The African-American Muslim in 2012 (part 2)
Praise and thanks to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds,
In the first entry on this topic, we mentioned some of the reasons why African-American Muslims have not been able to compete with the influx of immigrant Muslims or their children. Many of the problems stem from family dysfunction. The serial marriages, the divorces, the almost certainly doomed from the start attempts at polygyny, all contributed to the instability in the household, and this has meant that many African-American Muslim children have grown up in households that, beyond the surface of religiosity, were not a whole lot different from their non-Muslim peers in the hood.
We have all seen the results. Youth who attended Muslim schools, some even went overseas, gained relative fluency in Arabic, memorized substantial portions of the Qur’an but still ended up in the vortex of street culture, crime, incarceration, serial fornication, and producing children out-of-wedlock on the regular. Instead of taking a long hard and sincere look at the current condition of African-American culture, the standard black mantra says: “(Fill in the blank for whatever ethnic/racial group) do it, too.” That’s beside the point. The fact that other Muslim ethnic groups may have their pathological and dysfunctional individuals, they are not producing a culture of convicts and daughters with illegitimate children at the rate of the African-American Muslim. Also, many of the immigrant youth who are jacked-up are actually imitating African-American ghetto culture.
Furthermore, if one wants to improve his condition, he looks to those who are faring better than he is, and he attempts to emulate them. That’s why Muslims take the Prophets, the righteous scholars, and pious people as role models. A Muslim striving to be obedient doesn’t look at the lowlifes of the community and then say that at least he’s not doing that much worse than those dregs.
Also, this struck me particularly hard recently: if one were to ask a Pakistani youth, or an Arab, or a Somali, or a Malaysian youth to think about his ethnic culture, he would see his ethnic culture being inextricably interwoven with Islam. The foods he eats, the way he (or at least his parents and grandparents) dresses, the family structure, would have some relation to Islam, or at least the culture of Muslims. Now juxtapose that with an African-American youth (the child of converts) living in the inner city. Yes, he is a Muslim (or at least self-identifies as such) but what is his culture? His culture almost certainly will be black ghetto non-Muslim culture. It’s not the culture of Appalachian hicks; it’s not the culture of the Obamas; it’s not the culture of the `Ulamaa’. To the contrary, it’s the culture of the streets—and it has nothing to do with the virtues of Islamic piety.
Okay, some may respond that there are plenty of (fill in the blank ethnic group) who are also running the streets and caught up in ghetto culture. True, indeed. But unless that young Muslim (of immigrant background) really takes the plunge into pathology (again, usually imitating that black ghetto culture) they can usually snap out of it. They don’t find themselves doing extended bids in prison, and the girls don’t have two and three (illegitimate) baby daddies in their lives. Furthermore, when all is said and done, that Egyptian, Pakistani, Mauritanian, Bangladeshi Muslim knows at the end of the day this ghetto culture isn’t really his culture. He has a culture that is connected to Islam and extends back to multiple generations of Muslims.
Compare the above to the situation with the African-American Muslim. He can look around at many of the African-American Muslims and see that they are relegated to a lower status in the immigrant mosques, and if he attends an inner city mosque, well, that child is going to see many of the problems of the hood also witnessed within the mosque. (After all, the behavior of the inner city mosques largely mirrors what is on the street). Also, and this is something that the immigrant Muslims often overlook and rarely fail to misunderstand:
They don’t understand what it means to “be black”—even if they are “black” (like, when one Somali woman (many shades darker than I) complained to me about how deeply offended she was that some non-Muslims were treating her as if she were “black”). What has become black American CULTURE is something utterly repulsive. Black CULTURE was not always this way. W.E.B. Dubois didn’t behave in this manner, nor did, the polyglot, Paul Robeson, Ida B. Wells, Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Adam Clayton Powell, etc. I am not saying that they were free from character faults—but they did not typically normalize and glorify black ghetto pathological culture. They saw black ghetto/underclass culture as a problem that needed to be fixed—not something that needed to be cherished and embraced! These black leaders of previous generations demanded that black people and their culture raise their standards—not lower them.
Again, there was no shortage of deviants and social misfits in the past, but such people and their behavior were not used as a standard to define “blackness.” Such behavior was ostracized by the majority of black folk. Today, standard black culture is defined by the lowest and most loathsome elements of the black community, and for the most part, black folk are fine with that—and rush to the defense of these social miscreants (just consider the response to the death of “No Limit N-Word,” the Jenna 6, or the Duke stripper case).
