100 Degrees in a .250 City

On some nights craziness is just in the air and I wish people could see what I see and feel what I feel. Get inside my head and live what I have lived and see why America is not the model-society for me, and the underside to Western values, and why I do not want many of these values to seep any further into the minds of Muslims. See why I see no reason for Muslims to be on the defensive and every reason for us to be on the offensive.

Summer days for a cabbie in St. Louis are long and hard because this is the slow time of the year and this means that whenever business is poppin you have to work extra hard in order to get your money and so on Saturday night I worked like 20 hours straight well into Sunday with only taking breaks for gas and salat.

I came out late so I could work all night and I got a few short trips and was waiting for the night to really take off and be busted open with a good trip when I got called to do a pickup at a local hospital and take a man to East St. Louis. After waiting in the emergency room driveway with no one coming out I went in angry that whoever I was picking up was probably too lazy to look for the cab and expected me to come in and get them and instead I found a 400 pond middle-aged black man with diabetes whose foot had swollen up to the size of an elephant who could not even get his shoe on and looked like he could barely move and yet he was being discharged from the hospital.

A clean-shaven doctor who from his voice sounded gay ( although with the advent of “metrosexualism” you can never really tell) told me that this was my passenger and that he was being discharged and that he would send an orderly to help him get in the cab and momentarily a young black guy with long braids came out to help the man get in the cab and it still took him like 15 minutes to get in because the man was so weak that he could not even stand or move himself a few inches. When I asked what seemed like a normal question ” how is he going to get out of the cab once we get to East St. Louis” the hospital people gave me a mean look and the guy said the “people hanging out on the porch will help me” whatever that meant.”

While this was going on a car rushed into the driveway and came within inches of hitting me and it was full of young black kids dressed like gang-bangers and they jumped out and pulled a blood-soaked young light-skinned guy out of the Old School Chevy and the hospital police and EMT’s responded in a well-rehearsed drill they had been through many times at the arrival of gunshot victims. Personally, when I saw this, I was really in a hurry to get the hell out of there because whoever had fired the shorts to begin with may want to show up at the hospital and finish the job they started and shoot me on accident.

It had been over 100 degrees all week with high humidity and the heat remained in the 90’s even into the night and people from St. Louis who know the streets will tell you that when temperatures get that high tempers are short and bodies start dropping so I was not the least bit surprised to see this young gang-banger shot and will be surprised if it gets any media attention in print because it does not go along with the safe image of St. Louis they are trying to promote in order to entice yuppies to move into the city as part of the Negro-removal program of the urban liberal globos.

The ride over to East Boogie was straight and sweet and the guy just lived off of State Street on 37th so it was not hard to get to but no cabbie likes going to East St. Louis beyond the Casino Queen if we do not have to because it is dark, lawless, and the roads are in poor condition. In other words maybe it is something like the American-version of the Western Frontier Province in Pakistan ( minus honor killings and inbreeding and plus baby mammas and street hookers) The problem occurred because there was nobody to wait for us when we got there and the guy could not even move a few inches to get out of the cab so I had to pick up this 400 pond man and pull him out of the cab and then try and carry him up the steps into his home and he was just too heavy and he fell on the sidewalk.

After a few minutes of not knowing what to do I called 911 and they dispatched the police and ambulance but because this was the East Side I knew they would take all day and as we were waiting a crowd of gang-bangers and hoochie mammas gathered around joined by some families members from inside the home who suddenly appeared ( but were nowhere to be found when I needed help) and I have to be honest I was not crazy about the situation I found myself in but had been told by my dispatcher to wait until the ambulance or police arrived to leave. When I guy in a suit and a badge form work showed up it kind of eased my mind because he seemed to be like a neighborhood elder or something, the kind of black man that is a respected figure in many urban neighborhoods and a role model that many of the young can gravitate to, and he came over to me and talked to me, and told the man that had been in my cab that he needs to go and live in a facility and he will help him get into one.

When the ambulance did arrive 45 minutes later I could not help but wonder what would have happened if this man was in desperate need of medical care and an ambulance took this long to come? Or about why this man was discharged from one of the Top-ten ranked hospitals in the country in this condition? I would have loved to have had one of those who defended the health-care system and attacked the Michael Moore film Sicko, like Sanjay Gupta, in my cab at this time. Because what I saw in this man was a living example of how f***** our system is and of how f***** our diets are that we can eat ourselves into that condition and, even if this were not the case, a poor man like this can expect no real help from our sick-care system.

