A Mix-Up Over Race
Yesterday, I had a long mix-up with a person about some of the things i’ve said about “black people.” It was pleasant, and I think that the criticisms raised were very fair. I asked the person if I could blog a response to the discussion, and they agreed (I didn’t want to seem like I am trying to spitefully vent at them behind their back). The point here is to respond and clarify my thoughts on this issue of race and culture that I have brought up many times on this blog.
Firstly, let it be said that I have made it abundantly clear that my objection is to black CULTURE and not to black biology or physical characteristics. More than once, I’ve been accused of “self-hatred” for the things i’ve said about black CULTURE. I’ve turned this accusation over in my mind, and I have to say that it has no weight. I am African-American or black. I am not ashamed of it, and I don’t (usually) hide it. (I will sometimes not tell a person what my ethnicity is just to see where their head is—not because I am ashamed of who I am. When overseas, black folks will get the: “Where are you from?” series of questions. I’ll answer: “America,” and they’ll say: “Where are your parents from?” and i’ll say “America,” and that will keep going on until I decide to explain to him that the people who are multi-generational Americans are not only the white people.)
I would not hesitate in marrying a woman with a darker complexion than mine (people like what they like, and there is some saying about berries). Nor would I have a problem with marrying a woman with more “African” features than I have. I wouldn’t have a problem having a child darker than me. That doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t marry a woman fairer than me; skin color just isn’t a big concern of mine. Compatibility is important. Color is basically a non-factor.
Secondly, I don’t think of white people as paragons of virtue (and when I use the term “white,” I mean in the American sense). I don’t think anywhere one can find on my blog that I am suggesting that African-American Muslims should take white folks as an example. It should be enough to recognize that white-Western civilization is largely based upon its opposition to Islam. Simply because one is critical of contemporary black culture does not mean that one wants to “be white.”
Thirdly, one will be hard pressed to find that I am advocating an adoption of contemporary Arab (or Indo-Pakistani, or Malaysian, or East African, or West African, or Turkish) culture, either. What I will say is that one has to get traditional knowledge, and that knowledge must have a scholarly pedigree that goes back to the Companions and to the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wasallam). If one wants to seriously learn the Religion, he (or she) can’t escape this fact. With that said—get authentic knowledge from reliable people regardless of their ethnic background. I will also add: there is a need for QUALIFIED, learned African-American Muslims to acquire traditional knowledge and make that knowledge relevant to the time and circumstances of life in contemporary Western society.
What I am suggesting is that African-American Muslims must develop a NEW culture that is not based upon racist Jim Crow notions of identity and race. This means that we have to think objectively and critically about race. We should simply ask ourselves: Who came up with American notions of race and racial categorizations? Did those people innovate these racial categories for the benefit of black people—or did they innovate this system of categorization to control and dominate black people?
Also, we should ask ourselves, why are we clinging on to an identity (racial) that does not serve us to reach our full potential? (For the record, I do understand that if “Cletus, The Cop” pulls me over on a back road in Mississippi, my telling him that American ideas of race are largely a social construct is prolly not going to win me any points with him. I do understand how I am generally perceived by others and what strangers may expect of me because of my racial characteristics—but that doesn’t mean that I allow others to determine how I think of myself or define who I am, in-shaa’ Allah.)
Also for the record, I am not a Cultural Marxists, so I am not saying that there is no such thing as “race”–none of us confuses a Native from the Amazon with a Nordic Native of Sweden. I am saying that “race,” as we understand it in America is largely a social construct, is relatively fluid and it changes (and has changed even within the history of the United States). And there is no reason that Muslims should not challenge American constructions of race (and Muslims, in their diversity, are doing that right now).
Okay, now that the “self-hatred” or “wannabe” accusations have been addressed, why then am I so critical of black CULTURE? This is my view of things—without trying to sound too “conspiratorial”: you have an Elite (wealth and power of the society is concentrated in the hands of a small percentage of the people). The Elite, although they are not necessarily all “united,” wish to keep the masses in check. The masses are controlled and manipulated by a number of ways, but one of them is keeping the people in a degenerate moral state (e.g., via drugs, alcohol, promiscuity, mindless entertainment, ad nauseum). The Elite also use race as a means to divide the people and keep the masses squabbling over matters that in the bigger picture matter little—and certainly don’t matter in the Hereafter. Muslims SHOULD be able to X-ray this sideshow and offer people an alternative perspective.
In my view, the Elite are using black “culture” to divide and weaken the society. By stirring up racism (and that is not to say there would be no racism if there wasn’t an Elite—it’s just that they exacerbate it and don’t offer the people the true solution to racism), they keep people preoccupied and filled with hate. The other thing is that by way of the popular culture—primarily, in this case, through the music culture—”black culture” is being normalized. The reality of the matter is that what is now “black culture” is not really “black culture” but a socially engineered identity produced by mega-conglomerate corporations. Nonetheless, because many African-Americans refuse to think critically about their condition, they feel compelled to identify with this corporate manufactured culture—in the name of “blackness” or “black solidarity…” because the media tells them to.
