Masjid Al Islam’s Monthly Newswire April, 2013
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Disclaimer: The views presented in the articles of this newsletter do not represent the views of Masjid Al Islam
We are now well into March and 1/4 of 2013 is almost behind us. For those of you who made resolutions that you would do this or that in 2013, as the saying goes, my how time flies. Taxes are due next month. This year, after 6 days of intense, painful, and agonizing tax torture, I mailed not one but two years of taxes off to the IRS. I hate our federal tax system and I hate tax preparation. And dependent upon where you live, you may have to file an additional state tax form! The amount of tax can seem extreme for certain levels of income, being 30% and more. That means that for every one dollar you make, you have only made seventy cents. Seems unfair doesn’t it? Especially when that seventy cents can’t buy a loaf of bread. That’s what all the fighting is about now in Washington DC. The issue is how can we balance the federal budget in a fair and just way. The Republicans argue that we should not overtax the business because its business that provides the jobs. The Democrats argue that taxing and asking the wealthy to pay more is not unfair. And where is the revenue going to come from that it needs to conduct its business? Do we lower taxes and eliminate programs and services or keep the programs and services and increase the taxes? Dependent upon where you are in the tax bracket, you see the issue differently. Those who consider themselves at the lower economic brackets scream ” don’t tax me anymore, I can’t bear it.” Those at the upper levels scream, ” it’s not fair to tax me anymore just because I make more and I pay my fair share!”. America is a CAPITALIST country and the tax policy rewards capitalism because it fuels the economy. The effective tax rate for a wealthy person could be less than the almost poor person because of the tax policy. It’s not an inherently evil or diabolical policy but the tax system needs to be reviewed and revised from time to time. It is good to reward productivity, and invention. You don’t want to kill the golden goose (business) of the job creators by making it impossible for them to make a decent profit. On the other hand you don’t want to overburden the non-wealthy with excessive taxes and elimination of social programs that leave them unable to thrive and raise their families. Therein lies the dilemma. Money is relative. What is small money to one person is large money to another. One thing for sure is that we always seem to need more and nobody seems to want to pay more to the government for taxes. And that’s the right and wrong of it.
– Khalid Shaheed
Let’s take a closer look at Muslims in early America. Keep in mind that because of the social conditions imposed on them, Muslims that were brought to our country as slaves could not produce the institutions necessary to sustain their way of life for themselves and for generations to come. It was the communal aspect of Islam that was not allowed in and for all intents and purposes this aspect embeds needed institutions for people to flourish. What we have historically are traces of practices and beliefs. These traces could not stand very long without needed support from established masajid, schools, etc.
Dr. Sylviane Diouf says in her book African Muslims enslaved in the Americas that Bilali Muhammad “patriarch of Sapelo, always wore a cap that resembled a Turkish Fez, noted a white woman who met him and his family in the late 1850s”. She, Dr. Diouf, maintains that he had to find a creative way to make this Fez cap in America because he could not have brought it with him and he had been in America all his adult life.
In the same above mentioned book Dr. Sylviane talked about Bilali’s daughter Margaret. Margaret’s daughter, Kate has reported in broken English that her mother did not were a scarf tied and rapped around her head the way she did but instead her mother’s scarf would hang down around her neck, bosom and shoulders. Bilali’s grand daughter Kate was alive on Sapelo Island, Georgia in the late 1930’s and a picture of her exist in Dr. Allan Austin book African Muslim in Antebellum America on page p. 97. It is truly amazing that when she describes how her mother wore her scarf, she describes the Kee mah (covering) that is mentioned by Allah in the Quran for Muslim women.
What we see in these reports is evidence of Islamic presence and an Islamic legacy that has deep roots among indigenous people in America. These reports also remind us of the hardship and struggles these people probably experienced in trying to maintain their belief in one God and their deeply cherished Muslim practices against what appeared to be insurmountable odds.
Inter-Racial Marriage in Post Racial America-How Well Do You Know Yourself? – Amir Makin
Marriage among different ethnicities in what some have termed post racial America takes on a new meaning when examining it under specific contexts. America as a nation was founded on white supremacy from the time the 1st African was forcibly brought to the land already inhabited by the Native Americans who were forcibly driven off the only place they called home. From the 1500’s to 2012, America has grown by leaps and bounds in the area of racial progress. Lynching has been made illegal, African Americans can vote and even sit in the front of the bus. However no amount of legislation such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 or Voting Rights Act of 1965 can remove the psychological training both conscious and subconcious that everyone in America regardless of race have received in the form of cultural and traditional norms by this society’s standards.