A few trips later I was leaving Lacledes Landing on a desolate strip of Chouteau Street when I man who looked to be in a bad condition came running towards my cab on my side and I turned to head off any attack and was more then ready and able to send him to Yam-ul-Qayam when I realized he just wanted a ride and he got in and I put the car in reverse to get the girl he was with. The guy had been beaten up at a club and was in need of a ride home and his girl, who was more than half-naked was consoling him in my backseat in a way that is not for basic cable if you know what I mean and I’m not sure if that is better or worse then the girl the night before who repeatedly punched and bit her boyfriend because he told some girl at the club she had a nice ass. Thankfully for me they were going far, out to Collinsville, and they were pleasant and from that point on things just started rolling and I got good trips left and right and the money began stacking up until I got tired but could not go to sleep because I promised a Muslim brother I would go to his place for a BBQ.

In the morning I took old ladies to church and had to turn off of NPR because of my disgust at these secular liberals who emailed the show at their outrage and sheer disgust with wealthy families who decided to have a lot of kids ( and in that antidote right here we an see that their values are totally incompatible with those of Muslims) and listened to the Freeman Bosley. Jr. show where I heard “George Bush needs Jesus” before taking it in to write this article before going to the BBQ.

No days in St. Louis are that great, and this is ten times more true for a Muslim, but some days are better than others and are pretty good. In that respect living here, being a Muslim, writing and driving a cab in all of this isolation and racial division is kind of like being a .250 hitter in baseball who can hit .300 during a month every now and then but will then go .190 just to remind you what he is all about.

New York on the other hand is a city where you can feel like Ted Williams on some days, the last .400 hitter, as you are surrounded by so much beauty, diversity, energy, and creativity ; but on a bad day New York can make you feel worse than a .250 hitter, more like Bill Buckner in the 1986 World Series.

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37 thoughts on “100 Degrees in a .250 City

  1. The experiences of a cab driver would make a great book. Saturday nights, esp, nothing so sad and hilarious.

    Liberals have been anti-marriage and anti-family long as I can remember, don’t know why, and used to sneer at Christians as if they weren’t voters. Now they seem to be sucking up to churchgoers.

    Never thought I would say this, but a draft would probably straighten out at least some of the idle and violent young men.

  2. Umar,
    Is this chicken or egg? Are you suffering from alienation as a Muslim or have you alienated yourself? Hmmm.

    As far as the poor man, the diabetic with the bad foot, what do you suggest? He cannot live at the hospital and someone sicker than him is probably lying in the emergency room hoping for his bed.

    I know you are well-traveled and assume you have been to sub-Sahara Africa? Try looking at a complete population demographic in the hundreds of thousands trying to access one hospital and one clinic. Or the thousands of women in the “fistula belt” who are given in marriage too young, bear children too young, and develop fistula’s which are never repaired and suffer infections for the rest of their lives and ostracization from the greater community. Some things, a Friday night ghusl will just not cure.

    I sense you have compassion for the human condition yet are highly anti-West. A somewhat of an odd combination, given that many people in America travel to underserved areas of the world using up their own PTO time and dollars to help the needy. On my return from a civilian humanitarian mission to Mongolia, where I took two weeks off work without pay, we encountered a couple at one airport who had just returned from a trip to SE Asia where they had purchased a nice boat for poor fishermen. Americans are generous with their money and talents. You choose to focus on things which confirm your beliefs, not things which will shake them a bit.

    Tammy Swofford

  3. I guess its now “anti-west” to criticize the collapsing US health care system. Oh, but I forgot, we’re talking about Tammy here. Its heartening to hear how these selfless individuals are willing to go as far as Mongolia(“humanitarian intervention” is such a nice thing, those 650000 plus dead Iraqis are lovin’ it) yet don’t seem too eager “intervene” in disadvantaged communities in their own country.
    Nothing like the “freedom” of discharging a poorly controlled diabetic who’ll probably have his foot amputated anyway.

  4. DrM

    What health care system do you suggest the united states adopts?

