Sunday, September 30, 2007

Puerto Rico: The Four Storeyed Country

David Carr sheds some light on the question of Puerto Rican identity at the following website:
http://userwww.sfsu.edu/~motopu/fourstoreyedcountry.html .
This is an excellent examination Jose Luis Gonzalez’s argument to Puerto Rico being a four-storeyed country and culture. When Gonzalez came out with his book, he broke down the concept of Puerto Rican culture as being part and partial of a greater Hispanic culture with Spain as the epicenter of that culture. Instead, Gonzalez rightfully described Puerto Rican society and culture as a four-storeyed society with the Caribbean culture being at the backbone of such a culture. We should consider such an analysis when we (especially here in the US) are taught to believe that the Puerto Rican people are some one-dimentional people. Such a view of Puerto Ricans are even advanced by Puerto Rican who like to see Puerto Ricans as some sort of homogenious groups or even some sort of race. It is such ignorant folk who would like to see a "pure" Puerto Rican identity that has no room for Puerto Ricans who are Muslim. Christianity was never indigenious to the island, but was imported from Spain, yet another country that was never fully Christian in the make up of its population (when Columbus sailed from Grenada in 1492 there were lots of Muslim and Jews living in Spain).
Khalil Al-Puerto Rikani
Puerto Rico: The Four Storeyed Country
By, David Carr

To the reader who may have assumed that the issue of Puerto Rican independence involves a monolithic resistance to American Imperialism, Jose Luis Gonzalez’s book Puerto Rico: The Four-Storeyed Country offers a complex look at the many factions involved in the struggle and their different motivations. At the heart of the matter lies the concept of Puerto Rican national identity, how it has been defined, and by whom. Gonzalez charts out the “four storeys” of Puerto Rican identity in an analogy to a house with four floors. Because he determines that the base is African, Taino, and Mestizo, he believes he has defined the first real Puerto Ricans and the ones responsible for an authentic Puerto Rican identity. Of course, he does not discount Spanish influence, nor does he insist that it was only a negative or reactionary force, but he does point out that it was a foreign presence which never contributed to the Puerto Rican identity to the extent that Afro-Mestizo culture, which had developed on the island, did. The line he draws between these first two storeys (defined below) does much to explain the different ideologies applied to resisting U.S. imperialism since 1898.
The four storeys are defined as follows. The first Storey encompasses the black slaves who could not leave Puerto Rico and their contact with the Indian and Mestizo (Taino/European mixed) people and the culture they created. The second storey is made up of the Spanish immigrants who were encouraged to Puerto Rico in an effort to “whiten” the population as a part of the Real Cedula de Gracias of 1815. This was in response to the uprising in Haiti and fears of an overt influence blacks on the island. The third and fourth storeys are the professional class and later a managerial class that was introduced in the “Operation Bootstrap” period under Munoz Marin.
Gonzalez’s arguments revolve around ethnicity and class. In the 19th Century, the first storey people were under the rule of the second storey, who were in turn being exploited by Spain itself prior to 1898. The wave of Spaniards in 1815 displaced much of the older Creole plantation class as far as land ownership. This is described as a foreign presence by Gonzalez, and he points out that many of the Spaniards not only kept their Spanish identity but incorporated some of the cultural development of the first storey people, Blacks and Mestizos.
The Puerto Rican identity as seen by this land owning class was of the Jibaro, or white plantation owner, or even whites who owned smaller farms, mainly in the mountainous area of Puerto Rico. The key piece of literature is El Gibaro, published in 1843 by Manuel Alanso. The book virtually ignores the culture of the Africans and Tainos. Gonzalez offers another view from the same era in the writing of Alajandro Tapia y Rivera who was much more concerned with the immorality of slavery, and even women’s rights which was progressive for his time. Gonzalez points out that although Tapia had enjoyed the highest position in the Puerto Rican canon in the 19th Century, he had been replaced by Alanso in the 20th, which Gonzalez believes is due to the unacceptable criticism of elite Puerto Rican culture.
The portrayal of the past is key to the differing groups in Puerto Rico. Gonzalez points out that the “Creole elites” who were the land owners under the Spaniards, had their power diminished by the U.S. invasion. While they may have believed they would gain from the invasion, perhaps even with statehood, they ended up a colonized and diminishing subgroup to the North American capitalist structure. This led them not only to resist the North American imperialism, but to define the Spanish period as a time of unity between all the classes of Puerto Ricans. Gonzalez controversially appoints Pedro Albizu Campos as the figure head for this backward looking group. He quotes Albizu as inaccurately describing the Spanish period as “the old collective happiness” (4). It is true that Albizu was largely interested in transferring wealth to the Puerto Rican owning class and away from imperialists, and was not an anti-capitalist (nor necessarily a pro-capitalist) and this is why Gonzalez uses him to personify the resistance of the elite class. As Gerald Guinness points out in his introduction, this has brought some criticism from those who value Albizu’s tough resistance, which involved being arrested and actual armed combat.
But to Gonzalez, a figure like Eugenio Maria de Hostos, a pro-independence writer, had a more accurate view of the past under Spain which he described as “lived under the sway of barbarity” (4). This points out that the resistance to U.S. imperialism was itself divided between the “culture of the oppressed and the culture of the oppressor,” a concept borrowed loosely from Marx. For Gonzalez, the U.S. imperial presence, while rightfully resisted by both of these groups was also feared by the “oppressor” class as a threat to their power, and partially embraced by the “oppressed” as a tool to resist the old Creole elite class. Labor organizing improved under U.S. occupancy in a way never possible under the Spaniards, who were quicker to criminalize efforts to raise wages or otherwise improve conditions. Gonzalez is careful to point out that this is not an apology for U.S. imperialism, merely an honest assessment of why the motivations of the two resistance groups were different. One was conservative with a goal of retaining power for an old elite, while the other was far more socialist.
As for the question of Puerto Rican identity, Gonzalez shows us that the efforts to define the national identity break down on these class lines, which stem from the ethnic origins of Spanish land owners on the one hand, and Black and Mestizo slaves (later workers) on the other. It has been pointed out by Guinness that this ethnic definition is harder to maintain in present day Puerto Rico (the fact that Albizu was black points out the complexity of arguing the case along ethnic lines), but that the reader may decide for him or herself how much weight to give the argument.. Puerto Rican identity, one could safely say, is a duality. There definitely is a Spanish element. There is also a Black and Mestizo element. Gonzalez's essential point is that the Spanish element represents a foreign component, while the Black and Mestizo elements are a native creation which underlay Puerto Rican culture as developed on the island itself, and therefore can be rightly described as the Puerto Rican National identity. This identity is also part of a larger Caribbean identity, and not merely a subgroup of North American or Spanish culture.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

