and the CCNY 125th Anniversary Medal (1973) -- each of which was given in recognition of his scholarship and impact on contemporary literature. Since 1996, Rivera appeared at jazz festivals and clubs, working with such bands as The Sun Ra All-Stars Project, Ahmed Abdullah's Diaspora, Ebonic Tones, the James Spaulding Ensemble, and his own band, The Jazzoets. Last spring Rivera was inducted into the Brooklyn Jazz Hall of Fame. At his last public appearance on Feb. 11, Rivera was the featured poet at the American Jazz Museum’s Black History Month Salute to Jazz Poetry in Kansas City, Mo.

Over the past 40 years, Rivera assisted in the publication of well over 200 books, including Adal Maldonado's Portraits of the Puerto Rican Experience (IPRUS, 1984), John Oliver Killens' Great Black Russian (Wayne State, 1989), Bum Rush the Page: A Def Poetry Jam (Crown, 2001), co-edited with Tony Medina, and The Bandana Republic (Soft Skull Press, 2008). Rivera’s essays and poems appeared in numerous publications, including Areyto, Boletin (Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter), The City Sun, African Voices, and in several award-winning book collections, including In Defense of Mumia; ALOUD: Live from the Nuyorican Poets Cafe; and Of Sons and Lovers. He also appeared on the Peabody award-winning HBO show, “Def Poetry Jam.” Rivera completed the translation of Clemente Soto Veléz's Caballo de Palo/Broomstick Stallion and worked on the collected poems of Otto Rene Castillo of Guatemala, Por el Bien de Todos/For the Good of All.

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., on May 19, 1945, Rivera was raised there and a proud graduate of Boys High. He began studying the craft of writing in1960 and founded the continuing student publication, The Paper, at City College of New York. After graduation in 1969, Rivera started teaching and his influence as a teacher spanned many generations. He distinguished himself as a professor of creative writing, Pan-African literature, African-American culture and history, Caribbean history, Puerto Rican history, and Nuyorican literature at such institutions as State University of New York-Stony Brook, Hunter College, College of New Rochelle, LaGuardia College, Pratt Institute, and Boricua College, among others.

For 15 years beginning in 1996, Rivera hosted a reading series in Brooklyn, 1st & 3rd Sundays Jazzoetry & Open Mic @ Sistas' Place, where he also conducted writing workshops. For many years Rivera hosted the engaging radio talk and interview show, “Perspectives,” on New York radio station WBAI 99.5 FM (streamed at archives).

A political activist as well as a cultural icon, Rivera was active in the successful struggle for “open enrollment” at City College in1969. Since then he has participated in many progressive movement and activities, including supporting the establishment of the Freedom Party, which ran candidates in the 2010 New York State election. Rivera co-hosted two Writers for Mumia programs dedicated to freeing longtime political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal, one in 2007, the other in 2010.

Rivera is survived by his wife, Barbara Killens Rivera; two daughters, Abiba Deceus and Kutisha Booker; son Barra Wyn ; and four grandchildren, James Booker, Akalia Booker, Quamey Venable, and Jean-Oliver Deceus.

beyond the crescent and the cross

This seems like a positive project. For the original link, check here.

Call for Participants: Beyond and Between the Crescent and the Cross

My name is Kameelah Janan Rasheed and I am a photo-based artist, archivist & historian, writer, and high school teacher based in Brooklyn, NY. I am embarking on a new project that I have been dreaming about for over a decade. At 26, I feel ready to take on this project called BEYOND AND BETWEEN THE CRESCENT AND THE CROSS.

Working primarily as a photographer, but also as an oral historian and an archivist, I seek to document the varied ways people of African descent in America explore spirituality outside of the traditional iterations of Islam and Christianity. I was raised in Sunni Muslim family, attended a Catholic high school, and currently live in an Hasidic Jewish neighborhood in Brooklyn. Still a practicing Muslim, my curiosity piqued at the age of 15 when I began to research the Moorish Science Temple and Black self-proclaimed prophets of the early 1900s.

Looking beyond the hue diversity of my community, simply, I want to document our spiritual diversity. I want to hear stories. I want to ask questions. I want to connect paths. I am interested in interviewing and photographing self-identified Buddhists, Hindus, Jews, Rastafarians, Mormons, Moors, Five Percenters, non-identifying, Agnostics, Atheists, etc. of African descent/Black based in the United Stated. Let’s connect. The end “product” of this work is an audio and photography-based exhibit that will start as a growing web-based archive. If you are interested in being interviewed and/or photographed (this can be a portrait of you, a physical space, a material/artifact, etc.) or have questions/suggestions, please contact me directly.

Email: // Phone: (347) 903-5475

I am based in Brooklyn, NY and more than willing to travel to Upstate NY and throughout the five boroughs, New Jersey, D.C/Maryland/Virginia, Connecticut, Philadelphia, and Boston. When I secure additional funding, I will be able to travel a greater distance so please let me know if you’re interested even if you do not live in the areas listed above.

While this whole project is unfolding, I will be posting research and process notes here.

I am excited to hear from you!


Kameelah Janan Rasheed

rick santorum relieved no one has asked him about interracial marriage yet

The Onion: Rick Santorum Relieved No One Has Asked Him About Interracial Marriage Yet

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

billy crystal, blackness and the oscars

I'm still trying to articulate for myself what I think about Billy Crystal's appearance in blackface at the Oscars.

The term blackface typically conjures up images of performers (both white and black) with caricatured African features in a style which in recent memory was best embodied by Al Jolson. Billy Crystal's performance was definitely not that, but it does bear a family resemblance.

