St. Louis is one of those last few American cities that is a black-white city. The city has a slight black-majority and the white population is something like 47%. Of the top 43 metropolitan areas in America St. Louis ranks 40th in terms of Hispanic population leaving St. Louis a racially polarized city along with similar places such as Baltimore and Cincinnati (two cities with striking similarities to Da Lou).
While St. Louis is still a black-white city it is not as much the case as it was 15 years ago when almost everyone you would meet here was black or white. There is a small but growing Hispanic population; but more so than that there is a large and growing refugee population here. It started with the Bosnians in the early 90’s (St. Louis has the biggest Bosnian population in the nation) but has went on o include Somalis, Iraqis, Afghans, Burmese Muslims, West African Muslims, Kosovar Muslims, and others. The immigrant Muslim population of the city is mostly refugee and that is why the community in St. Louis is undeveloped and lacking, most of the community is recent and poor. The other Muslims in the city are either at African-American masajid on the North Side far from refugees, at the Salafi Masjid, or a part of the affluent immigrant (mostly Desi) Muslim population in the suburbs.
A recent article in the New York Times highlights the story of Vedad Ibisevic. Ibisevic is a professional soccer player in the German Bundesliga. Like tens of thousands of other Bosnian Muslim refugees from the war that broke apart the former Yugoslavia Ibisevic stayed in Germany for a brief time before coming to live in South St. Louis. Along with smoke houses, coffee shops and mosques Bosnians brought a rebirth of soccer to Roosevelt High School. The soccer program had been dead at Roosevelt (which by the time the Bosnians got there this once white working-class school was overwhelmingly African-American and in America, percentage-wise, blacks are less interested in soccer than any other group). The piece outlines how Ibisevic made his way from Roosevelt to playing professional soccer in Germany and how he is a hero of sorts to the local Bosnian population here.
It is ironic that not too long after I read that article I got in my cab and picked up a family of one woman and three children heading to Children’s Hospital. They lived in a South Side apartment building I knew to be home to refugees and I mistakenly thought they were Vietnamese because they had an Asian look. After the family got in my cab one little boy, who I guess was about 5, said “we are Muslim” just out of the blue. I smiled and said I am Muslim to and gave them the greeting “Assalaum alaikum” and all four of them returned it. It turns out I was wrong they were not from Vietnam, rather they were a family from Burma. We went on to have a brief conversation and the boy told me he had two names, a Burmese name and a Muslim name. When I tried to get their feelings on the junta that rules Burma and their thoughts on the plight of Muslims there I could not make a connection. I do not know if it was a language issue or an issue of them just not wanting to talk about politics.
While the obsession with Mumbai continues there is some madness going on right here in America. Friday was a day dedicated to the national obsession with over-consumption and spoiling young children rotten. These are two of the things that have led to the financial meltdown in America which has been fueled by people taking on too much debt and having too much of a lust for dunya while trying to give their children too much materially. Yesterday, a Wal-Mart employee was trampled to death as a herd of nit-wit shoppers who had camped outside the store overnight ran over the employee in a stampede. At another store two men were killed in a shootout (and I don’t know if they were shooting over the Elmo Dolls on sale or the GPS systems).
Back to Mumbai…it appears that the war with Pakistan machine is already underway in the media and the finger is being pointed to the group I spoke of yesterday, Lashkar-e-Taiba. Not that I am condemning an act I had nothing to do with or feel the need to; but I feel it is unfortunate that the Chabad Center in Mumbai was targeted as it is a place of worship and those killed such as the emissary from Brooklyn and his wife clearly were on a religious mission.
Slaughter. For all of the brothers out there be men and go to the farm or designated location and slaughter yourselves. Do not phone it in or do some kind of internet deal where you do not have to slaughter on Eid. This is a beautiful tradition of Islam and we should preserve it. If you have sons or boys in the house, you should take them to initiate them into this tradition as you cut the animal’s throat, dress the animal down, distribute the meat and bring some home to cook. I am not sure what Green Muslim males do on Eid, maybe cut open coffee beans for slaughter or something, but this is a Sunnah that is often ignored by Muslim men so I encourage all to participate.
