Sunday, June 28, 2015

"they sold marcus garvey for rice"

Time for the US to pardon Jamaican national hero by Hisham Aidi

peru celebrates black history month

Peru celebrates black history month by Hisham Aidi

more from hisham aidi at al-jazeera

More articles from Hisham Aidi

Australia's 'history wars' heat up again
An unlikely celebration of North Africa's ethnic diversity
The sex-for-food scandal in Central African Republic
Podemos and the Catalan cause
Reviving Thomas Sankara's spirit

chicken or the egg

Rap and radicalism: Does hip hop create extremists? by Hisham Aidi

two stories on spain vs. the "muslims"

Spain still uneasy with the Moors and Spanish leftists join fight against ISIL both by Hisham Aidi.

"a love supreme" / "allah supreme"?

 The recording has long been understood to be a deeply spiritual, even devotional, piece. Its four phases - "Acknowledgement", "Resolution", "Pursuance" and "Psalms" - reflect what Coltrane described as a "spiritual awakening" in his overcoming of drug and alcohol problems. 

Yet, what was the nature of that "spiritual awakening"? The conventional view is that by 1964, Coltrane had moved away from his Methodist upbringing, adopting a "pan-religious" outlook with a particular interest in Eastern mysticism. In spite of that, "A Love Supreme" is still described as laden with Biblical symbolism: the title "Psalm", and the rising cadences, reminiscent of black preachers' style, are offered as evidence that Coltrane was still rooted in Christianity. But ask one of the jazzmen or Muslim elders who knew Coltrane, and you get a different answer. 

The saxophonist Yusef Lateef, who died at the age of 93 earlier this year, worked closely with Coltrane between 1963 and 1966. In his autobiography , "A Gentle Giant", Lateef says: "The prayer that John wrote in 'A Love Supreme' repeats the phrase 'All praise belongs to God no matter what' several times. This phrase has the semantics of the al-Fatiha, which is the first chapter or sura of the Holy Quran. The Arabic transliteration is 'al-Humdulilah…' Since all faithful Muslims say the al-Fatiha five times a day or more, it is reasonable to assume that John heard this phrase from [his Muslim wife] Sister Naima many times." 

Lateef is referring to the poem Coltrane wrote and included in the liner notes of the album. Coltrane wrote: "No matter what … It is with God. He is gracious and merciful" and ends with "All praise to God..."

What Lateef and others have noted is that "gracious and merciful" is a translation of "rahman raheem", the opening lines of the Fatiha. Moreover, say the elders, when Coltrane begins chanting the album's title for half a minute it sounds like a Sufi breathily repeating "Allah supreme".

The relationship between Islam and jazz is almost a century-old. It was in the 1920s that the Ahmadiyya movement, a heterodox Islamic movement that emerged in 19th century India, began sending missionaries to US cities, building a substantial following among African Americans in the decades to come. In a trend that still intrigues historians and music critics, after World War II, scores of jazz musicians embraced Ahmadi Islam.

When Coltrane arrived in Philadelphia in 1943, the Muslim presence in the "city of brotherly love" would rattle the young man. As he told an interviewer in 1958: "This Muslim thing came up. I got introduced to that. And that kind of shook me." 

The saxophonist was surrounded by Muslims: his drummer Rashied Ali was Muslim, as was his pianist McCoy Tyner (Suleiman Saud), and saxophonist Lateef. Coltrane then married Naima Grubbs, an observant Muslim. Even Coltrane's band members have pondered his relationship to Islam. If Lateef suspected that Coltrane's art was influenced by the Quran, the drummer Rashied Ali thought that the saxophonist was "a real country boy" and that "he was into being a Muslim and everything like that". One also hears the argument that Coltrane wanted to title his composition Allah Supreme - instead of A Love Supreme - but was worried about a political backlash, given the ongoing conflict in the Middle East. "Back then jazz and Islam were intertwined - the first time I heard the adhan on Temple University radio, I thought it was a Nina Simone song," says Imam Nadim Ali, a celebrated jazz deejay and community leader who spent his youth in Philadelphia. "Artists were deeply influenced by Islam - sometimes publicly in their art, sometimes privately." 

It's not inconceivable that "A Love Supreme" could have been inspired by the Quran. After all, as the elders will observe, "Celebration", that great funk hit by Kool & the Gang, was inspired by a Quranic sura. 

"The initial idea came from the Quran," says Ronald Bell (Khalis Bayyan), the group's saxophonist and musical arranger. "I was reading the passage, where God was creating Adam, and the angels were celebrating and singing praises. That inspired me to write the basic chords, the line, 'Everyone around the world, come on, celebration'."

