This is the America that you can find in many cities and ghettos throughout the nation. These areas are populated by African-Americans, Latinos, Muslim immigrants, Asian immigrants, Africans, Caribbean immigrants and a sprinkling of white workers and enlightened white people.
In this America you will find, as rapper Mos Def has said, “where the pain and the poetry is.’ Meaning that it is here where you will find street-gangs, violence, poverty, decay, STD’s, crime of all sorts, trash-lettered streets, pimps and hoes, and the list goes on.
For some people that is all they can see. The American conservatives see these areas as cesspools of crime filled with minorities that should be avoided at all costs and should not be the recipient of government aid. Some on the left see these areas as places that need to be reformed and redone and that the residents will benefit from their wisdom which they have learned from books and in universities. They can see the pain; but they fail to see the poetry.
It is in this America that Hip-Hop was born and this is the geographic-base of Hip-Hop. It is here were the styles and trends that Americans follow are born. It is here were neighbors still know one another, strangers speak to each other, where you can be yourself, where you can operate outside of the system and where independent business can still thrive.
This is an America that one rarely sees on television and film; but an America that is growing. When your average American thinks of images of New York City in the media they think of Seinfeld, Friends and Sex in the City and they are mistaken. The New York of coffee shops and wine and cheese tasting makes up at maximum 15% of the population of the city. In fact, about half of those in that demographic are not even from New York but have traveled to NYC in order to imitate what they have seen on TV.
Compare that to the millions of African-Americans and Latinos in NYC, the 800,000 Muslims, the growing Asian population, the vibrant South Asian community and the dozens of other little groups from Little Kosovo in the Bronx to Little Senegal Uptown. That is the real NYC; for every one woman who looks like Sarah Jessica Parker and frets over fashion magazines you have fifteen who look like J. Lo (thank God).
These are the communities that are home to the most vibrant Muslim communities, where Islam is not seen as the enemy, and were Muslims are a recognized part of fabric of the community.
The Muslim group often exists in close proximity to Orthodox Jewish enclaves, barrios and ghettos. Here you will not sip on wine and taste veggie-treats but you will taste quarter waters, fifty-cent sodas, jerk chicken, beans and rice and halal meals.
Without this community there would be no American economy because this community supplies the labor that fuels the American economy. When those on the outside view the hostility of America towards the rest of the world, they need to omit this group and these neighborhoods, because they don’t need to search for enemies abroad they have enemies here in the US (anti-immigration groups, the right-wing, white Gentrifiers, Muslim-haters, racists and others).
America Number Two
The second America exists next door to the first and in fact is not only encroaching on the first America but is seeking to eradicate it completely. This America is made-up of mostly educated white people who are culturally liberal and those people of color who are either still in the neighborhood or have bought into their way of life.
In these areas you will find much that is good; independent book stores, indie movie theatres, ethnic cuisine, pedestrian areas and good libraries. But unlike the first America you will not find very many friendly people; they have moved into the cities but are still as unfriendly to strangers as they were in the suburbs. They have a better looking house but they still want you off the lawn and form neighborhood watch groups that would send the cops after Martin Luther King if he was walking home late at night.
Their progressiveness is about lifestyle issues and it begins and ends there. You will not find any real commitment to workers-rights, racial-justice and religious-tolerance here instead you will find people who use Harvard studies and NPR specials to justify their bigotry.
In Boboland the ideology of neo-conservatism was born; people wanted a hawkish military policy and a police state but still wanted to read Playboy and eat sandwiches in sidewalk cafes. It is because of this that NYC has seen three consecutive elections were Republicans have been elected because they may watch a foreign film at night but in the day they voted Republican so the police could “keep the foreigners in line”.
Muslims can find some friends in these areas; people who are upset about the erosion of civil liberties in America and who want a more humane US foreign policy. However these brave souls are in the minority; these Bobos will not hate Islam because they are pro-Israel hawks, military hawks or Evangelical Christians (as a rule). They will hate Islam because they hate religion, all religion, and because they see Muslims as backwards and inferior to them and their way of life. In their condemnation of Islam they will not quote Pat Robertson; they will quote Andrew Sullivan or even Bernard Lewis.
* Bobo means bohemian bourgeois and was coined by David Brooks
America Number Three
The Kernel of Evil
A Rand expert once remarked “Saudi Arabia is the kernel of evil” in the world of Islam from which evil spreads. Clearly he was wrong about that but I will borrow the phrase.
In America the kernel of evil is exurbia; the deep suburbs. Please note this is not all suburbs because in the America of today suburbs are some of the most diverse areas in America. The first America increasingly exists in suburbia and you now have ethnic-suburbs, ghetto suburbs, Bobo suburbs and the whole nine yards.
However, in the deep suburbs you will find those lily-white conservative areas. These are areas that are full of chain box stores and fast food joints. The streets don’t have sidewalks and the landscape is full of big pickup trucks, mini-vans and SUV’s.
On every street you will find a church, most of them will be evangelical churches of the right-wing variety, and many are mega-churches.
The men have run from minorities they are afraid of and seek to raise their families in places where all the kids look the same. They feel security in driving in their big trucks, listening to conservative talk radio, with their W sticker on the back of their truck. These men are fiercely Pro-War and their language is filled with Islamophobic and racist language. They hate immigrants but their lifestyle completely revolves around being served by immigrants and they could not survive without them. With veins popping in their necks they call for the blood of Muslims and see George W. Bush as a modern day crusader. Christianity to them is cultural and doesn’t really have much to do with practice.
In reality these men couldn’t bust a grape in a food fight and ride in big trucks because they are terrified in getting their butts kicked by a black guy in a Cutlass. They support the war but wouldn’t go to war themselves and more than likely wouldn’t let their children go. These guys are full of hate, and make possible the evil foreign policies of America and bring the Republicans to power, but they are all talk and wouldn’t be caught dead in the first America after dark.
The women of these areas vary. On one hand you have the conservative Christian women who are the keepers of virtue for the community and they dress modestly and try to teach their kids morals and values. Unlike the women from the Bobo crowd they are not swingers, dominatrixes, and don’t enjoy defecating on sick men. They also see a joy in having children and are proud to be mothers unlike many Bobos who either do not want children, outsource the raising of the one they have and such.
Some of these women are cut from another cloth. They are gold-diggers and bigots. Just as some of these women have been the keepers of virtue they have also been the biggest supporters of racism in this country and today are pro-war “security moms”.
You can know many of these women by their fake blond hair, fake nails, fake breasts and fat bank accounts. Unlike what the white feminist movement will tell you; these women are the white ruling class. They have no glass ceiling; rather they are sitting on top of the ceiling shouting down orders and if they don’t like the response they’ll take 50% and run. Remember these women? Or did the women’s movement forget to tell you that these were the same white women that black men got lynched over?
This America is not reformable. As Muslims we can give them Dawah but other than that we can only expect hatred, prison and murder from this crowd and this is the crowd that overwhelmingly controls the military, law-enforcement and now controls all branches of government. Unlike what many on the left will tell you, that if these people read and studied they would change, these people will not change for all the money in the world. They are what they are and they fully realize it and they will not change or open up, they will only get worse, and it is up to the masses of the world’s people and the Muslim ummah to make sure they do not succeed.