ANTI-MULTI-CULTURALISTS’ ASSAULT ON BROOKLYN SCHOOL AND MUSLIM LEADERS IS BAD FOR NEW YORK CITY AND THE NATION

by Imam Al-Hajj Talib ‘Abdur-Rashid

Since the New York Dept.of Education announced its plan in January of this year to open a dual language (English and Arabic) college preparatory program in Brooklyn, forces opposed to its planned multicultural curriculum have been working to derail the city’s latest experiment in innovative approaches to education. The Khalil Gibran International Academy (KGIA) is scheduled to open this month of September, providing for 6th through 12th grade students what its designers identify as a “diverse, supportive and collaborative learning environment.”

A Neo-Conservative group called the Stop the Madrassa Coalition (STMC) (http://www.stopthemadrassa.wordpress.com/) began expoliting 1) the unawareness of most Americans insofar as the contributions of Arab culture and history to global civilization is concerned, 2) post 9-11 fears, and 3) anti-immigrant sentiments . They fanned the flames of opposition amongst parents at P.S. 282 in Park Slope, the Brooklyn neighborhood where the school was originally to open,until those parents voted against having the new program located in their school.

The Coalition’s ideologue, and the most recognizable face and name on its advisory board, is that of Daniel Pipes of the Middle East Forum; a right-wing, Neo-Conservative think tank. Pipes is a well-known Islamophobe, who for years has been attacking Muslim leaders in America who take firm Social Justice stances on both domestic and international issues; whether they carry the American flag or not.