This song inspired by Islam - and released in 1980 - would become an international hit heard at ball games and political rallies in the US, and ironically was played by the Reagan administration on February 7, 1981, to welcome home the hostages held by students in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

us churches and divestment from israel

EI: Will US churches help bring down Israel’s prison walls?

phase 2: polygamy

For a long time I've actually thought that once gay marriage was legal, laws against polygamy would probably declared unconstitutional as well, based on similar legal reasoning.

Even Chief Justice John Roberts basically said as much in his dissenting opinion to Friday's Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage:
It is striking how much of the majority’s reasoning would apply with equal force to the claim of a fundamental right to plural marriage. If “[t]here is dignity in the bond between two men or two women who seek to marry and in their autonomy to make such profound choices,” why would there be any less dignity in the bond between three people who, in exercising their autonomy, seek to make the profound choice to marry? If a same-sex couple has the constitutional right to marry because their children would otherwise “suffer the stigma of knowing their families are somehow lesser,” why wouldn’t the same reasoning apply to a family of three or more persons raising children? If not having the opportunity to marry “serves to disrespect and subordinate” gay and lesbian couples, why wouldn’t the same “imposition of this disability,” serve to disrespect and subordinate people who find fulfillment in polyamorous relationships?

Here are a range of other voices weighing in on the relationship between gay marriage and polygamy.

Some more recent:
And some from a while back:

obama coffee?

Mondoweiss: ‘Obama coffee’ is black and weak — racist tweet from wife of Israel’s vice premier

Informed Comment: Wife of Israeli Cabinet member tweets Racist Obama Joke, had called for Innocent Palestinians to be Punished 

we're all connected

 People all over the blogosphere are making connections between Dylann Roof's acts of violence and  hatred  against Muslims elsewhere:

 Loonwatch: Dylann Roof: The Nexus Between White Supremacy’ s Anti-Blackness and Islamophobia
 Informed Comment: European Islamophobic Networks influenced Roof to Kill in Charleston
 Mondoweiss: Charleston: Do Black and Palestinian lives matter?

Saturday, June 27, 2015

a secret history of coffee, coca and cola

An interesting discussion from CSPAN-2, around the book A Secret History of Coffee, Coca and Cola by Ricardo Cortes. A perspective you do not often hear articulated. More information about the book can be found at the Akashic books website.

ello, the anti-facebook

Ello, the so-called anti-Facebook is actually on the interesting side. Ad-free. Nice design. Original content. It is still in its beta phase so they are still gradually rolling out its features.  And the community is still growing. Nevertheless, It should be a nice alternative to Facebook. Quick Guide to Ello

game of thrones vs. brave new world (part two)

I had last worked on this over two years ago (Thursday April 18, 2013) and left it as a draft, but given recent events, I thought I should probably dust this off and publish it.... and think about a part three.... Another element of the popular culture which has gotten me thinking about Game of Thrones vs. Brave New World is the show Switched at Birth. The show is a drama on ABC Family which (as the title implies) involves two girls who, as babies, were switched at the hospital and went home to the wrong family. One grew up as Daphne Vasquez and was raised by a Puerto Rican Latina single mother. (The mother's Italian-French-Arab boyfriend had been in the picture but then left when a paternity test confirmed that Daphne was not his daughter). Also a childhood bout with meningitis has left Daphne deaf. The other girl grew up as Bay Kennish, who was given a fairly comfortable upbringing, raised with a younger "brother" by a retired major league baseball player and a stay-at-home mom. The show has gotten a bit melodramatic lately, but it is surprisingly thought-provoking for a teenage drama; raising issues of nature vs. nurture, class, race, ethnicity, privilege, deaf culture, and the nature of family obligation. The reason why I bring it up in the context of Game of Thrones vs. Brave New World is because of the surprising way the show seems to deal with issues of custody. Even after the hospital's mistake is discovered by the two families, the girls don't simply go back to their natural families but instead the two families move in together (the wealthy Kennishes happen to have an empty guest house) and form a complex blended arrangement. 

Friday, June 26, 2015

this is unity

From Puerto Rican / Ethiopian Orthodox Jewish rapper Y-Love (Yitz Jordan)

capers funnye

For a different look at the relationship between Blackness and Jewishness, we can consider Rabbi Capers Funnye, a long time leader in the Black Jewish community, and a cousin of Michelle Obama.
BETH SHALOM B’NAI ZAKEN ETHIOPIAN HEBREW CONGREGATION The New York Times: Obama's Rabbi Huff Post: Jewish Voices of Color Must be Heard Killing the Buddha: Meet Black Judaism

Thursday, June 25, 2015

anti-african racism in israel

An eye-opening series of links on some of the deep racial problems in Israel.

muslims in cuba

BBC: What is it like to be a Muslim in Cuba?

a turn

Weird day, virtually speaking. I will try to find the silver lining... e.g. more time to read Quran, work on myself, work on the novel, more time to get my thoughts down here.