    Umar Lee

    I’m finding some pages on your site won’t load properly in firefox v2.0

    thought i might let you know.

  5. “Americans are generous with their money and talents”

    what money….. i have never seen america’s money cashing on my country expect through the hands of warlords that only serve their own interests and kill their own citzens if they try to dissent.

    Tammy ask your self this question why Americans dont help their own people, why is that the divorce rates are all time high [some polls suggest 75% of married couples divorce eventually], or why is there a large segment of the population that cant pay their rent without a second or third job and why the education system is failing with the dropout of high school students is higher than Western Europe and this country is suppose to be the shining light of the world. there are other social ills that are not worth mentioning.

    As for talents…. what talents besides MTV,Vh1 and Hollywood crap and stupid gangsta rap with the women degrading themselves with promotion of the pimp lifestyle

    I think Americans should clean up their own house before helping us in our own.

  6. “…a civilian humanitarian mission to Mongolia, where I took two weeks off work without pay…”

    Where you left the poor Mongolian family you stayed with a food deficit that’ll last for five years, whereas before they had a surplus?

    Americans need all their dollars to spend on the drums of latte and MacMuffins from Starbucks that they are so fond of. Wonder how many of them even realise a small muffin packs an unbelieveable 520 calories? Even if you are gullible and stupid enough to believe you can consume (for a woman) 2000calories p.d and still stay healthy, a muffin is a quarter of your daily allowance.

  7. There are a number of ways to fix the collapsing US health care system, boozed pengo. First, dismantle the AMA, which is mafia like organization based on dollars, not patient care. Second, heavily slash the military budget. No more socialized military, invest that money in the health care system to cover everybody. Third, shut down the parasitic relationship between HMOs, pharm reps and doctors. Finally comes the patient, if they won’t comply with their medication out of sheer lazyness(theres plenty of those), they can pay for future treatment. Problem solved.
    In the meantime, forget the brand names, go for the generics.

  8. Tammy,
    I see, if we use that same logic then I suppose we would be anti-African or anti-developing nations when we point out corruption, poverty, nepotism, exploitation. It is a rather weak effort at deflecting criticism.

    Neo-liberalism is causing major havoc in Africa, and the people who suffer the most are women and children. Pick up any book on structural adjustment and poverty and you’ll find out that many developing nations are worse off.

    If Americans and other westerners are so generous, we should press the World Bank and the IMG to stop forcing African governments cut health services, education services and developments. I think that can do a lot more good then your few weeks of vacaction.

  9. “structural adjustment”

    Margari,

    Are they still imposing SAPs on anyone in Africa? Haven’t heard much about them since the economy of Ghana which had previously been stable was broken and brought down to its knees.

    Just say No to SAPs, is my message to all developing nations.

  10. Umar said, “I was not the least bit surprised to see this young gang-banger shot and will be surprised if it gets any media attention in print…”

    Why is this? I’m always frustrated normal decent law abiding black men and women never make news. The black community is full of numerous beautiful examples of decency and moral soundness. If you looked at the media, you’d think being a baby mamma was the norm, it’s not. IF one travels further down south, you’d see many young MARRIED black couples, and several generations of solid families, as the south is still very old fashioned in many ways.

    Umar, why don’t you ever mention the normal black folks you know? I’m certain you know more of them than the latter. I live in the hood and all I see are two parent families, beautiful black fathers with their children and wives.

    What about rural america where the whites live in poverty and the baby mammas are rampant…. this is the other side of America the media covers as well (the first as I mentioned – decent black people).

  11. “…a 400 pond middle-aged black man with diabetes…”

    Umar. What do you suppose my viseral reaction to this line was? More important, what do you think it should be? In any case… take out “middle-aged/black/man/diabetes” and what do you have? Someone apparently set on committing suicide – on our dime since chances are “the government” is paying for this person’s suicidal behavior. (I suppose an overactive pituitary gland or other purely medical disease could be the reason for this person’s size… but I wouldn’t bet on it.)

    Next…

    “a car rushed into the driveway and came within inches of hitting me and it was full of young black kids dressed like gang-bangers and they jumped out and pulled a blood-soaked young light-skinned guy out of the Old School Chevy and the hospital police and EMT’s responded in a well-rehearsed drill they had been through many times at the arrival of gunshot victims.”