His favorite targets are Muslim African American leaders, who tend to be bolder and more outspoken against injustices and American government hypocrisy, than their immigrant peers. Pipes continued this pattern of aggression against American cirtizens whom he deems dangerous, when he directed the cross-hair sights of the STMC towards this writer, and the end of August.

Background

Parental disgruntlement scuttled plans to open the KGIA at P.S.262 , but the City of New York continued to stand by its commitment to the special school. Thus , the Dept. of Education announced weeks ago that it would open at the site of MS 447 in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn. The City remained adamant in its support of the KGIA, refusing to give in to pressure from the Neo-Conservatives, who wanted to close the school before it opened. The KGIA opened on scheduled and without incident..

This evidenced rejection of the Neo-Cons’ assertion that the school is an “Isla-mist" front, that will become a religious school disguised as a public one. Chancellor Joel Klein has stated publicly that if that were ever to be the case, then the school would be closed. In fact, the KGIA is to be the latest in the Dept. of Ed’s “New Visions for Public Schools” initiatives, which identify special groups of students and innovative educational ideas, and builds programs around them. Other efforts in the immediate past include numerous schools for gifted youngsters, alternative schools for the not so gifted who have trouble learning in traditional environments, an all-girls school in East Harlem, and a school for youth identified as gay, lesbian or transgendered, in Manhattan.

The success of these educational innovations seem to have eluded the Neo-Cons, who have appeared on all of the usual right-wing Neo-conservative television programs (Glen Beck, the O’Reilly Factor, etc. ) voicing their opposition to the KGIA, as their local print media equivalents (The NY Sun, NY Post, etc.) have attacked the idea of the school, and its visionary first principal, Debbie Al-Montaser. Two weeks ago Al-Montaser was forced to resign for failure to denounce a t-shirt produced by a NY-based group of Arab-American women artists , that read “Intifada NYC”.

Lost in all of this has been the fact that the battle over KGIA is really nothing more than the latest effort of right-wing Neo-Cons to fight the increasing multi-cultural direction of American education. When White Anglo-Saxon Protestants conquered the native Americans and established the American Empire, they also established as an empowered majority, “a dominant culture with its traditions, literature, facts, its special claim to know and supervise language, and its Protestant religions”. (Bloom, The Closing of the American Mind, 1987, pp. 30, 160, 162)

This Anglo-American dominance over all American institutions included the field of education. The public school system was the vehicle for academic standardization in major cities in both the North (like New York), and the South. Its curriculum was designed to create a common mind-set amongst American students, rooted in a Euro-centric, colonists’ interpretation of history, culture, and world events, along with instruction in math, the sciences, and other areas. The targets of this design were both “old and anticipated new waves of immigrants to the land” (Kly, The Anti-Social Contract, pp. 42-43).

This socialization strategy had limited effectiveness on non-immigrants like African American youth (who as the descendants of slaves were segregated in the South under American apartheid), Native American youth (who were segregated on reservations), and Mexicans (marginalized on the fringes of society), as well as Spanish-speaking immigrants. It still does today in Northern and Southern inner cities . (Davila, 2004), and the mid-West
The social upheaval of the 1960s and 70s, and the profound change which followed in its wake, began to force the American people, especially those of European descent, to reexamine the cultural heritage of the nation. During that time ethnic studies, women’s studies, and other areas of research previously excluded from curricula, were demanded by students nation-wide.
Some 20-odd years ago, Multicultural Education emerged as a bonafide extension of this late 20th century social revolution. It challenged the idea of a (White, Euro-centered) monocultural American ideal, with the acknowledgement of the nation as an amalgamation of many cultures (M. Haley, 1999). It was and is an idea, an educational reform movement, and a process (Banks, 1997).

However forces also existed then that opposed the change, insisting upon the maintenance of a monocultural status-quo. It is these same forces, rooted in a 20th century jingoism that smacks of racism (i.e. White supremacy), that are still doggedly opposing multicultural programs in the American educational system; even as the nation’s ethnic, cultural, linguistic, religious and spiritual demographic, continually changes.