Since I am not going to be able to make it to MANA here is some advice for all of those who will be attending.
- Sisters, that brother from Philly is not really interested in taking you to Bilalian Gardens to teach you the finer points of the Sunnah or to correct your aqeedah.
- Brothers, if that sister from Germantown lifts up her niqaab, looks at you and says “brother, all I need you to do is come see me once a week and I’m straight” she is not under the false impression that you are an auto mechanic.
- Brothers, when lowering your gaze as the Brooklyn sisters walk by lower your gaze all the way, TO The FLOOR, do not let your eyeballs stop at any point in between her head and the ground when viewing from the back.
- The brother offering you a “business opportunity” is really trying to crawl from under the debt he incurred investing in a pyramid scheme.
- If you see some brothers talking like they are still Black Nationalists from the 70’s ( but may not even be black); don’t worry you have not went back in time, that is just some of the Midwestern delegation talking who are a little behind the times.
- Ten packs of incense bought in the bazaar does not suffice for a dowry. Nor does teaching a sister your jacked-up tajweed version of any number of short surahs.
- A retreat to Camden, NJ is not a romantic post-MANA honeymoon.
- Marrying a sister you met at a lecture by Imam Siraj on the Sunnah when you already have two wives and no job does not qualify as “reviving the Sunnah”.
- Sisters, marrying the brother you met at the “prisoner reintegration” session and letting him come in your house and live rent free, beat your kids, and eat all of your groceries, is not doing your part to help out with the effort.
- Also, FYI, if you have to fly back, or for that matter even get on the train or bus, I would advice you not to rock one of those ” Jihaad is My Way” t-shirts they were selling last year in the bazaar.
How country is St. Louis? And when I say country I don’t mean in a good way like these semi-illiterate numbskulls like Nelly and the morons on local hip-hop radio who have made being “country “cool. Well, first I have to define country for a lot of my readers. It has nothing to do with country music or being from a rural area; it has to do with the way a lot of people in STL talk and the provincial nature of a lot of St. Louisan’s. People in STL used to get mad when people called them country; but then when Nelly came out they started wearing it as a badge of honor. Meaning the more ignorant you talked and the less you knew about the world the more real you were.
When I say country I mean an ignorant know-nothing Mf’er from St. Louis who no matter how educated is still a hick. Two recent examples of encounters with such country fools in St. Louis?
The other day I walk into Panera bread to meet someone for a meeting. Now, normally I do not go to Panera because I don’t drink coffee and the food is not filling enough for me, but it is a good place to meet someone for a private meeting.
This Panera is located in the pedestrian area known as the Delmar Loop that is home to such places as the famous Vintage Vinyl, Blueberry Hill of Chuck Berry fame, Subterranean Books, the Tivoli Theater (an arthouse theater) and a variety of ethnic restaurants ranging from Ethiopian to Thai. The Loop is next to Washington University, a prestigious university that has one of the best medical schools in the country, and is surrounded by diverse neighborhoods (to the north African-American and Chinese, to the South rich white globos, to the east a black ghetto and a gentrified area, and to the West an Orthodox Jewish enclave and a white, mostly Jewish, middle-class).
You would think with all of this diversity that a guy working at this Panera location would not be so country or at least would try and hide his staggering level of ignorance. Well, that was not the case. As I walked to the counter alongside a Muslim brother and filmmaker to place my order for a bagel and soda the guy behind the counter said ” Merry Christmas Santa, I see it is coming early” and pointed to my beard. I said “haha man you think you funny or something?” and got my stuff.
Insha’Allah I will finish the Sharia post when I have time. I have been working so many hours lately I am fatigued and do not have he mental energy when I am off work to tackle such a serious issue.
Business has been slow so I have to work longer hours and besides, with the pregnancy of my wife, my expenses are going up. Maybe these days I am looking a little more intense than I have at other times in my life. A high school teacher once told me that I was one of those students who teachers would never forget because of the intensity of my eyes (whatever that means).