    Again… what am I – what are we – to make of this? How should we react? How would your “model society” react?

    “…the Negro-removal program of the urban liberal globos.”

    Umar. Dude. Since you’re the one who keeps on using black people as the poster children for bad behavior… (*SMILE*)

    I mean, Umar… I’m about the furthest thing from an urban liberal globo that you’re gonna see… but it seems to me that you’re the one making the case for… if not a “Negro-removal” program… then perhaps a “Leech and/or predator on society” removal program.

    Anyway, Umar… perhaps it’s me… perhaps it’s you… but I’m not connecting the dots of your argument into any coherent whole.

    (*SHRUG*)

    BILL

  12. You’re an idiot, Barker. I can see you haven’t a clue as to how diabetes works as evidenced from your kooky “diagnosis” that a poorly managed diabetic is trying to commit “apparent suicide.”
    In your little world, people who don’t respond well to medication and/or suffer from complications of other conditions are out just to get your “dime.” Talk about self-absorbed and delusional.

  13. Bint Will,
    I think you made a great point. My friend is from Alabama and her family is full of decent folks. My relatives in Ohio also have strong family values.
    Blacks have a poverty rate of 24.4 percent. That means 75% if Black people are living above poverty. You don’t hear much news coming from those working class or middle class blacks.

    I can’t speak for Umar’s experiences, but I would like to know his interaction with working and middle class black folks. Maybe it has to do with the people we interact with on a daily basis. For example, Palestinian or Yemeni liquor store owners will have only negative stories to tell about Black folks because they work in the hood and deal constantly with the alcoholics and drug addicts that they seel those crack pipes to (even though the call them tobacco pipes). Maybe Middle class black folks are less likely to take cabs. In California, cabs are too expensive. So, if you’re broke you’ll likely catch the bus. So, cab drivers in San francisco may have a different demographic than in St. Louis

  14. Hey “Dr” M… (*SMIRK*)… apparently you missed Umar’s assumption in his original post. Here… since reading comprehension obviously isn’t your strong suit… (*SMILE*)

    UMAR wrote: “Because what I saw in this man was a living example of how f***** our system is and of how f***** our diets are that we can eat ourselves into that condition and, even if this were not the case…”

    Any questions… “doc?” (*SMIRK*) And note… within my post – just as within Umar’s post – there was the acknowledgement that *maybe* the guy’s obesity *wasn’t* his own fault.

    Last… “doc”… in many cases (most? perhaps…) it is the WEIGHT… the obesity… the poor diet with too much sugar and carbs that LEADS to the diabetes – not the other way around. (*SHRUG*)

    Marg – good point.

    BILL

  15. Who are the ‘liberal Globos’ and what is their crime?Are they a new class, with distinct interests? Global economic development is producing new social configurations, involving increasing urbanisation. Not all of us are beneficiaries (Umar’s a Cab driver, his granfather perhaps something less exotic) while others are (Magri’s a decendant of slaves but bemoans Umar’s lack encounter’s with the ‘black’ Middle Class). One’s white and male; the other black and female. But ones an embittered ‘casualty’ of globalisation, the other, despite the ‘Che’ meets ‘Angela Davis’ committments, a beneficiary of the new economic realities. Inherent in change is destruction: old classes, old prejudices are the first to ‘sink’. New ones soon replace them. It does not follow we must analyse the new order as if we miss the ‘old’, for that is not evaluation.

    Hospitals did not function well in Africa before the new economic austerities externally imposed. I’m not a citizen of St Louis but London. The hospitals here have a good record in killing people (they are State-Owned) & the privatization is seen as one possible option or more taxes (not popular). You also know we have doctors who perform al Qaida operations.

  16. “You also know we have doctors who perform al Qaida operations”

    Listen up Jami are you presuming that every Muslim doctor is a Qaida operative? give me a fucking break okay. when will stupid idiots like yourself stop blindfollowing the western media and start using your god given intellect.

    This is the same analogy that the deviant HAMAS organization and other stupid islamists claim that every jew is against muslims, and is a target that must be wiped out from the face of the planet.

  17. “Americans are generous with their money and talents.”