One of these anti-multiculturalists is David Yerushalmi,a leader of the Stop the Madrassa Coaliton. Yerushalmi, described in The Jewish Week newspaper as a “national advisory board member, counsel, and defacto treasurer” (Chandler and Cohler-Esses, 2007) is the founder and president of an organization called The Society of Americans for National Existence (or SANE). It’s mission statement defines one of its objectives as, “…the dismantling of the liberal enterprise, including a rejection of the Open Society agenda and multiculturalism that so dominates and permeates our society”. (http://www.saneworks.us/mission.php) .

An ally of Yerushalmi is conservative writer Elan Journo, who has stated of multicultural textbooks that they reveal “…a concerted effort to portray the most backward, impoverished and murderous cultures as advanced, prosperous and life-enhancing”.

He continues, “Multiculturalism's goal is not to teach about other cultures, but to promote - by means of distortions and half-truths—the notion that non-Western cultures are as good as, if not better than, Western culture. Far from ‘broadening’ the curriculum, what multiculturalism seeks is to diminish the value of Western culture in the minds of students. But, given all the facts, the objective superiority of Western culture is apparent, so multiculturalists must artificially elevate other cultures and depreciate the West”. ( Journo, August 20,2007)

By quoting such members and supporters selectively, the Stop the Madrassa coalition tries (unsuccessfully) to obscure its obstructionist goals and Neo-Conservative identity. But it’s true colors come out in its writings and declarations. It claims to “wholeheartedly support the study of Arabic”, along with Farsi and Urdu, “…for national security purposes”. What the Coalition doesn’t say is that it is forced to take this position because the federal government is pushing what it calls “critical language” studies throughout the country, from kindergarten though college. This was announced by President Bush last January, the same month in which plans for the KGIA were unveiled.

The “critical languages” also include Chinese, Russian and Korean (all of which the Neo-Cons fail to mention in their statement), and the reason for this early 21st century enhancement of America’s foreign language study, is not just related to national security, but also the preparation of American students to compete in a global economic, technological, and scientific market; again as noted by President Bush on other occasions.

Having successfully hounded and harassed Debbie Al-Montasser - a caring, aware Arab-American immigrant, who has dedicated herself over the years to working with people of different ethnic and religious backgrounds in New York City, the Neo-Cons have now turned their attack upon an African American Muslim religious leader who sits on the Advisory board of the KGIA, namely this writer.

A week or so ago on its web-site, the Neo-Con coalition called for my resignation from the KGIA Advisory Board. The reasons cited by them reveal the true nature of their retrogressive thinking, Neo-Conservative politics, and anachronistic world view.

First, this writer was (accurately) cited as a member of the Committee to Free Imam Jamil Al-Amin (the former H. Rap Brown), whom the Neo-Cons identify solely as a “convicted cop killer”. This is mentioned about me as a negative. They fail to mention that there are many people who attended the imam’s trial (I was one of them, and I never saw Daniel Pipes or any of his Neo-Con associates there), and who don’t believe that he received a fair legal proceeding. Thus we are supporting him during his appeal process. This process is part of the system of American law and justice, which we are placing our confidence in to right what we believe to be a wrong. What’s wrong with that?

My second transgression according to the Neo-Cons, is that I have an essay available for reading on the inter-net, that asserts the Christopher Columbus didn’t discover America, that this land was inhabited by the Original or Native Americans long before anyone else came here, and that African Muslims were here before Chris. The Neo-Cons seem outraged by this view, which they denounce as “Islamist propaganda”. Certainly, my assertion must have surely outraged Journo, who in the above writing cites as an example of Multiculturalism’s “War on Education”, a textbook referring to West African Pre-Columbian civilization.

Excuse me,Neo-Cons ? I first learned of Muslim pre-Columbian presence in America, by reading of the references in the diary of Columbus himself (Jane,1988), and the writings of historians like Professors Leo Wiener , a Jewish American and author of Africa and the Discovery of America; a three volume work on the subject, published in 1920-22/ Then there is Professor Ivan Van Sertimer’s They Came Before Columbus (1976). He is an American Christian of African descent . Neither of these scholars was or is a Muslim, or an “Islamist”. Further, I confirmed this history during a meeting with Native American elders and leaders at the mosque I serve, years ago. Again, none of them were Muslims, much less “Islamists”.

