By, Khalil Al-Puerto Rikani
This is my first year living in Clarksville, Tennessee. The masjid is not much too different than any other bourgeois immigrant masjid (to use blogger Umar Lee's terminology) in the country. On of the main differences, however, is that this community is less developed than in other parts of the country. For instance, this masjid is in a storefront. It is not a ghetto storefront. Clarksville does not really have any real ghetto as one would find in places like New York, New Jersey, or something. Yes, there are some run down parts of town that are pretty ghetto but it is not a whole big area. A few immigrant Muslims run the masjid. It is one of those compromised situations between professional Arab and Southeast Asians. There are also a few African-American, White, and Latino Muslims at the masjid. The masjid is temporarilly at this location till the perminent masjid is built at the plot of land on the outskirts of town.
I met an interesting brother there that I hope to interview sometime soon, inshAllah. His story is very interesting because he is an American-born Egyptian. Now this may seem so unique or strange. The story does not end there. I figured the brother was born about the late 1950s or early 1960s. That would mean that his parents migrated to the US sometime before the relaxed immigrant laws of 1965 that saw the arrival of many Muslims to the US. What is also suprising is that he grew up at a time when there were not too many Muslims (not to many immigrant Muslims I mean). Another thing that I find suprising is that he grew up in Harlem near the old Polo Grounds. In addition to that, he served 26 in the US Army. He retired at the rank of a Sergeant Major, a high ranking noncomissioned officer's position. He enlisted in the Army in 1979. I asked about what masjid his family prayed at and he say the one at 79th Street. There were no other masjids in his area.
On the way home, I was highly disturbed by what my wife told me. I have to keep hearing this nonsense from my wife about Latino men. She told me about how some sister was telling her about how there was a Latina sister in the community before who said that she would never marry a Latino man. This seems to be a continuuing theme that my wife keep bringing up. This time was about how Latino men cheat on their wives. The complaints were also about how we supposedly have high tempers and beat our women, or something to that effect. The story goes how this Latina sister is now married to some white guy. My wife reminded my how her two Latina Muslima friends had mentioned similiar things. Both of them too marry only non-Latino men, only differences is that their preference are African-American men.
Why is it that there is such self-hatred amongst Latina Muslimas? My opinion is that they sisters had is rough as a child and as a result they project this negative image upon all Latino men. Yes, Latino men have some issue but don't all men? Why must Latino men be seen as the worst in society from all segments of society. If society does not totally ignore us we are seem are barbarians. Our women are tolerated because it is fashionable to have a Latina around nowadays. Look at all the rap video that have a Latina in it, or just look at Hollywood. There we can speak of a J.Lo. or a Selma Hayek, but why are there no famous Latino men from Hollywood. Oh, yeah maybe there are a lot of Latino men in Hollywood, but they must only be the janitors and kitchen workers.