    It amazes me, how people live in a bubble. We are so happy for the American generosity’s as they help the poor around the world. However, Corporate America manipulates and exploit the world and world markets to accumulate its wealth.

    The only reason immigration is a problem is due to big business needs to exploit the illegals, there are several industries heavily dependent upon these illegals such as construction, land scaping, restaurants, janitorial, plantations, most of these jobs are off the book, low wages, no problems in regards to medical insurance or paying taxes. The closing of factory jobs all over the United States and these companies moving to Asia and abroad, in avoidance of paying taxes, a fair wage, and to further exploit more populations world-wide.

    So spare me Tammy, if I am not moved by nation’s generosity.

    As far as Umar’s eventful night, which seem to paint African-Americans in a bad light. I don’t knock you, call it like you see it.

  18. Jami,
    “Magri’s a decendant of slaves but bemoans Umar’s lack encounter’s with the ‘black’ Middle Class.”
    What?? That borders on the downright insulting.
    And what are you a product of, a second rate British education? Don’t take an attitude as if you are a product of a long line of nobles with a strong sense of noblesse oblige. What class of people did your ancestors come from? And how does that have any bearing on your commentary on social inequality? Your spelling and sentence structure mirrors the lack of sophistication in your economic thought. I assume that you are not an economist or an expert of any sort because of your lack of engagement with the critiques of neo-liberalism. They are far more nuanced than you make them out to be.

    Your attempts at social commentary really fall short. Che meets Angela Davis, yadda yadda. I am sure you were trying to be cheeky, but they really came off as asinine and cliche. You assume that I do not understand my position of privilege as an educated African American woman in the global society. If I was a product of anything, it would be the civil rights movement and policies designed to reverse the years of institutional racism. Because of those social reforms, I am allowed to participate in institutions that African Americans were historically barred from. All of the social groups have contributed to the global economy, some groups just benefit more, while other continue to be excluded. You clearly need to go back and do some homework and study economics and study some American history before making social commentary about race and class in America.

    As far as my political stance on structural adjustment, I am fully aware of the pros and cons of globalization. But show me a place in the developing world where free market economies has benefitted the poor and I’ll go back to the drawing board. I have studied under and attended numerous lectures and talks with some of the top scholars and top policy makers in Africa. I’ve also researched and lectured an undergraduate course on the Oil Shocks and structural adjustment in Africa. One of the things I take pride in my work is being critical and not letting my ideological proclivities interfere with my research.

    There are some very good recommendations in structural adjustment programs. Who can argue with balancing budgets and ending corruption? I am especially in support of policies designed to eliminate nepotism, improve governance, and encourage investment by securing investor’s rights.

    Sure, African hospitals weren’t doing so well in newly independent African countries, and there are some advances, but the public sector in AFrican societies have suffered greatly. We have not seen the economic growth that the free market enthusiasts promised. What we have seen is the decline of local industries and decreased self sufficiency in many developing nations. There is a real human cost to economic policies, a lot of people forget that. People seem to have short term memory loss and forget what happened to Argentina’s economy when it took the neo-liberal recomendations. Similar things are happening in a number of nations.

    However, the enouragement of resource extraction, as opposed to diversification is causing a lot of industries to shut down and some countries economies being reduced to single industry. And if that industry fails in one year, the whole country suffers. I also believe that a government should ensure that people are fed and that the prices of necessities regulated so that people can afford to by them. I think it is hypocritical of Americans to force other countries to open up their economies, while we still subsidize a number of ours (i.e. wheat farmers).

    As far as privitization, my vote is not yet in. I lived through the privatization of the utilities in California several years ago. I paid between $300 and $400 per month in gas and electricity, when before it was only $110. Mind you, California has moderate weather. Lots of folks made a killing in companies like Enron. And we still had numerous blackouts during the winter and summer. We were nostalgic for the times when the utilities were state run. So whenever people talk about privatization, I always have the question about who makes a company accountable especially if they are holding the monopoly?

  19. Put down the bong, Barker, you’ve got enough comprehension impairments already. Trying to explain the pathophysiology of diabetes as if you know what you’re talking about..LoL. Having an Oprah moment are you?
    Seriously, does it not occur to dullards like yourselves that poorly managed patients looking for an “apparent suicide” wouldn’t go to the hospital? BTW idiot, you can be diabetic and skinny. Its called DM type 1. Look it up when you’re not giggling to yourself like a ditzy teenage girl.
    Run along, I think O’Rielly’s on.