The psychological component of white supremacy is what this nation has failed to treat properly let alone acknowledge. This failure even in 2012 manifests not only in police brutality, prosecutorial misconduct in cases where the perpertrator is of color and the victim is Caucasian but also in attitudes present in personal relationships.
The recent and turbulent divorces of Terrence Howard/Michelle Ghent, Seal/Heidi Klum and Halle Berry/Gabriel Aubry’s child custody battle has publicized severe psychological abuse with intensive racist overtones. In court documents filed by Terrence Howard’s attorney he alleges Michelle Ghent repeatedly called him and his children from previous relationships racist slurs and threatened to have a Russian hit squad contracted to kill him. In documents filed by Halle Berry’s attorney she alleges that Gabriel Aubry repeatedly used racist slurs against her and would become enraged when someone would suggest their daughter was part African American. The recent announcement of Seal/Heidi Klum’s divorce has many individuals blaming this on Seal’s temper. True or false, this allegation undoubtedly plays into the proverbial stereotype of the angry Black man syndrome perpetuated by many who resented their marriage due to racism alone as does Governor Jan Brewer’s claims that she felt “threatened” by President Obama when he visited Arizona. While these factors are just one piece of the tragic breakup involving these individuals, the question that should be asked is if these allegations are true how could these people have appeared to be above racist beliefs and practices which have not been obvious until now? The answer lies in America’s social structure and attitudes regarding race which has been around since the founding of this nation. A major part of that social structure was to force everyone to believe that Blacks had to stay back, and thererfore deserved to be marginalized, and universally despised. This significant ingredient of white supremacy has not been acknowledged in what some once termed “post racial America” immediately upon the election of its first African American president. Unless people consciously force themselves to evaluate how they think and feel about themselves and other ethnicities, then the way to deal with this psychological component is to act as if it’s not present. For to confront it might force people to be held accountable for all the actions they have taken as a result of this psychological conditioning. It is easy to dismiss the actions of one’s ancestors by saying, “get over it, I’ve never lynched anyone.” It is more difficult to admit “I’ve mistreated your Black child in my classroom” or “I shot this unarmed man because I’ve been conditioned to hate their race.”
As racial progress was made in America, many white supremacists learned how to tolerate those they despised even to the point of providing assistance to them at a lesser level to avoid competing against them at a higher level.
Evidence of this can be found in part in the funding of historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs). When colleges were slowly becoming integrated, some rich white supremacists would sometimes fund the collegiate education of African Americans at HBCUs in order to ensure their own children would not have to share a classroom with those they despised. When President Truman began to tear down the segregationist culture of the military, white supremacists after failing to successfully argue the integrity of the armed forces would be compromised, instead chose to route African Americans to positions historically associated with slavery: cooks, personal assistants, janitors. Before breaking the color line in baseball Jackie Robinson even had to fight his own fellow soldiers to become a candidate for military officers’ school.
In 2012, Mrs. Obama had to publicly declare that she “is not some angry Black woman” after being consistently categorized as such. The US Senate majority leader Harry Reid once said the good thing about then presidential candidate Barack Obama was that he did not speak with a “negro dialect.” The attitudes that come directly from this psychological training have survived and will continue to rise above the surface only when people feel as if something they hold dear is about to be removed, whether it be the social status that comes with a famous marriage, or a position of power. Once unleashed it overflows like a volcano as described here and elsewhere.
Each person of every ethnicity has been disaffected by the roots of white supremacy, and must find the moral fortitude to understand just how deeply the individual impact has traveled. If you have ever heard a racist joke or witnessed an act of racism and not stood nor spoken against it for fear of reprisals that might damage you professionally, the culture of white supremacy has disaffected you. If you have ever been a victim of a racist slur or physical attack, you have been disaffected. If you have ever accepted blanket stereotypes of any group no matter how small, you have been disaffected. We must look deep within our very souls to conduct this much needed investigation.
Everyone owes it to themselves to stand at a mirror and ask, “How do I really feel about myself? How do I feel about this particular group of people? Why do I feel that way? Would I want my children to have others feeling this way about them?” These questions must be asked before any interaction let alone a relationship begins, during and throughout its entire process. If the answers are in the negative then courage must be found to acknowledge and change one’s thinking for the future of our children and the preservation of humanity. Marriage with racial bias in one’s heart must be confronted and eliminated. From this investigation should come the answer to the most important question of all: how well do I really know myself?
Amir Makin is an activist, analyst and author of A Worthy Muslim. He regularly writes on many things from politics to race relations. More of his writings can be found at http://islamandrace.com
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