The black ghetto culture is simply unsustainable. Again, to silence, the cavilers, when I speak of “black ghetto culture” (BGC), I am talking about the ethos of the ghetto, and what has become the standard, or at least a far more tolerated standard, of behavior. I am not talking about black people who happen to be poor, whether by choice or circumstance, or happen to live in the “hood;” I am talking about the prevailing pathological culture of the ghetto—we all know it when we see it, so let’s stop frontin’. The virulent fornication and plague of bastardy, the drug addiction, the astronomically high dropout rates and general state of ignorance and stupidity, all contribute to the breakdown of community and the meltdown of a culture. If someone thinks I am exaggerating, then it should be enough to consider that black males—who make up a mere six percent of the population (and this includes black males of all ages)—commit FORTY PERCENT of all murders. Say what one may about the racism in the court system, this statistical fact unambiguously demonstrates that the violent and pathological nature of black ghetto culture.
This disintegration of life in the “hood” is further accelerated by the fact that there is little in the BGC that prepares it for the realities of a global economy in the Information Age. Also, one should keep in mind that certain economies have found it profoundly profitable to keep the BGC subsisting, whether it be the “social services” industry, the liberal Negro race pimps, the increasingly militaristic police forces, the prison-industrial complex—which is now becoming privatized and has a vested interest in seeing that the pathologies of the black ghetto culture persist (in its own special dysfunctional way).
Okay, we see the evident mess cultural carnage of inner city culture, but what is its source? We have to realize that the mindset of black ghetto culture is one programmed for self-destruction. It is the Willie Lynch Syndrome on an epidemic level. Although the “Willie Lynch Letter” is almost certainly a fabrication, the practices mentioned therein were undoubtedly employed during the era of slavery (and what came after) to keep black people psychologically fragmented and socially and divided.
This (meaning the Willie Lynch Syndrome) ensured that black males, for instance, would feel reduced to the level of brute beasts used for brawn and breeding purposes (we see this today with the semi-literate athlete chasing balls and the “buck” N-Words bragging about their sexual prowess… with virtually nothing else “going on” for themselves). This meant that blacks had to be taught that they were intellectually inadequate—that learning and academics were something for white people. The seeds of self-hatred had to be planted, and with the self-hatred came jealousy and distrust of all things black. And with that self-hatred came the notorious “crabs in a barrel” mentality” that is so pervasive in the black community until today.
Historically, the strong-willed, disciplined, and intelligent black people transcended the obstacles of white racism, and perhaps what was even a greater impediment to their progress: the negativity of fellow black folks. These African-Americans frequently went on to become the heroes of black culture—the role models of future generations. However, with the 1960’s and the spread of Cultural Marxism and moral relativism, a seismic shift in American cultural values took place as a whole and in black culture, in particular. Drug use became popularized; fornication was unabashedly promoted; illegitimacy increasingly became the norm; feminism and single motherhood was touted as “progress;” the welfare state emasculated and destabilized the black family. Given what was already sown into the black culture and psyche, this made the African-American community particularly vulnerable to the overall degeneration of American values.
This is not to defend or legitimate deviant behavior—as I’ve said elsewhere, explaining something is not the same as justifying it. It is important, however, to understand the lay of the land and what is going on in the heads of black folk. As for the African-American Muslim, many of us never made the exodus from black ghetto culture mindset and value system. We are still looking to “get over” to get something for nothing—failing to keep in mind that none of us can “get over” on Allah. Allah knows not only what we do, Allah knows the motivations behind what we do. Certainly the Creator knows all about the creation.
Many of us are still living in a neo-jahiliyyah gutter state of mind. Our values tend to be those not of the traditional black elite, the Paul Lawerence Dunbar’s, the Booker T. Wahington’s, the Frederick Douglas’s—that is, for those who still “want to keep it black” and “stay in touch with their ‘heritage’.” Instead, many of us consider those with the lowest degree of self-restraint, and the most ignorant, treacherous, and vile people African-Americans have produced (think no further than your typical rapper of today) are the “epitome of blackness.” This is not to mention that many of us are out of touch with the behavior and character of the best of humanity: the behavior and character of the Prophets, and after them, the awliyaa’ (the highly righteous).
The African-American Muslim is still in the midst of a deep identity crisis. And if he does not snap out of this confused state, then he will be relegated to a footnote in the history of Islam in this country, and he will have few or no Muslims descendants left to make du`aa’ for him after he dies. This crisis, however, can only be resolved by a sincere commitment to learn authentic traditional Islamic knowledge and internalizing the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu `alayhi wasallam). God-willing, in the next entry we will talk about how we may begin do that.