Should I be embarrassed to admit that Luda has consistently been my favorite hiphop artist?
I think Freddie Mercury, born Farrokh Bulsara, is one of the greatest South Asians ever to have lived. I am only being a little facetious when I say that. I rank him up there with the anarchist revolutionary Shaheed Bhagat Singh and Lal Ded, the female poet hailing from 14th century Kashmir. I’m even thinking about getting a tattoo with his face (I have Sarahtopz and jubayr to thank for that)…his music, his life, his message all speak to me. Given all I’ve written about queerness and gender on this blog, you can how this video touched me when I saw it for the first time today, even though I’ve known the song very well and been inspired by it for years.
I am undergoing a study on Black liberation this year. Im taking time off from other political work I could be doing in order to, in part, do this study because I have felt that lacking this has been a huge gap in my own intellectual development in the last few years. I think it’s important because it shapes so much of race and white supremacy in the United States and because it is one of the richest movement experiences in the US, from which so many other movements sprang. I hope that later down the road this study will help me flesh out my very underdeveloped ideas about being racialized as Muslim in the US, whether “Muslim” can even be a racial category or not, and the class composition of South Asians and Arabs in the US.
However, though I have a list of books that I want to get to eventually, there is no rhyme or reason to my study. I was drawn to Manning Marable’s biography of Malcolm X for no apparent reason, apart from all the hype and reaction surrounding its release a few months back. I think I was drawn to the book because of how formative the Autobiography “as told to” Alex Haley was on me at a very young age. I watched Spike Lee’s movie when it came out. I will date myself and admit that I was only 8 years old. My parents took me, perhaps along with my older sister, to watch the movie with another South Asian Muslim family. (I have written about the kind of place I grew up in earlier posts. The racial character of the town will become clear when I say that though I believe it was only shortly after the movie had been released, on a Sunday afternoon we were literally the only people in the movie theater.)
At the age of ten I borrowed a copy that my 16 year old sister had borrowed from a friend. I sneaked it from her room and read it over and over again. At that age I was not very careful with other peoples’ books and by the time my sister got it back, I had managed to get gum on the inside cover, among other damage. She had to buy another copy for her friend and presto! Though not done intentionally, I had my very own copy of the Autobiography of Malcolm X.