  20. (*GRIN*) Taping O’Reilly at 11:00 p.m. Will check it out tomorrow. (*SMILE*)

    So… as I was saying to… UMAR…

    Umar – any comments? The thread has taken a few interesting twists. Frankly, I’m still not sure what your point was with regard to your original posting.

    BILL

  21. “Inherent in change is destruction: old classes, old prejudices are the first to ’sink’. New ones soon replace them. It does not follow we must analyse the new order as if we miss the ‘old’, for that is not evaluation.”

    The more things change the more they stay the same.

    However, what never changes in this so-called climate of new economic realities is that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Now when the rich are over 95% white and the poor are pre-domintantly minority, then all the more the old social structure and prejudices becomes re-enforced and by pointing to exceptions to the rule in the case of Umar and Margi, in itself proves nothing, as these exception also existed in the old social structure as well.

    The whole debate on “ state-run vs. privatization” centers on contrasting and comparing one to the other. When one replaces the other the loser, which is generally the masses, one can’t help looking at, what once was with fondness.

    You speak as if these new social orders are something that has grown in a grass root, organic-type manner rather than the pre-meditated, well-coordinated, strategy of the power structures in the old social order to re-assert and maintain their dominance in the new social order. A case in point, most of the companies that benefit from privatizations, actually hire former senators, representatives, cabinets members to lobby their old friends at the Congress. With Dick Cheney and Halliburton being the damn poster child for this. Halliburton has won most of the no-bid contracts in Iraq and the assessments of their effectivness or lack thereof has been scandalous. Nonetheless, they have made tons of money. The fact that prior to the current Iraq war, Dick Cheney met with numerous companies in the energy sector, in itself shows the coordination and complicity of the filty rich getting more filthy rich, at the expanse of the masses. Have you seen the record profits in the Oils Sector ? At the same time gas prices have stayed relatively high ? So who wins and who loses ? As I said the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

    Jami your talk as grandiose as it was, was much ado about nothing.

  22. Regarding the portrayal of people I see it is just that. I see what I see and I cannot invent some Cliff Huxtable in my cab but I get plenty of working black people in my cab every day ( mostly women going to and from work) and I probably know more middle-class black people than most of my readers but since I am not Oprah I am not on a mission to not hurt anyones feelings or make anyone feel good and I am not thinking about those things when I am writing and the fact of the matter is I see much worse than what I write about and I , for example, chose not to write about the black street-hooker last night who offered to suck my d*** for a 5 block ride or the family of professional black men I had breakfest with because I did not feel like writing about either. There is an interesting class-dynamic to this though we got a lot of middle-class to wealthy white people in cabs going to and form the airport and going to and from clubs and bars because they don’t like to drink and drive and if you go outside of the upscale clubs here there are a lot of cabs always. When you go outside a black club you wont see any cabs and very few people take cabs to and from black clubs but this is not a matter of economic rather of choice and I recently had a conversation with another cabbie, an African-American former NYC school teacher, and we agreed that black middle-class people were much less likely to catch cabs than whites due to cultural reasons.

    Bill,

    I am not making an argument I’m just talking maybe the dots do not connect.

    Jami,

    globos are urban liberals living non-traditional lifestyles who often have a hostility towards the religious and the working-classes and have no connection to land or roots and their places of worship are the coffee shops, clubs and and eatiries and they are often closer to their circle of friends than they are to their families. They are a distinct social class.

  23. Hey Umar

    This is seriously off topic but since I have you:

    I remember in a previous post, you stating you liked to hear Imam Siraj Wahhaj’s khutbah at Masjid At Taqwa.

    I happy to report that Masjid At-Taqwa has been seriously renovated and inside looks about 80% better than the former, albeit it not the new million dollar building, built from the ground up, being promised for years but it is much better. At the moment, marble is being put up outside the masjid. Even better than that Security which tended to be very hard (jail-house I think you put it and I have to concur) on the brothers, have been told not to tell people to move up all together during Ju’muah and its been tone down a lot.

