Tuesday, February 8, 2011

[uncensored]: Stay Black and Die

As salaam alaikum,

One of my favorite quotes from the movie that I've never seen all the way through, but that I heard so many people quote before:

"I don't have to do nothin' but stay black and die."

Very telling, very reflective of frustrations many of my brothers and sisters in ancestry feel. My roommate thinks that the stress pathway being used to explain why all black women, even college-educated, high income black women, have higher rates of low birth rate and infant mortality than both white women and sub-Saharan African and African-born women of the same socioeconomic status is bullshit. But she also cherishes her fair skin, the legacy of her mixed background, and has probably seldom seen or felt the racism darker-skinned black women have.

It is not bullshit. It makes me angry when she doubts that stress of racism would have anything to do with the increased infant mortality in a population that otherwise should be as healthy as our sub-Saharan counterparts, if genetics mean anything.

I'm not as fair as her, necessarily (and she actually periodically rejects the fact that I am fair at all because I'm darker than her, and she has repeatedly expressed that she is the center of the universe, so what can I do), but I see the difference. I've gone into stores with my mother where she was treated like shit and I was smiled at and told to have a nice day. By black women.

Let me make things clear. I am not my predecessors in the Nation of Islam. You do not see me talking on here about the evils of the White Man. Some of that stress of racism is internal, not only within ourselves but within our communities, from our "brothers" and "sisters" in ancestry. Maybe not even ancestry. Blood used to be thicker than water. Siblings in skin color who must despise us as an extension of despising themselves.

I don't know. I'm just speculating.

Yes, things are internal, but racism is external, too. I still show my solidarity for the youth movement in Egypt, I still follow the stories every day, awaiting progress and next steps as another dictator bites the dust. However, even though one struggle at a time, I guess, let's remember how we treat our brothers and sisters. I read this article on TheRoot.com, and it was unsurprising based on all I've known as I came into Islam, but still a damn shame.

"I learned something much different from what I believed," said Bala, a native of northern Nigeria and a graduate student at the American University in Cairo, who lived in Egypt for six years. "I thought [the Arabs] were our brothers in Islam, but they don't bother about that when you're black. ... They pretend that you are a brother in Islam, but this is different from what they hold in their hearts and in their minds." - Sunni Khalid, Egypt's Race Problem.

I read this and I can't really get angry. I was saddened at some of the sub-Saharan Muslims leaving Islam because of the racism they faced in Egypt. I feel for Khalid's wife, Zeinab, who gets treated like a prostitute because of her skin color, but I can't play like I haven't rode my fair skin in places where black people were disparaged. *cough*Dominican Republic*cough*. I can't get angry because it's the same story, every day, every time...

We know this to be true, the racism that inhibits the growth of Islam. We may have more babies than people in other religions, but we need to stop focusing on quantity and more on quality.

I was disillusioned long ago. It's not even a thing. Like that Nigerian student said, I thought we were all siblings in Islam, but then I discovered that people don't see us that way when we're black. So much for the interracial nature of Islam, the thing that brought me to Islam in the first place. So much for the Qur'an and the Prophet's last speech.

Staying black and dying is never enough for me. No racist can take my relationship with Allah (swt) away from me. So excuse me, I'm going to stay a black and Muslim until insha'Allah...

And I pray that, whenever I am so blessed, I carry my beautiful, black babies to term.


  1. Thank you for the Egypt article, I have been feeling rather regretful for not having gone before, now at least, I clearly remember why I jumped at Yemen.. then again, I was mistaken for a prostitute there anyway... People are people whether Muslim, Christian Jew or animist and that is the end of it.

    As to the racism factor I totally agree with you that it's there (in every aspect of life, which actually scares me, as a pseudo-African American). But what can be done?

    many people outside and as your roommate's comments show, inside the community don't care/don't believe. Perhaps some sort of stress releasing exercise that could take away the anxieties of racism? yeah, I am grasping at straws here.

  2. Salaam, sis,

    Yeah, there are things that can be done in terms of the stress effect of racism, and I think it will come in the form of community building...from enhancing the relationship of neighbors to providing better resources for people in minority and low socioeconomic neighborhoods.

    And yes, I don't get angry when I hear stories about racism anymore because I understand that no one is exempt from being human, so from whatever good and feelings of brotherhood you get from individuals, there's bound to be others out there that are stuck on our differences. It's okay...it's all about what the few of us who realize the wrong do about it in our communities.

    In everything, there is hope. :)

  3. True, Egypt has its share of racists against blacks. I hope a new day is coming for that too. I have heard and believe that theory about preterm births and racism. May we work to alleviate both racism in Egypt and racism in America. Don't give up on the Egyptians just yet. I didn't think they could break out of their mentality of accepting that life is nothing more than a house with a white picket fence, a dog, and 2.5 kids but they have, in surprising ways. Those people in Cairo many are wealthy but they are fighting for justice and equality alongside the poor. They are putting aside their differences. If the human spirit can rise above class lines then they can rise against racism in due time as well.