The fact of the matter is that black culture has been breached by corporate psy-ops quite a while ago. This is especially obvious with rap music; the corporations have been able to almost completely brainwash a very large segment of the black youth in the past generation or so. Simply look at black culture today and ask yourself, where does it derive its sense of morals and normalcy beyond the pop culture and media? Rap music (meaning, the mainstream rap music) very clearly is little more than publicity for the prison industrial complex. It promotes immoral and criminal behavior, which contributes to social pathology and crime, which leads to the mass incarceration we are witnessing today. No Einstein is required to figure that out.
Now some folks will jump up and say: “Other people [fill in the ethnic group] do it too.” …Ya, but when did two wrongs make a right? Furthermore, when (many) black folks engage in the anti-social behavior they engage in, they do so in the name of being black. They feel that since they are “black,” then they must behave in a certain (often) anti-social manner. If one does not behave in such a manner, the person is not considered “genuinely black” by many of his ethnic brethren. Also, in the case of black culture, it is the people of the lower classes that have now come to define the culture. White folks still call their trash, “trash.” In the case of black culture, it is not the “Cosby kids” who are defining what it means to “be black.” It’s the thugs, convicts, and rappers who represent the “keepin’ it real” black experience.
It has to be asked where does an observant Muslim’s identity and values intersect with what has become the norm in black culture? What does an observant Muslim have in common with folks who drink alcohol, smoke weed, go to clubs, fornicate, gamble, get tattoos, increasingly sympathize with homosexuals? Not only do people engage in such behavior they NORMALIZE it. The observant Muslim also isn’t going to church. An observant Muslim doesn’t listen to radio music—and that alone cuts him off from much of “black culture.” Not only that, it is that very same socially engineered “black culture” that is corrupting many Muslim youth from numerous ethnic groups and nationalities not only here in the West but also in the Muslim world. Also, when we see second (or third) generation African-American Muslim youth who are “caught up,” they aren’t “caught up” imitating the rednecks in the Ozarks. They are caught up having adopted the behavior of non-Muslim black culture of the inner city. Why do they adopt such behavior? Because they feel that this is what it means to “be black.”
Nonetheless, because of Cultural Marxism, we should give all this (meaning, the pathology of black culture) a “pass.” In spite of how evidently self-destructive and toxic “black culture” is, we are not (allegedly) allowed to criticize it, and if you do, you are either a “racist” or an Uncle Ruckus “self-hater.” I don’t buy this for a moment, and God-willing, I am not going to back down on this issue. Also, this thing is bigger than just racism against black people. It’s all tied into Cultural Marxism, which also promotes feminism and the homosexual agenda—which at their core are blasphemous ideologies.
A few other points. Some folks will start to explain WHY the black culture is the way that it is. I have no problem acknowledging the devastating effects that racism has had on black folk. You can find all sorts of black (and non-black) Cultural Marxist writers who talk about it. And for the most part they are right.
If someone wants to kick it on the conspiratorial tip and talk about COINTELPRO, or Global 2000, or Planned Parenthood, or the neo-slavery via privatized prison industrial complex, I don’t dismiss them with skepticism… but what such discussions typically leave out is the matter of PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY. There are plenty of black nationalist sites that talk about conspiracies against black people—but few that talk about the need for black people to reform their immoral behavior (and, yes, I know, it’s not only black people who behave immorally and are drowning in sin).
Another point about identity: folks need to be more objective, think critically and less emotionally. I have some white ancestry (not proud of it—just saying that it is what it is) and if the hypodescent one-drop rule were reversed, I could probably call myself “white.” However, if someone starts making comments about “po’ white trash,” I don’t feel particularly offended… because I don’t identify with that culture. Likewise, African-American Muslims shouldn’t feel compelled to identify with low end black culture—nor should they feel offended when that culture is criticized. To the contrary, African-American Muslims should be among those challenging the very construction of race in America, for this historical racial taxonomy certainly has NOT served us.
With all that I say about black culture, there is ABSOLUTELY a need to do da`wah in the inner city. However, one of the main impediments to the multi-generational growth of Islam for black Americans has been the inability of the second generation to by and large escape the vortex of inner city (i.e., “black”) culture. Yes, folks in the hood will say their Shahadah, and may become consistent and contributing or even outstanding members of their community, but from what I have seen, this zeal and commitment rarely sticks with their kids. To those who wish to do such work in the inner city, the black youth must be given a greater sense of self and potential beyond living in the hood. This requires that if one wants to fix the situation for such youth that there is a means that they live for extensive amounts of time outside of such an environment, and that they must have a new identity—one based on Islam and piety and not based upon outdated Jim Crow notions of race (which is an identity that is now putty in the hands of the corporate propaganda machine).
Finally, as i’ve said elsewhere, folks need to realize that notions of race are fluid. As America becomes browner, as the Muslim community grows, as you have more and more Muslims growing up in diverse American Muslim communities who do not have the ethnic-cultural hang ups of the folks from the Old Countries, in this era of globalization and easy and relatively cheap travel, with the social media, one will (by the trends) have more and more exogamy (folks marrying outside their race/culture). The children of, for instance, (observant) convert African-American fathers and immigrant (or second generation) Muslims will have new identities that will not fit neatly into the current American racial paradigm. They will, if we prepare them properly, be able to liberate folks from the mental slavery of the American racial identity. They will be a new people, with a new identity, God-willing, based upon obedience to Allah, and that is the true success.