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The Inextricable Anti-blackness of the American Muslim Community

Logo for CAIR

The mainstream American Muslim community is inextricably anti-black. This anti-blackness of the American Muslim goes beyond the casual references to Black people as abeed(slaves) among Arabs. It goes beyond Asian and Arab Muslim not wanting to pray near Black people. It goes beyond the lack of Black Muslim representation on speaking panels at major Islamic conferences.

The entire mainstream American Muslim community is actively upholding political positions and practices that actively perpetuates the oppression of Black people. By mainstream American Muslim establishment I am specifically referring to the agglomeration of institutions that have significant influence in determining Islamic discourse in America. This includes but is not limited to CAIR, ICNA, Zaytuna Institute and ISNA.

CAIR Honors White Politician Who Supported Apartheid South Africa. 

On August, 25th, the Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR ) which claims to be “largest Muslim advocacy and civil rights organization” published a statement in honor of  John McCain.

CAIR’s national executive director Nihad Awad asserted “The American Muslim community joins all Americans in mourning the death of Sen. McCain, a man of principle who served our nation with honor and dignity for so many decades.”

Former senator John McCain voted on six different occasions against placing sanctions on Apartheid, South Africa.  McCain actively supported U.S firms who were doing  business with the racist apartheid regime of South Africa. Simply put, McCain was a white oppressor who deserves no praise or honors from Muslims. CAIR engages in the lauding of this white oppressor as a “man of principle” because their focus is not in aligning with black people in the struggle against white supremacy but they seek to make Muslims more palatable to the white dominant class.

Did Bilal Ibn Rabah mourn over the death of  Umayyah ibn Khalaf and eulogize his former slave master as a “man of principle”?

The Leader of the First Accredited Muslim College Disrespects the Black Struggle 

The mainstream American Muslim establishment actively appoints for leaders in the Muslim community white racists like Hamza Yusuf who has disrespected the struggle of Black Americans on numerous occasions.  This purported “Islamic Scholar” asserted the true problem facing Black Americans is not institutional racism but the break down of the Black family. Consequently, in response to Black people being brutalized by police officers Hamza Yusuf merely asserted that not all police officers are racist.  Hamza Yusuf who actively obfuscates the oppression of Black people leads Zaytuna Institute which is the first accredited American Muslim college. 

 The anti-Black political stances of ICNA 

In a lecture titled A Proud, Patriotic Sharia Practicing Muslim given at an ICNA conference, prominent Muslim leader Yasir Qadhi asserted that “It is obligatory for Muslims to be patriotic in whatever land they live in.”  The question is: how does this political stance account for Muslims who are the descendants of enslaved Africans who were forcibly brought to America against their will?   Yasir Qadhi calling Muslims to be “proud American patriots” stands in sharp contrast to Black Muslim revolutionary Safiya Bukhari and Sekou Odinga who believed in the creation of the Republic of New Africa.

Indeed, it stands in sharp contradiction to Malcolm X who told Black people “You are not an American. You are a victim of America.” 

The fundamental reality is that Black people are not nor have they ever been part of mainstream American society. In the Political Economy of the Black Ghetto by political scientist William K. Tab, the author explains that the Black ghettos have a relationship with America that is similar to   a colonial power to its colony. Since Black people are not part of mainstream American society, Black people can never truly be part of the “American Muslim establishment.” Moreover, Black people have no business being patriotic towards a country that has oppressed them for centuries.

The American Muslim Establishment: An Affront to the Legacy of Malcolm X

The entire mainstream American Muslim establishment is an absolute affront to everything that Malcolm X stood for. The masjids and institutions of the mainstream American Muslim establishment  are more concerned about getting white folks to like Muslims than they are continuing about Malcolm X’s focus of an Islamic commitment to uplifting disenfranchised Black communities.

Our focus as  Muslims should not be seeking to make Islam more palatable to white oppressors. It should be to focus on Islamic outreach and liberation of oppressed Black communities. I invite all Muslims to support these initiatives focused on Islamic liberation  of oppressed Black communities instead of seeking to appease the white ruling class.

 

Apartheid in Milwaukee: The Third World Inside America (The Hood Series)

 

Black Life in Milwaukee: The Third World Inside of America 

Surrounded in scenery of dilapidated houses, food and liquor stores;  crumbling infrastructure vandalized by RIP signs that pay tribute to the young victims of fratricidal gang warfare, Milwaukee rapper Gwapo Chapo from the neighborhood of Atkinson Ave spits  that his “Trynna Make it Out The Hood.”Chap’s lyrics represents a plea to transcend a life in wretched social conditions surrounded by economic deprivation, unemployment, poverty, gun violence, drug trafficking, high levels of infant mortality, food deserts, substandard education systems, dilapidated unaffordable housing, police brutality and continued forays with the criminal (in)justice system. To fully understand these wretched conditions that have imposed on black communities requires an examination of history which according to Malcolm X “is best qualified to reward our research.

A Historical Analysis of the Creation of Milwaukee’s Hoods 

In the city of Milwaukee, segregationist city planners placed African-Americans in The North Side  isolated from mainstream White America. In the early 20th century, most African Americans did not migrate to Milwaukee instead venturing to other cities such as Chicago and Detroit. After WWII, Milwaukee began to show a significant increase in its black population. As this happened, redlining and racial covenants only allowed African Americans to purchase homes in the inner city NorthSide “core” that was only limited to a small number of blocks.