One fact, which should be noted is that Crystal doesn't just have an isolated love for Sammy Davis Jr. but he is clearly really into blackface and the "performance of blackness" generally. For example, when he was on Saturday Night Live, in addition to his many Sammy Davis Jr. impressions, he did a short "mockumentary" with Christopher Guest in blackface as a retired ballplayer in the Negro Leagues.

Then on the Tonight Show, Billy Crystal did an extended impression/interview (thankfully without makeup) of Muhammad Ali, announcing that he was changing his name (again) to "Izzy" Chayim Yiskowitz and converting to Judaism.

I'm willing to concede that Billy Crystal is a well-intentioned person who doesn't mean to be racist but the same could have been said of Al Jolson. The issue with minstrely (in its old or new forms) is that every attempt at representation is ultimately a misrepresentation. By its nature, it is always a portrayal of blackness under a distorted "white gaze", showing us as they would have us instead of showing us as we are. (For example, in how Crystal's "Muhammad Ali" is made to become Jewish).

Perhaps more later...

See also:
Racialicious: All Things Old Hollywood: Blackface At The Oscars

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Sunday, February 12, 2012

whitney houston - my love is your love

This is my favorite Whitney Houston song. I find it absolutely, romantically, lovingly, apocalyptically beautiful. I also like the remix where Wyclef adds a bit more of a Bonnie and Clyde thug love tinge to the lyrics.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

we're #47! we're #47 (this is not a good thing)

Mostly due to crackdowns against journalists during the Occupy protests,the United States has dropped from 20th place to 47th place in the press freedom index of Reporters Without Borders. Guantanamo is still open. Indefinite detention is the law of the land. This is not a good look.

Huffington Post: Press Freedom Index: Occupy Wall Street Journalist Arrests Cost U.S. Dearly In Latest Survey

Friday, January 20, 2012

haiku for etta james by jessica care moore

Haiku for etta james

it ain't like we don't
like loving. we die for blues
cuz we born with it

Monday, January 16, 2012

more of the meme (part 3)

Sh*t "Conscious" Black People Say and Do

It is interesting to me how extensively this S*t Girls Say meme has morphed. As far as I can tell there seem to be 3 major variations 1) misogynist drag show (e.g. the original Sh*t Girls Say) 2) anti-racist criticism (e.g. Sh*t White Girls Say to Black Girls) and 3) self-effacing mini-ethnography (e.g. Sh*t Hijabis Say)

the meme has mutated (part 2)

Stuff Muslim Women Say Part 1

Sh*t Muslims Say

Sh*t People Say... to Arabs

Sh*t White Girls Say... to Brown (Desi/Indian) Girls

For those who speak Urdu there is
Sh*t Pakistani Girls Say

Saturday, January 14, 2012

the meme has mutated

Here are 3 different Arab/Muslim variants of the Sh*t [fill in the blank] Girls Say meme. I'm actually a little surprised that I could find three. The meme is apparently much more widespread than I realized at first. Many of the clips out there seem to have an intrinsic sexist current (by definition delegitimizing what girls say) which at times is counter-balanced by anti-racism (by criticizing prevailing stereotypes)

Shit White Girls Arab Girls

Stuff Hijabis Say

And also from zikrayat on tumblr:
Sh*t White Girls Say to Muslim Girls

I definitely was inspired by the Shit White Girls Say…..To Black Girls vid, and I kind of want to make this a video as well. All the following things have been said to me by white American non Muslim friends. It’s not cute, it’s not funny and it’s offensive.

Do you have to wear that thing on your head when you sleep?
SO….where are you from? No I mean, originally…No I mean, your parents….Oh so exotic!
Wow you’re like the only Muslim Italian person I’ve ever met!
Do you shower with your scarf on?
Do…do you have hair?
I like hanging out with you because you’re a “normal” Muslim….do you know what I mean?
I hope you don’t get offended, but you’re like the only normal Muslim I know.
My friends that we are about to hang out with just asked me if you were a crazy Muslim, LOL!
Aren’t you hot? I’d totally die in those layers.
So do you think I’m like an infidel?? Lol, jk, but seriously…
Oh my God your scarves are so unique like where do you buy them.
Let me touch the bump of your hair, wait why can’t I touch it??
(Out in public) LOL what if I just wore a hijab right now! *Throws one on*
It’s the Muslims job to educate me about Islam
Can you help me with my Arabic homework?
And I think Muslims should you know, self police.
(Walking past a police officer) WE GOTTA BOMB HERE OFFICER
Can you set me up with an Arab guy??
I’d totally date an Arab guy but I’d be scared it’d turn into another Not Without My Daughter
So you can’t lie like there is totally oppression in the Middle East…
Wait you’re not Arab? Stop I’m confused….
Pakistan is Arab right LOL
Are you going to have an arranged marriage?

And many more.

Why the "Shit Girls Say" Meme is Sexist, Racist and Should End by Naima Ramos-Chapman

Friday, January 13, 2012

santorum wants to impose "judeo-christian sharia"

Loonwatch: Santorum wants to impose ‘Judeo-Christian Sharia’

islamic pacifism

Loonwatch: Islamic Pacifism: Global Muslims in the Post-Osama Era

black and latino

What does it mean to be black and Latino in the U.S.? Featuring interviews with Latino actors Laz Alonso, Tatyana Ali, Gina Torres, Judy Reyes, singers Christina Milian and Kat DeLuna, journalist Soledad O'Brien and others.