Ramadan in the Antebellum United States

Khaled A. Beydoun, the Critical Race Studies Teaching Fellow at the UCLA School of Law, published an opinion piece on the history of Ramadan in America on Al Jazeera. He reminds Americans that many of the first Muslim Americans were African slaves in the antebellum South, and that Ramadan has existed in America for centuries.

This weekend marks the beginning of Ramadan. Nearly one-fourth of the world will observe the annual fast and eight million Muslims in the United States will abstain from food and drink from sunrise to sunset during the holy month. A gruelling task at any time of the year, Ramadan this year will be especially daunting during the long and hot summer days.

Islam in America is rapidly expanding. It is the fastest-growing religion in the nation, and the second most practiced faith in twenty states. These demographic shifts prompted a prominent Los Angeles-based imam to comment, “Ramadan is a new American tradition.” The cleric’s forward-looking pronouncement marks Islam’s recent arrival in the US. However, this statement reveals a pathology afflicting a lot of Muslim Americans today – an inability to look back and embrace the opening chapters of Muslim American history written by enslaved African Muslims.

Social scientists estimate that 15 to 30 percent, or, “[a]s many as 600,000 to 1.2 million slaves” in antebellum America were Muslims. 46 percent of the slaves in the antebellum South were kidnapped from Africa’s western regions, which boasted “significant numbers of Muslims”.

These enslaved Muslims strove to meet the demands of their faith, most notably the Ramadan fast, prayers, and community meals, in the face of comprehensive slave codes that linked religious activity to insubordination and rebellion. Marking Ramadan as a “new American tradition” not only overlooks the holy month observed by enslaved Muslims many years ago, but also perpetuates their erasure from Muslim-American history.

Muslim diversity in the US has reshaped Ramadan into a multicultural American tradition. The breadth of Muslim America’s racial and cultural diversity today is unprecedented, making this year’s Ramadan – and the Ramadans to follow – new in terms of how transcultural and multiracial the tradition has become.

 

Read the full story here.

Source: Ramadan in the Antebellum United States

NOI.org Webcast | June 12, 2016: The Life and Times of Muhammad Ali by The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan

NOI.org Live Webcasts: [Watch Archives] June 12, 2016: The Life and Times of Muhammad Ali by The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan * Check Trouble status updates. * Donate to support NOI.org Services * Join The Nation of Islam

Source: NOI.org Webcast | NOI.org |

Voter Repression Is a Serious Problem: It Is Time for a New Freedom Summer | Portside

Voter Repression Is a Serious Problem: It Is Time for a New Freedom Summer

Republicans have created immense obstacles to registration – reduced the number of days for early voting, eliminated same-day registration – all with the clear and unadulterated aim of sinking, if not eliminating the Democratic electorate. What is striking is that, not very far behind their bogus arguments regarding alleged voter fraud, Republicans are close to admitting, or will outright admit, that their aim is to get potential Democratic voters to remain home.
Bill Fletcher
June 5, 2016

I found myself reading about the impact of voter suppression, i.e., the efforts to inhibit voter registration and voter participation that have been orchestrated by Republican-dominated state legislatures since 2009.  Voter suppression actually has a long and ignominious history in the USA, but the 1965 Voting Rights Act cramped such efforts.  The US Supreme Court’s neutering of the Voting Rights Act, Shelby County v Holder , opened up myriad possibilities for Republican shenanigans in the electoral arena.  Republicans have created immense obstacles to registration –  reduced the number of days for early voting,  eliminated same-day registration – all with the clear and unadulterated aim of sinking, if not eliminating the Democratic electorate.  What is striking is that, not very far behind their bogus arguments regarding alleged voter fraud, Republicans are close to admitting, or will outright admit, that their aim is to get potential Democratic voters to remain home.

    Voter registration, instead of being encouraged and made more accessible, has become exceedingly difficult.  In the Commonwealth of Virginia, for instance, registration forms have to be submitted within a certain number of days after they have been filled out, otherwise those who have conducted the registrations are penalized.  Registration forms can only be submitted to the clerk in the county of residence of the registrant rather than being submitted elsewhere and channeled appropriately.  And, in this age of identity theft, registrants are required to provide their full social security number.  In each state where voter suppression efforts are underway there are similar stories.

    Contemporary voter suppression parallels the practices carried out when Reconstruction was overthrown in 1877 and the ‘counterrevolution of property,’ to use W.E.B. Dubois’s term, succeeded.  In many states, possession of property was established as an eligibility requirement to cast a ballot. This counterrevolution resulted in the disenfranchisement of African American voters and, with them, many poor whites.  This was precisely the objective of “property” when faced with a populist rising against the gross inequalities of the Gilded Era and the post-Reconstruction period.

