Manning Marable’s Malcolm: The revolutionary as human

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.

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Mama, Mama, Mama


I know I am late to the game with this one, its been all over the interwebs for a couple of months, but I woke up with it in my head this morning and I cant get it out.

My two cents is that its not a glorification of violence against rapists. You see the pain on Rihanna’s face when she shoots him. Its clearly the pain of the sexual assault, but also that its come to this. Her community felt so safe in the daytime, but after the assault, she is alone and isolated. Who could she turn to? She says, “I took his heart…he could have been someone’s son.” The full enormity of what she’s done, what it means for her own humanity, is very clear to her.

At the same time, its got to be looked at in the context of real life…Rihanna was very publicly beaten up by her ex, Chris Brown, and they have had a very public rekindling of contact. I dont think its my business to speculate on whats going on with them, but a lot of people do, and with this song I think Rihanna the actual artist, not just the character in the song, can reclaim some of her own personal strength and remind everyone that she’s not a tool.

Lastly, in terms of musicality, I have liked some other Rihanna songs but until this one her voice has always kind of bothered me. In this song, she lets her accent shine through and her singing voice sounds so much richer and so much more beautiful.  (Maybe its not really her accent or its an exaggeration, I dont know, but its sounds natural.) Given that this song is sung so soulfully, I think it could become a classic and not be banished to the dusty halls of top 40 hits.

Reflections on Family and Class, Pt. 1

I recently spent a few weeks with family. This family time has given me the motivation to write some reflections on my experiences of class growing up. To me, the most empowering thing initially about revolutionary politics was the revelation that I wasn’t forever relegated to identifying/being identified as middle class. In the general liberal and progressive left, class is usually understood as income, and not a social relationship between workers and management, or between a housewife and the worker-husband. This emphasis on income and not social relationships means you usually have “poor” people or middle class people, but not working class people.

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Slutwalk Houston is today!!!

Of course, I am aware of the debates associated with it. An interesting aspect of the Houston Slutwalk is that they want to take time to talk about the problems associated with this new phenomenon. Hopefully that will be well facilitated.

Many of the critiques could be valid. Its hard to know without having been to any of them, because its based on people claiming certain things about race composition. Then a lot of it is focused on the rhetoric. I am not setting aside those critiques, but I also know, its damn easy to be a hater. Its much harder to build something. And I am freaking excited about the Slutwalks because it represents the first broad feminist phenomenon to take place in my life. Something new could arise out of it, something that people could work to make better, to address the problems people have with it.

Anyways, in honor of this day, here are a couple articles I found that focus on issues of sexuality in the new season of True Blood.

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New Credit Card Regulations Hurt Women

Thanks to jubayr for the idea for the post and talking it out with me. xo.

So, I sometimes visit this website for young women that tells you how to deal with your money. I’ve come to the conclusion in the last year or so that being a revolutionary doesnt mean that you shouldnt plan for retirement. Of course, if we’re successful, I will never see the money I put into a (hypothetical) 401K, but if we’re successful, I won’t care. Then again, there are other possible futures out there ranging from fascism to state capitalist counterrevolution, but I try not to think about those too much when I’m dreaming of the future.

Anyhow, this website usually isn’t very political, although they sometimes have good essays explaining how finance capital works or the state of the economy, albeit from the perspective of finance capital, and not production. However, they’ve started a series that does take on some more “controversial” issues, and today’s article outlines the impacts of the Credit CARD Act on stay-at-home moms.

Basically, the new act doesnt allow you to get credit if you dont have your own, individual income. It seems that you used to be able to apply yourself for a credit card based on household income. The rationale for the new regulations is to keep unemployed college kids from running up credit card debt, but now stay-at-home parents, or caregivers of any kind, can’t apply for their own credit. The article does a good job of outlining how this disproportionately impacts women, how for women in abusive relationships financial insecurity is a big reason women stay in the relationship, and how housewives do work that is just as valuable as wage-earners, but it is simply unwaged. That last part is actually a pretty shocking thing to see on a mainstream website. I’m very impressed.

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Makhdoom Mondays: Telangan

So, I’m going to try to post a Makhdoom translation every Monday. Maybe committing publicly will hold me to it!

pHirne waalee kHet kee menDoN peh bal kHaatee hoo’ee  
nazam o sheereeN qehqehoN ke pHool barsaatee hoo’ee 
kanganoN se kHelte auroN se sharmaatee hoo’ee 
 ajnabee ko dekH kar khaamoosh mat ho, gaa’e jaa 
 haN tilangan gaa’e jaa, baankee tilangan gaa’e jaa 

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The Mother by Gwendolyn Brooks

Abortions will not let you forget.
You remember the children you got that you did not get,
The damp small pulps with a little or with no hair,
The singers and workers that never handled the air.
You will never neglect or beat
Them, or silence or buy with a sweet.
You will never wind up the sucking-thumb
Or scuttle off ghosts that come.
You will never leave them, controlling your luscious sigh,
Return for a snack of them, with gobbling mother-eye.
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