Sister Ginny has an interesting piece on “keeping quiet” and her experience grows out of her being a non-Gambian interested in issues of Gambia. This is an intersecting topic for Muslims in America and I see this as part of an issue of color and the convoluted mixture of leftism, political Islam and anti-whiteness that is unique to the American-Muslim. This issue becomes even more interesting when viewed by Ginny, because she is blind, and has never seen color.
Muslim or non-Muslim if you are white you will always be looked at as a racist by most African-Americans and a lot of other people of color and this can be extended to Muslims from places such as Gambia or Bangladesh or whatever. If you are working in any advocacy group for any of these countries you are there to cheerlead and assist them, not to be a dissenting or critical voice (and if you are you will be reminded you are a white devil whose job it is to fell guilty and support whatever they have to say no matter how illogical). Your job is to be the white mascot and it helps if you have money to donate to the cause. It is difficult to see how anyone can maintain any self-respect while playing this role and I think it is a losing battle to ever try and convince non-whites, especially blacks, you are not racist, and I am not going to sit around and patronize some group of morons out of some sense of white guilt.
To be clear I seldom have this problem, if ever, as I don’t think there are very many black people, if any, who I know who think I am a racist ( there are white people who have thought I was an anti-white racist); but if they did I would not be kissing their butt trying to make them think otherwise I would be telling them to get out of my face and of course this is something that a guilty white liberal cannot do because any sign of aggression towards an African-American is seen as bordering on racism.
How does this affect the Muslim community? It is two-fold, and one part of the equation is the guilty white liberal infected with leftist thought and the other part is the Black Nationalist Muslim. I specifically address this in a black and white issue because everything else in America, whether it is Latinos or Arabs, in terms of this kind of an attitude is an imitation of the black-white dynamic.
The guilty-white liberal can attend a black Masjid, and be accepted and even loved, but they have to play the role of the flunky and agree with the program. As soon as they differ with Masjid leadership, or the culture of the Masjid no matter how crazy it is, they are immediately reminded they are white and they should feel guilty. This often means you are supposed to look at a Masjid full of brothers who don’t work, are unemployed with two wives, have been married 20 times, and the roof is falling in, but you are supposed to be quiet, it aint your place to talk. The same goes with the Arab or Desi Masjid, as long as you do not differ with those in charge you are accepted, as soon as you do, then you are told you are speaking out of place and think differently because you are white and an American. With these brothers you are supposed to accept their hostility towards blacks as just a normal part of their culture and you are culturally unaware if you call them on it, and are supposed to listen to them tell you McDonalds is engaged in some kind of conspiracy against the Palestinians and you are not supposed to look at them like they are nuts.
In the past this has largely been a minor issue as leftists have been hostile to all people of faith, Muslims included, and white leftists didn’t see any need in joining “reactionary misogynistic Islam”; but with the end of the Cold War and the rise of Islam in the black community Islam became very attractive to many guilty-white liberals. Then came the fetishizing of Palestine above all other global conflicts, 9-11 and Iraq and guilty white liberals were running in force to the Masjid as Muslims were seen as the new oppressed group were their pre-Islamic concepts allowed them to be comfortable in the role of flunkies and non-believing subversives with political agendas as all that was really important to them is the political and social aspects of Islam, not the Aqeedah or Ibaaadah. If someone is down for Palestine it doesn’t matter if they don’t pray and if the oppose the occupation of Iraq they can not accept hadith and that is fine, the important thing is politics, right?
For many white Muslims this is not a problem and I know of some white brothers who try and pass for Arab or Latino, who deny their Americaness , I know of sisters who grew up in the Midwest who speak with Arabic or Desi accents and are perfect Arab and Desi wives, white sisters who have been married to 10 or 15 different African-American brothers, and all of these white Muslims have one thing in common-they all hate the fact their skin is white, and I know this because I used to feel the same way.
This is not just an issue for white Muslims ( who have a host of other issues such as arrogance, giving their secular education precedent over the revealed knowledge, having their sincerity doubted and being accused of being spies by ignorant Muslims and I am waiting for MANA, Imam Zaid, Imam Johari or MAS to address this, etc. ). Many African-American Muslims also have pre-Islamic attitudes that they bring with them into Islam that often supercede their Islamic view of the world such as Black Nationalism and street thuggery and often these all get mixed-up into one convoluted ball when they are Muslim. The “white man” becomes the “kafir” and criminal behavior suddenly becomes “jihad” just as it became “revolutionary” with the Black Panthers and other groups that engaged in criminal activities. Then and now, crime was about one thing- getting paid. In the jahiliya they sat around and talked about the white man putting anti-spermicidal in 50-cent sodas in the ghetto and in Islam they sit around and talk about how 9-11 was an inside job.
I will make one additional note to what Ginny said; Muslims are not open for the most part to internal discourse of prolems within the community. Pick up a Muslim publication such as the Mirror, the Crescent, the Muslim Observer, or go to a major convention , and you will find that Muslims are very aggressive in attacking issues of Islamophobia and external threats to Muslims but are silent in addressing the problems within the community, and thank Allah for the blogosphere or none of these issues would be discussed.
These are just some of the issues that the mixture creates. There are many more but in the interest of time I will leave it at this for now.