    Today’s voter suppression gained traction in the aftermath of the election of Barack Obama as President.  For the right-wing it was an “OMG” moment that they sought to undermine by any means necessary.  As we are now aware, Senator Mitch McConnell united the Republicans around a strategy of obstruction in Congress, aiming to derail any Obama initiative.  In the field, however, the objective was deeper and more demonic.  The aim was to shrink the electorate.  Some Republican ideologues went so far as to argue that the electorate should be reduced and that there were certain people who should not be able to vote because of ignorance or poverty.  But the mass of Republican legislators crafted a strategy that based itself on the argument that there was voter fraud that had to be blocked through new and challenging initiatives in voter registration and voting.  The arguments were as absurd as they were racist.  There was no evidence of anything approaching significant voter fraud, yet the Republicans played upon racist myths and fears among many whites to create an atmosphere where such measures were taken seriously.

    There have been repeated and significant efforts to block voter suppression efforts.  Litigation has been the main tactic and, in some cases, there have been victories.  But with every victory, the pox still spreads as the Republicans prove, once again, to be relentless in their pursuit of total power in the electoral arena.  The question that progressives face is one of what to do?

II

    Progressives and leftists have often not taken matters of voter registration particularly seriously, at least in the post-1965 Voting Rights Act era.  Voter registration and voting rights more generally were relegated to the liberals and non-partisan do-gooders.  While there were leftists, such as Richard Cloward and Frances Fox Piven, who saw the importance of voting rights and registration, they tended to be more the exception than the rule.  Added to this problem, the Democratic Party establishment regularly downplayed voter registration, ignoring the importance of expanding the electorate.  Only in certain campaigns, e.g., during the Black-led electoral upsurge of the 1980s and the Obama campaign in 2008, was voter registration recognized to be of strategic importance in shifting the balance of forces.

    In election years 2010, 2012 and 2014 various organizations, including but not limited to labor unions, mobilized against selective voter suppression efforts, particularly those conducted on Election Day.  Yet the waves of assaults by the Republicans have not ceased and, with the crippling of the Voting Rights Act, the blood lust of the Republicans has become enhanced.  For these reasons, the approach of progressives towards voter suppression needs to be reconsidered.

    The battle for voting rights in the 20th century was not one mainly handled in the courts; it was handled in the ‘court’ of public opinion, specifically the streets.  The dramatization of such efforts in the commercial media whether in the film Selma or in the recent HBO film All the Way reminds us of how repressive election laws once were in many parts of the USA (including but not limited to the South and the Southwest).  It was the work of activists, most especially those associated with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) that made a tremendous difference.  Their work included the development of Citizenship Schools (done in conjunction with the Highlander Folk School), registration efforts and outright protests.  This was exceedingly dangerous work making the courage of the activists that much more exceptional.

    After 1965, there was an assumption in much of the liberal and progressive world that the Voting Rights Act was largely untouchable and that this would be a fortification to restrain the advances of the barbarians of the political Right.  Unfortunately, the barbarians circumvented the fortifications and are now in an all-out assault on democratic rights.  A reliance on court action will be insufficient.

    Which brings us to an approach in the 2016 election year.  Perhaps what is needed is a “Freedom Summer + Fall,” i.e., a major, multi-pronged mobilization that openly challenges voter suppression.  Such an effort would necessitate large numbers of volunteers and the collaboration of organizations.  Yet it is eminently do-able.  Consider:

  1. This effort would need to run from this very moment through Election Day (actually though the certification of the elections).

  2. Voter suppression statutes would need to become the subject of litigation on a very broad scale.  The undemocratic nature of them would need to be demonstrated and court action would be one particular platform.

  3. Voter registration efforts would need to be enhanced with shuttles to get communities to registration sites.  Student volunteers would need to be enlisted as part of a massive registration initiative.

  4. Where local officials obstruct or block registration, there would need to be protests.  Such protests might take the form of well-publicized sit-ins, or they might be massive stand-ins.

  5. Coordinated days of actions would be needed in states raising the issue of voter suppression, particularly documenting the lack of evidence to justify any such efforts.

  6. Absentee voting would need to be encouraged.  This is very important particularly in those states where early voting has been eliminated or cut altogether.

  7. There would need to be a focus on obtaining appropriate documentation.  This might be among the most difficult challenges since there are many people who do not have birth certificates; lost their birth certificates; or for whatever reason are lacking the requisite information.  Create media events that highlight the plight of those who do not have and are unable to obtain the appropriate documentation.

  8. In states that permit gun identification in order register to vote, organized efforts would be needed to secure such identification.

  9. Weekly demonstrations at the Republican National Committee would need to be mounted to raise awareness of this assault on democracy.

  10. Pressure would need to be brought on governors to issue executive orders restoring voting rights to the formerly incarcerated in those states that permanently eliminate them, e.g., the April 2016 executive order by Virginia Governor McAuliffe.