Thirdly, the Neo-Cons cite the logo of the Mosque of Islamic Brotherhood Inc. (visible on our web site at http://www.mosqueofislamicbrotherhoodinc.org/) and the fact that it has a sword on it beneath the words in Arabic which translated mean , “There is no god worthy of worship but Allah”, and Muhammad is His Messenger” , as proof of my “radical Islamist” identity.

Excuse me again? Do they have a problem with our declaration of faith in a country in which every citizen has freedom of religious belief and expression? Perhaps what the Neo-Cons really have a problem with is our use of a sword on our logo. The sword is a religious symbol not only for Muslims, but Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, and Taoists, that has been used throughout history not only by Africans and Arabs, but Celts, Chinese, Greeks, Japanese and Scandanavians (Cooper, 1978).

Further, doesn’t “Lady Justice”, you know, the one depicted as a statue in front of the Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C wearing a blindfold, and holding a balance scale in one hand, have a sword in her other? So why do the Neo-Cons have a problem with Muslims using the sword as a symbol of temporal justice and mercy, and the authority of righteousness, when other people and faith groups do the same?

Perhaps the Neo-Cons are upset because we of the M.I.B. declare that “Jihad is our way”, or “death in the way of Allah is our promised end”. Yet, even a little research by them (like beliefnet.com ,or religioustolerance.org) would help these narrow-minded individuals to realize that jihad is an Arabic word for “struggle”, and that it’s dimensions are primarily non-violent (as in spiritual jihad –called “the most excellent” by the Prophet Muhammad, or verbal jihad against tyranny, also identified as the same by him.

Then there is the jihad of arduous struggle, like the jihad against AIDS (and yes, they call it that) waged successfully in Uganda, East Africa for the past two decades. Jihad is only finally violent, as in self-defense or armed struggle.

The word “jihad” is over-used and highly mis-understood today, even by some Muslims; and apparently by the neo-Cons as well. Perhaps the latter are watching too much of their own corporate controlled media.

Yes it is true that when Muslims die, we want to do so in the way of Allah; which means in obedience to Him (Almighty God), and in a state of righteousness. Isn’t this the desire of all who are believers in the God of Abraham, and the existence of heaven and hell in the hereafter?

The Neo-Cons reveal not only their biases, but their fears, when they attack an African American Muslim leader and his Harlem-based congregation, who have been doing good works in the City of New York and beyond, for four decades. Like others from our Harlem community, we work daily to build bridges of tolerance and understanding in what is perhaps the world’s most diversified city.

What bridges have people like Mr. Pipes and the members of the Stop the Madrassa Coalition , and their advisors (many of whom do not live in New York), worked to build, anywhere? They only exploit the anxieties of good people, while perpetrating stereotypes as they engage in the politics of intolerance and fear.

In so doing, they render a disservice not only to the people of the City of New York, but the entire country. Ignorance breeds fear, fear breeds distrust, and distrust leads to division. Knowledge leads to awareness, awareness to enlightenment, enlightenment to understanding, and understanding to solidarity. What the city of New York and the entire country needs in this day and time are bridge builders not people dividers, or political wolves in sheep’s clothing. Apparently New York City’s mayor and education chancellor understand this, and good for them.

References

Banks, James A. (1997). “Multicultural Education: Goals and Dimensions”. http://www.depts.washington.edu/centerme/view.htm

Bloom, Allan (1987). The Closing of the American Mind . New York: Simon & Schuster

Chandler, Doug and Larry Cohler-Esses (2007) “Tables Turn on Arab School Critics”. The Jewish Week.August 30, 2007. New York.
http://www.thejewishweek.com/news/newscontent.php3?artid=14445

Columbus, Christopher. I, Columbus: My Journal, 1492-3 (1990) New York: Walker & Co.
Columbus, Christopher. The Four Voyages of Columbus: A History in Eight Documents, Including Five by Christopher Columbus, in the Original Spanish. Edited by Cecil Jane. London, England: Dover Publications

Cooper, J.C.(1978). An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Traditional Symbols . London, England: Thames and Hudson