    Secondly, if you do have an opportunity to interview Imam Zaid Shakir, can you please bring up the point that, although I heard him and Sheikh Hamza Yusuf state that they’re trying to add balance to their discourse and are now kindler and gentler, their discourse balance has appears to be ascribing more and more blame on the muslims and looking the other way in regards to the west. I’m not saying this a Salafi finding fault with everyone, but a person, who has deep admiration for the Imam.

  24. Umar,
    I’m not criticizing your blog entries. You write about life as you see it. My point is that your perspective is just that, a perspective. Some of us have other perspectives. I pointed to those statistics to suggest that not all black folks aren’t living in destitute poverty and miserable conditions. Some of your reader’s perspectives on Black people is more shaped by negative media coverage and articles discussing issues in the black community they read on the internet. I’m just pointing out that not all of us are f*cked up or bougie sell outs. No one’s claiming to be a Huxtable over here. I’m not saying that moving out the hood spells success. But I know positive stories about hard working people and successful families aren’t as exciting as stories about crack ho’s and drive by’s.

  25. Umar, thanks for the definition. I’m not sure if a mediterranean life-style constitutes a distinct ‘social class’. Your description, however, was helpful.
    I grew up in a London where caffees were for builders and where bacon, eggs and greasy chips plus the smell of tobacco pervaded. Women did not entere them lightly. Prosperity & the changing nature of the British Social Structure under Margret Thatcher (through Milton Friedman economics) brought radical reforms, including in the eating habits of most people. Free movement of Labour & Capital under the European Union also allowed immigrants to enter, bringing with them the life style of the Med. Algerians have opened coffee-shops in certain parts of the city. They have brought a bit of ‘France’ to the poorer districts, charging less for baguettes & expressoes than the Italians. Prices have have fallen: more & more people eat out & socialise in coffe-shops. Women & West Indian women enjoy this affordable Public Space. Translated here, your definition needs a bit more refining. Many are hostile to religion (esp ‘women’) while the old London ‘working class’ are fathers & mothers of the ppl you term ‘Globos’.
    Margri:
    No offense ‘sis’ was inteded & yes the cliches in my writting are just ‘that’. I know a bit about economics (Adam Smith is from here) but your circles are more impressive. I try to ‘spell’ right most of the time (but I’m not entirely illiterate). I did not have a ‘second-rate ‘ education. I had a ‘third-rate ‘ one. But it does depend on what we mean by ‘education’.

  26. AI,

    I was at Masjid at-Taqwa a couple of months ago.

    Jami,

    The parents of the globs dropped the ball- maybe after being hit once too much in the head by Thatcher

    Margari,

    I get your point but what I am saying is that I am not a PR firm and if I am not worried about making myself look bad at times I relaly dont care about making other people look bad and what I am motivated to write about differs day to day and I guess I have the taste for the grimey.

  27. Jami,
    You just came off as making snide comments about my racial background and Umar’s class background just for the sake of making them.

    Try reading a bit of Wallerstein’s World Systems Theory. Or if you read more about the Atlantic slave system, you will see how the Atlantic slave trade system was integral to building up economies. The trade in slaves (which allowed cheap European goods to penetrate African markets), sugar (produced by slaves), and rum(produced by slaves and shipped back to Europe) helped build the capital that powered the industrial revolution. Yet the people who worked did not benefit from their labor. So who is the beneficiary of whom?

    I came out of a second rate public school education, but the state of California has one of the best community college systems and there are a number of private and prestigious public universities that allow a limited number of community college students to transfer. I know of a few success stories, but they are exceptions that these institutions use to legitimate their self reproducing system. Pierre Bourdieu has an excellent book on how education reinforces social inequality.

    Since I was a non-traditional student who went back in my late 20s, I know a good deal about self study. You can step up your economic knowledge by heading to the library reading more on economics. Adam Smith is not the final word. I’d suggest even reading Marx’s capital because so many scholars borrow his ideas or are arguing with him. Here’s some more works, if you haven’t read them already:
    Mandel, Ernest. (1968). Marxist Economic Theory (2 vols.). New York: Monthly Review Press.
    Barber, Benjamin. Jihad vs. McWorld. New York: Times Books, 1995.
    Stiglitz, Joseph E. (2002). Globalization and Its discontents. New York: W. W. Norton.