A tremendous danger facing us is that of passively accepting the results of voter suppression efforts.  Longer-term the counterattack on voter suppression will need to be at the level of state legislators.  Progressive candidacies will need to run on the platform of overturning such efforts.  Yet this will only happen when there is the sense of a mass movement.  To the extent to which voter suppression is treated more like a nuisance that is addressed exclusively by litigation, we will lose the battle for democracy and the forces of authoritarianism will have their day in the sun.

Bill Fletcher, Jr. is a talk show host, writer and activist.  He is the author of ‘They’re Bankrupting Us!’ And Twenty Other Myths about Unions. Follow him atwww.billfletcherjr.com.

Source: Voter Repression Is a Serious Problem: It Is Time for a New Freedom Summer | Portside

Why Hillary Doesn’t Fit In With My Feminism | The Progressive Army

Why Hillary Doesn’t Fit In With My Feminism

The continued lack of intersectionality in Feminism and Politics

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Feminism’s struggle with intersectionality brought me to this place: a place where I’m supposed to rally around a cause and a figurehead that ignores my daily struggles. A cause that views me as an afterthought and a political chess piece, and I’m only used every four years and then stored away. A place where white women are able to beam with pride at seeing themselves represented in Hillary and then have the audacity to chastise me for not being on board. The same people who claim to understand white privilege and decry male privilege suddenly forget all that when they want me to get lock step behind them in “uniting the party”.

Question: When is “the party” going to unite behind me?

Also, I’ve got a newsflash for you, a bit of a surprise, as it were. The surprise is that a lot of disenchanted, disillusioned, still disenfranchised black voters found out over the past 7 years. Having someone who looks like you in the Oval Office does NOTHING for changing the state of your circumstances. Not one thing.

No, I never had any fairy-tale beliefs that having President Obama in office would magically fix all that was wrong with race relations in America; no one person could have done that. But many of you did harbor such fantasies and you became and remain disappointed. You were disappointed because the status quo requires that you play by their rules; their field, their ball, and their referees. So while you cheer, jumping up and down braless, tears streaming down your face, breathing a sigh of relief, while thinking that your grandmother’s and mother’s feminist dreams have been realized, you have already forgotten about me.

You have ignored the fact that Hillary is playing by their rules, on their field, using their balls, and their referees. She had to become them to join them and that isn’t going to change a damned thing for us in the long run.

My feminism says that there are too many intelligent, capable, accomplished women out there for me to be wowed at Clinton’s “breaking the glass ceiling”. That ceiling has been chipped at for centuries, just because you hear some glass breaking doesn’t mean that the hole made will be big enough for all of us to climb through.

You can not tell me that you truly understand that just because we have Barack Obama, Colin Powell, Oprah Winfrey and Serena Williams that racism isn’t over and then turn  around and cheer “We did it, ladies!! We’ve dismantled the glass ceiling!!” just because of whatever Hillary has accomplished. Seriously?

The only things of note any Clinton supporter was ever able to bring to me when I asked “Why should I vote for Hillary?” are DESTROYED in this video. She is no friend of Black America and no champion of children (as she is so fond of bringing up her work with theChildren’s Defense Fund, check out Edelman’s statement in the video.)

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FTheYoungTurks%2Fvideos%2F10153450801109205%2F&show_text=0&width=560

Do NOT deign to instruct me on how I have to unify the party with my vote when the strongest point your candidate has is, “We can not allow Donald Trump anywhere near the White House!” This lesser of two evils political strategy that we have been operating under for far too long has us circling the drain in a constant downward spiral, as we fall further and further behind other first world countries.

No appeal to my womanhood, no appeal to my blackness will make me not know what I now know.

Source: Why Hillary Doesn’t Fit In With My Feminism | The Progressive Army

Marvin X on the Last Rites of Muhammad Ali – TheBlackList Pub

Marvin X on the Last Rites of Muhammad Ali

 

As we say goodbye to our beloved brother Muhammad Ali, I submit the following notes on the most recognized man on the planet earth, the man who made the transition from Toby to Kunta Kinte or in his own right or rite, made the revolutionary transformation from a man of Clay (dirt)  to Muhammad Ali, (Arabic: Ali:one who is most high; Muhammad: one who is worthy of much praise).

Continued after the jump ….

In my essay The Psycholinguistic Crisis of the North American African, I wrote:

…The proud African was beaten down from Kunta Kinte to Toby, perhaps the first level in his psycho-linguistic crisis: who am I, what is my name? Once in the Americas, he was no longer Yoruba, Hausa, Ibo, Congo, Ashanti but Negro, and according to Grimm’s law (the consonants C,K, and G being interchangeable) he was dead, from the Greek Necro, dead, lifeless, without motion and spirit.