Maybe it was this intense look to lead an elderly black female passenger leaving her home to give me a dirty look before she got into the cab. Before she got in she said “yea I know you…take your hat off…are you a black boy?”
Once she got in she went on a tirade “you are full of evil and you are trying to fool people but you cannot fool me. You have done terrible things and are going to do more terrible things in a few days.” A few moments later she took both of her arms ad put them around my neck and put them on my chest and told me “I don’t want you I am gonna take the devil out of you” and at this point I had been driving about 20 hours with only short breaks for the essentials and I pulled over and told her she had to get out.
That was on Friday and despite having that deranged older lady wanting to perform an exorcism on me, the day ended up pretty good. Things went downhill on Saturday as I just could not catch a decent trip until the end of the night, and by that time I didn’t want it because by that time I was so tired I didn’t know if I was going to be able to stay awake to make it home.
Tariq Nelson has talked a lot about the auto bailout recently and I will attempt to approach it from a different angle Insha’Allah.
President-elect Barack Obama brought a coalition of diverse groups of people together to win the election. It will be impossible to get all of those groups to come together on every issue during his presidency; but you would think they would wait to disagree until at least Obama has been sworn into office.
However, in its unique way, the crisis in the American auto industry and the requested bailout by Washington has already caused a rift in that coalition that brought Obama to office and exposed major fault-lines on the Democratic Party.
Three of the major groups that brought Obama in are educated white yuppies, union-members (who are of all races), and minorities. Listening to NPR and watching cable news cover this topic it is easy to see this rift although it has not been discussed openly in the media to any degree.
Quite simply, for the most part, yuppies hate American cars. Look at parked cars in Manhattan, gentrified sections of Brooklyn, Adams Morgan in DC, Kenmore Square in Boston, Hyde Park in Chicago, the Central West End in St. Louis, Austin, Madison, Boulder, Berkeley, and any other such place and tell me how many American cars you see on the street? Driving an American car is a fashion no-no in these places that fancy themselves as being hip and creative; but in reality are very conformist and monolithic.
We all know that there was a time between the 1970’s and the early 1990’s that Detroit stopped putting out quality cars; but most auto experts, not just some globos gargling latte who don’t even know how to change a flat tire or check their own oil, will tell you that Detroit has closed the gap and for the most part American cars are on par with Asian competitors. (See this article by Mark Phelan of the Detroit Free-Press).
These are tough times for us all as we are going through this recession. Tough times can become unbearable times for people whose economic woes are compounded by personal problems in their love or family lives and or drug-alcohol addiction.
The tales are legendary of Wall Street types jumping off buildings in Manhattan during the Great Depression and of others facing hard times, such as farmers in India, turning to suicide en masse.
Turning to my life and the present I came to work on Friday night and got a most unpleasant surprise. A fellow driver (a female, to be exact) had hung herself in the basement of her apartment building in the Shaw Neighborhood.
Her death was the talk among all of the drivers. Everyone wanted to know why she took that fatal step. Everyone goes through tough times; but very few actually decide to give up on life. There has to be something very wrong with the person’s spiritual state of being to take a decision to terminate the life that has been given to you by your Creator. Absent a belief in God, suicide can become a rational step for many people who believe that right and wrong, and good and evil, are not set in stone and change with time, place and a person’s situation.
Why she did it I may never know. I did not know her well. In addition to being a driver she was a part-time dispatcher and I will miss hearing her classic South St. Louis accent on the radio. Few people even know or talk about their being a South Side accent; but there is. The sound of it is hard to describe; but you will not hear it from white North Siders like myself, African-Americans from Da Lou, people with money here, or the yuppies moving into the city. It is unique and can only be found amongst the old working-class white South Side population (what most would refer to here with the derogatory term of “hoosier”). The accent is dying out with the fading white working-class population of the South Side neighborhoods from which it came and this woman was one reminder of it that I always had.