  28. Magri, there was no intention to be ‘snide’. But don’t you think a good education teaches us not to be patronising? I’m not unaware of the ‘slave trade’ since some of my ancestors were on the ships & the plantations that contributed indirectly to Western Europe’s success (though Eric Williams thesis is now disputable).

    It is also true that the ‘affirmative action’ is policies of the civil rights area is open to interpretation. It beginnings also is something not foreign to me (the Civil Rights Act 1964 & some of the Supreme Courts seminal judgements can be read in the law schools and history departments of the Uk). Some of us belong to complex diasporas & have relatives who participated in those struggles and I’m aware that Adam Smith is not the only economist. We miss understand each other. Marx is buried around the corner from me and I’m suprised that your shopping list of titles would have Das Capital on it. I read it as a teenager (and my definition of a ‘third-rate’ education obviously means something else in America)

  29. Jami “But don’t you think a good education teaches us not to be patronising?”

    Far from it. Some of the most patronising people I have met have been very well educated.

  30. Since you were book dropping Adam Smith, an author I read in highschool, I gave you a list of books that complicate your simplistic argument. I thought you could do well to read a bit of Wallerstein and get a better understanding of World Systems theory. I added in some foundational books so you weren’t just reading in a void.

    I find it funny that you try to act like Marx is for elementary students. I am sure that you high school does not teach teenagers the same level of critical engagement as graduate work. For that reason, it is still on the syllabi of methods and theories courses in some of the top economic programs in the world. In fact, many scholars make their students do a close reading of Marx, and there are still schools of thought drawing on neo-Marxist theory (The Frankfurt school). I’m not an economist, but when I teach my students a topic I teach them what is generally understood in the field. It develop my teaching tools not out of political bias, but to help students understand complicated human conditions. Call it patronising if you want, I saw you little reflection as an opportunity to educate.

    I think you have to be comatose to not be aware of the slave trade. And just because some of your ancestors are in the African Diaspora does not mean that you haven’t bought into some misconceptions. Yes, certain aspects of the Atlantic trade system are debatable. But who benefitted from the profits is indisputable.
    There are a number of other points you made that would be worth addressing if I had time. But I have to go and prepare for my trip.

  31. Magri, I thank you for your concern for my education in economics (we may excuse the fact that you are not a specialist). I noted too on your blog you were giving advice on Fusha Arabic to a brother (even though you were in Morocco studying the language) & informed him incorrectly
    that learning Moroccan Arabic (which no one understands in Sharq) was ‘sensible’. Islam forbids me to abuse you. I can not accept you as a ‘Teacher”.
    A colleague of mine who is Indian has much respect for Umar’s perception. Since she is women & sharp I asked what she makes of your ‘learned contributions’. She noted simply one thing: you sound like a ‘fake’. I tried to defend you as a ‘Muslim’ should but, after seeing your photographic posing on your blog, & your ceaseless references to pedantic sources (most of whom are non-muslims) I could not do so, at least satisfiactory. You have the image & tone of a’globo’ & I’m suprised Umar has refused to highlight that… Inshallah your journey is safe & you learn Arabic & return with haya & sabr.

  32. Jami,
    You clearly did not read clearly. The brother was interested in going to Morocco. He wanted to know if he could get by with Fushah, or if he should take Moroccan Arabic classes to get by. I’ll post the quotes for readers of interest. This is especially important since your sloppy writing includes false accusations.
    He asked this:
    “I’m currently studying Modern Standard Arabic, from your experience would that be of any help to me in Morocco, or I should take a course on Moroccan Arabic as well ?”

    I said this:
    “You should take Moroccan Arabic because it is so different from Fushah. Fushah will help, but there will be times you won’t have a clue as to what is going on. Only educated people know Fushah, but there are likely to be educated elites who only speak Moroccan Arabic and French”

    You don’t have to accept me as a teacher. If you were my student, I’d take extra time to help you develop your writing and critical thinking skills. But it is highly unlikely that you would apply to and be accepted into the colleges that I teach at. Calling me a fake and your other name calling tactics really displays your maturity and lack of sophistication. I’m not patronising you, I’m calling it as I see it. At this point, this discussion is a waste of my time. Peace and to me my way and you, yours.

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