Of course, he retained some of his African consciousness in the deep structure of his mind, in the bowels of his soul and he expressed it in his dance, his love life, his work habits, his songs and shouts, but basically he was a traumatized victim of kidnapping, rape and mass murder–genocide, for after all, when it was all said and done, between 50 and 100 million of his brothers and sisters were lost in the Middle Passage, the voyage between Africa and the Americas, thrown to the sharks trailing slave ships, one ship named Jesus, the one whose captain had the miraculous conversion and wrote the song Amazing Grace!

But changing the African into Negro was a primary problem in terms of identity which persists until today, even as we speak a new generation is now in the psycholinguistic crisis trying to decide whether they shall be called by Christian, Muslim or traditional African names, trying to decide whether they are Americans, Afro-Americans, African-Americans, Bilalians, Kemites, Sudanese, or North American Africans.

With this term I’ve tried to emphasize our cultural roots by making Africa the noun rather than the adjective. Also, I wanted to identify us geo-politically: we are Africans on the continent of North America, as opposed to Africans in Central and South America, the Caribbean, Europe, Asia or the Motherland. As such, we are unique and have created an original African Culture in North America, imitated throughout the world. For our unique improvisational genius, the Black Arts Movement mystic Sun Ra said we were, “The Latter Day Egyptian Revisionists.”

Muhammad Ali is the grand persona in our psycholinguistic crisis, for he represents our battle for identity formation and verbal expression, i.e., his verbosity and poetics, and yet he transcended psycholinguistics to encompass and express the crisis of the African physique (the struggle of the African body in time and space) as well as the political struggle of the North American African nation to achieve liberation from oppression in America and throughout the world. 

In the manner of his model, Jack Johnson, the North American African who beat America’s  great white hope, Jim Jeffries,  to win the heavyweight championship of the world and caused one of the worst race riots in American history, July 4, 1910, Ali also expressed unforgivable Blackness, minus the white women of Jack Johnson’s delight. 
 

Alas, America established the Mann Act after Jack Johnson’s ritual (and conviction)  of transporting white women across state lines for prostitution. Psycholinguistically speaking, call it the Black Man Act, a more precise definition of the term.

          
 Jim Jeffries and Jack Johnson

Ali’s greatness transcended the boxing ring to advance our struggle beyond civil rights (civil rites, Sun Ra) into the arena of human rights that Malcolm X tried to teach Ali and us. 

 
 Of course we cannot mention Ali and Malcolm X without including their teacher, the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad. 

 
Ali and Malcolm, both inspired by Elijah’s son, Warith Deen or Wallace,  attempted to transcend the Nation of Islam’s unorthodox theology for Sunni orthodoxy but we see today with the turmoil in the Sunni Islamic world, North American Africans are being forced to reconsider the teachings of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad (evidenced by the Hip Hop generation’s embrace of 5% Islam and Noble Drew Ali’s Moorish Science), especially his cry to leave Sunni Islam alone and embrace North American African Islamic mythology in the same manner Africans, especially West Africans, have their unique version of Islam, no matter what Arabs, Pakistani or others say about it. West Africans have their own holy city in Touba, Senegal, a city as sacred to them  as Mecca to Sunni Muslims. (While writing in North Carolina, when a taxi driver told me he was Senegalese, I asked him if he knew about Bamba? He turned around to show me his T-shirt with a picture of Bamba. I then asked if Bamba was a holy man? He replied, “Bamba was beyond holy!” Of course, Bamba was a Sufi or Islamic mystic revolutionary who fought against French colonialism in Senegal. The story goes that he was under arrest aboard a ship being transported to an island prison when he wanted to pray, so he jumped off the ship, prayed in the water and returned to the ship for the ride to prison.

The madness of Sunni inspired ISIS and the Sunni denunciation of Shia Islam, Ahmadiyya Islam and other sects to the point of annihilation of their members, is beyond the human imagination in barbarity except we know Christians have been known for similar savagery, e.g., Irish Catholics and Protestants, not to mention genocidal Hindu attacks on Muslims, Sikhs and Buddhist; or Buddhist attacks on non Buddhists. We are of the Sufi belief: the only religion is the religion of the heart! 

In the end, we think Muhammad Ali saw himself as a divine being in human form, true to his name,i.e., the most high, worthy of much praise. And we think the world agreed with him, for he revealed himself to be one of the greatest human beings who walked the earth.

As-Salaam Alaikum, Muhammad Ali! Surely we are from Allah and to Him we return!

–Marvin X

6/7/16

Chapter 30 contains notes by Marvin X on Muhammad Ali

Marvin X at his Academy of da Corner, 14th and Broadway, Black Arts Movement Business District, downtown Oakland CA