In the past two weeks, I have had a number of conversations with Blackamerican friends and colleagues (Muslim) who have expressed dismay of the present state of Black America. I commiserated with them, expressing my own turbulent thoughts. I thought I might share a few of these thoughts here. Just as a note: these thoughts are the culmination of ideas based upon my personal experiences, observations, conversations, research and scholarship, and as a concerned citizen. I welcome any feedback and constructive criticism. However, if your words are nothing other than vitriol, save the electrons, as I will not be posting them.
And God knows best,
In a recent talk I had mentioned that Black folks have steadily become the most secular people in the United States. This surprised many people, especially other Black folks, who thought of themselves and other Black folks as being particularly religious. However, when I directed them to look at their lived realities, the social and existential conditions, the proof was in the pudding.
Secular: of or pertaining to worldly things or to things that are not regarded as religious, spiritual, or sacred; temporal: secular interests. For Black folks [though not exclusively], their lives are based not on the sacred, but on the profane. Our lives are lived in sexual promiscuity to such an extent that it is literally killing us. Sexually transmitted diseases, such as AIDS, are ravaging our community, with consequences we can’t even fully imagine or comprehend. Our social achievement is at an all-time low, with our economic and educational disparities equal to those of third-world levels. At the heart of all this is a broken spirit, a broken heart. The legacy of slavery and the psychological terrorism visited upon us as a collective people have driven us to the point of self-loathing and potentially, self-annihilation. America has proven it is incapable [and perhaps not even truly interested] in giving Black folks what they need: God. And it is there that Black folks are no different than any other racial group: God without man is an abomination. A combination of conflicting psychoses; the tyrant and the deviant.
It may sound superficial to say that Islam possess the solution, indeed, the only solution for what plagues Black folks (as indeed it has for all the sons and daughters of Adam and Eve), but I believe this simple fact. For at its root, Islam’s endeavor with the human being is not about (in its means/ends) building nation-states, Shari’ah laws, and a host of other misconceived and misconstrued neologisms, but rather Islam is about the holistic redemption of the human being. That aching black whole in humanity’s heart, from which even divinely-reflected light cannot escape, can only be plugged by submitting, submitting ourselves to an order, a hierarchy, a teleology whose means is to that Ultimate End. All subsequent attempts to fill the gap have failed: alcohol, sex, Civil Rights, a Black president, etc.
But there is more to this laundry list of terms than simply checking them off. There is a route, a method of arriving at that destination, and certain qualifiers must be met along the way. We must rebuild our families, where children have parents who are together and parents who love their children, who will sacrifice for their children. Much of the street violence and sexual deviant behaviors can be attributed to children simply not feeling loved. The neighborhood that I hailed from in Detroit is a sad yet poignant testimony to this fact: out of all the children from my generation (roughly 35 – 50 years old presently), the vast majority of them are either dead from violence or locked up (another form of slow death). The intervening factor? Two parents. My parents, al-Hamdulillah, have been married for over 50 years. My Allah increase them in this success and guide them. Amin. This had a tremendous impact on us, even though we faced the same violence to the extent that our family was forced to abandon our home due to fire bombings and other forms of violence. It was the security we three felt in knowing that our mother was in the house, that our father was involved in our lives, even though I saw little of my father as he worked midnights at the Post Office for the majority of my youth.
Black self-esteem is another critical issue that must be addressed. For far too long, young black children have felt deficient in the greater social arena, where the dominant culture has pressed down upon them their own demiurgic aesthetic, a whole social pantheon in which they have no part to play in. To paraphrase one scholar who wrote, it is not simply enough to dislike racism, but it is indeed incumbent upon oneself to resist it as one would resist religious oppression, for it is surely another form of religious oppression in that its ultimate goal—if we were to succumb to social apathy—is our genuflection to that false idol. To oppose racism, in other words, for Black folks is not simply to oppose some form of social negligence, but to oppose that which would deny Black folks of la ilaha illa Allah (there is no diety but God). And it is indeed the remoteness of God that plagues Blackamerica (as it plagues White America for that matter too, only the symptoms have different manifestations—this would explain something of the resurgence of White American Christianity), which is why we see the near-total demise of Blackamerica in the collapse of traditional Black religion and spirituality, be it Christianity, Islam, or other.
It is not possible to have any of the options above—family, education, economics, or self-esteem—if as a people, we continue down the path of sexual immorality, or to more direct, to treat the subject of sex as if it were a secular matter, where God and religion have had nothing to say on the topic. AIDS and other STD’s are only the most overt manifestations of this catastrophe. Along with this has come the destruction of the primary unit, the primary point of departure for any human being: the family. Children born into the world, who are not loved, not wanted, and not cared for, will only continue to be as self-destructive as they presently are (not to mention their continued ascension to destructive adults). Not only will education and economic stability become major if not inobtainable obstacles for these children, they will have little to no other social recourse other than to repeat the same tragic steps themselves, producing another generation whose internalization of said values will have intensified, not unlike toxins moving through the biological food chain.
If there is any truth in the analogy of the family being a nucleus, we must build solid families as the building blocks for a solid and stable society. Any attempt to placate individual, collective, and social behaviors that lead to the detriment of this will only fail, as they have fail, and continue to spur on the path to social annihilation.