As black leaders such as Vel Phillips protested these laws, the city later rioted in August of 1967 forcing a standoff between the black community and its allies and the European immigrant community along with the predominantly white city government. After the assassination of MLK, the Fair Housing Act was passed and racial covenants were declared unconstitutional.

Over the period of the next 50 years, Milwaukee’s black population increased to 40% due to migration from Mississippi and Chicago while a combination of mortgage discrimination, redlining, reverse redlining and white flight has lead the city to become more segregated with a common stereotype in the city “Black people live on the North Side, Latinos on the Southside and White people on the Eastside”. The inner core that black people were once confined to has now expanded in areas in which they were not able to purchase homes in.

Gentrification and Black Annihilation 

For those white people that don’t live in the suburbs of Milwaukee or the outskirts of the city such as West Allis or Greenfield Wisconsin, the main enclave is typically the East Side that is known as the most prosperous part of the city, home to numerous restaurants, tourist attractions, festivals, and art centers.

There is concern the building of the Bucks arena and street car is intended to displace many black communities near Downtown, in order to attract a more wealthier white populace. Riverwest and Harambee , two diverse communities in the Northeast have faced threat of gentrification.

African Americans were and are strategically placed in the region of the city known as “The North Side” 12 of the cities 14 most economically distressed zip codes have at least a population of 50% African Americans with the other two being primarily Hispanic.

Despite the passage of the Fair Housing Act, Milwaukee remains a hyper-segregated city that is reminiscent of a Third World Colony in many areas. Just recently it has been discovered that over 100,000 homes in the city have a problem with lead pipes and soil, primarily in near North Side zipcodes. 

Black Life in the Northside 

The North Side is known for its high levels of economic deprivation, unemployment, poverty, gun violence, drug trafficking, infant mortality, substandard education systems, dilapidated unaffordable housing,  forays with the criminal justice system, police brutality, food deserts, lack of mental health clinics, payday loan stores, and many more. It is not an exaggeration to say that every institution in Milwaukee has failed black people and is not designed for social mobility let alone humanity.

“There’s a difference in Milwaukee and Wisconsin, the state put us up for adoption” – For decades there has been an antagonistic relationship between Milwaukee and the state of Wisconsin. Blacks in Milwaukee were systematically denied from gaining mortgages and home loans to live in suburbs in Wisconsin leaving suburbs such as Waukesha, Wauwatosa and others to be almost exclusively white. Even on a personal note, these areas are often met with much social hostility when black people venture there whether it be through traffic stops, profiling at stores, etc. On a political level the GOP State Legislature at Governor Scott Walker has continued a negative relationship with Milwaukee to appeal to his Republican base. Through the usage of dog whistle politics, tough on crime measures, voting ID laws, disinvestment for public education, union busting, etc Scott Walker under the dominion of the Koch Brothers has worked tirelessly to further an environment that only benefits the elites and bigots of Wisconsin

Drug Trafficking to Prison 

“The illegal drug trade is the common way in the City of Milwaukee’s African American community of providing the basic financial needs of many residents, and its mere presence is creating instability that is directly related to our violent crime statistics.” said Alderman Joe Davis from Milwaukee

After the deindustrialization that occurred in the 1970s and 80s, the jobless rate for African American males in the city rose to over 50%. With the heroin and crack epidemic emerging, along with migrations from Chicago gangs such as the Gangster Disciples, Vice Lords, and Latin Kings to name a few, the drug economy became one of the predominant sources of income in many of Milwaukee’s oppressed neighborhoods. With it of course is the violence that followed.

Today in Milwaukee while open air drug markets are still in abundance another form of drug dealing that has emerged is that of mobile drug dealing in which dealers use cars with tinted windows that are either stolen or rented to make drug deals all over the city. These transactions are made possible through the use of flip phones (trap phones) that are cheap and not easily detectable by the police, that allows the dealer to communicate with his customer. Due to Milwaukee’s proximity to plentiful predominantly white suburbs, the opioid epidemic has become extremely lucrative with heroin now replacing crack cocaine once again.

In the midst of this, Chapo states that his “tired of getting locked up.” For Black people in Milwaukee, constant forays with the criminal (in)justice system is a frequent reality. A study from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee discovered that Wisconsin’s incarceration rates for Black males was double that of America’s  national average.  In particular, 1 of 8 Black men of working age in Milwaukee County has served some time in the state’s correctional facilities at some point in their lives. 

It is no surprise that Milwaukee is hailed as one of the worst cities for Black people in the United States; a city that has profiled and tazed one of its own basketball players. For African Americans and other oppressed populations in Milwaukee such as Puerto Ricans and Mexican Americans, the do for self messages of the Organization For Afro-American Unity, Muslim Mosque Incorporated, Black Liberation Army,  The Nation Of Islam, The Uhuru Movement, and The Black Panther Party must be heeded in the sense that black people will have to fight at all cost against racism and capitalism along with adhering to the philosophies of self determination and political, social and economic control of our communities.

Black people in Milwaukee must begin to develop unity and end the social dysfunction that is awry so that radical strategies can be developed to solve these complex issues. The problems in Milwaukee and other cities across the country will not be solved by just politicians or college educated youth from these communities with reformist poltiics. It will require the entire community from the grandma on the block to community activists to even the street soldiers. The struggle in Milwaukee is more than laws and rights as Americans. It’s a struggle for black people to be recognized as humans and not seeds for exploitation and degradation.

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