Davila, Arlene (2004). Barrio Dreams: Puerto Ricans, Latinos, and the Neoliberal City .
Berkeley, Los Angeles, London: University of California Press

Hanley, Mary S. (1999). “The Scope of Multicultural Education”. New Horizons for Learning. http://www.newhorizons.org/strategies/multicultural/hanley.htm

Journo, Elan (2007). “Multiculturalism’s War on Education”. The Conservative Voice.
http://www.theconservativevoice.com/article/27441.html

Khalil Gibran International Academy (2007). “New School: Executive Summary 2007, New Visions for Public Schools”. http://www.acei.org/misconceptions.htm

Kly, Y.N.(1989). The Anti-Social Contract . Atlanta,Ga: Clarity Press Inc.,

Van Sertima, Ivan ((1976). They Came Before Columbus: New York: Random House
Wiener, Leo (1920,1922). Africa and the Discovery of America (3 Vols.) . Philadelphia: Innes & Sons

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Clip of Mufti Translation- AlBaseerah 1/2

Clip from AlBaseerah Seminar

Check out the site and benefit from the ulama'

http://www.albaseerah.org

Duaa' Qunoot Taraweeh 1428/2007, day 7. Ash-Shaykh As-Sudais

Hispanic Men's Market Potential Could Redefine Ethnic Grooming Sets
Antoinette Alexander
The Hispanic market is hot as such celebrities as Antonio Banderas, Jennifer Lopez and Salma Hayek become the epitome of beauty in the eyes of America. Response to this cultural shift is becoming increasingly evident in how companies go to market with women's beauty care products, but when it comes to catering to Hispanic men, a great deal of untapped opportunities remain.

"The Latina has been an incredible focus and force [in the beauty industry[, and the man certainly is going to bring that same kind of sexiness," said David Wolfe, creative director for the Doneger Group.

Despite the increased focus on the Hispanic community and its immense buying power, most of the ethnic grooming products still found at drug and mass are geared toward African-Americans, in large part because they tend to have more specific skin and hair care needs versus other ethnic groups. However, research suggests that lucrative opportunities exist for those retailers and manufacturers that can overcome the cautionary mantra of "so many options, so little demand" and effectively reach this growing consumer group.

Marketers should be encouraged to know that Hispanic men--who ascended to the rank of the most numerous U.S. minority as of 2003--are expected to have a spending power of $271 billion to $361 billion in 2004. By 2008, that spending range is predicted to climb to between $450 billion and $600 billion, according to a research report by Packaged Facts.

Furthermore, the research predicts that the men's ethnic HBC market, driven in part by Hispanic men, will be valued at more than $1.7 billion at retail as of 2008--a total gain of nearly 20 percent between 2003 and 2008.

Many industry observers agree that Hispanic men have long been known for taking great pride in their hair, skin and clothes. So, as the men's grooming segment continues to grow, it would seem that catering to Hispanic men would be a natural fit.

[Hispanic men] were metrosexuals ahead of their time. It is not like they are becoming metrosexuals--there was just never a word for it before," said Rochelle Newman-Carrasco, chief executive officer of Los Angeles-based Hispanic marketing firm Enlace Communications. She noted that much of Hispanic men's interest in personal grooming stems from the cultural belief that how a person presents himself to society says something about his family.

However, that is not to say that targeting the Hispanic consumer--whether male or female--is not complex. Issues that tend to tangle the web include cultural differences, language preferences and understanding the specific needs of a customer whether they are Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban or South American.

Newman-Carrasco suggests that because the Hispanic community is a collective culture--versus Caucasians who are more individualistic--marketers should find ways to get involved in community events to get the word out, such as promoting their products at a local baseball game.

"Hispanics are community-oriented, and there are a lot of events and opportunities to integrate products into the community," Newman-Carrasco said. "What sports are Hispanics interested in? What events are they at? There are a lot of innovative ways to speak to the community."
Looking to target the Hispanic consumer in general, not necessarily just men for personal grooming, several drug chains, such as Longs Drug Stores, Walgreens, Rite Aid and CVS, have ramped up targeted merchandising efforts to reach Hispanic shoppers.

Being based in New York, Ricky's Urban Groove--the eclectic and extremely fashion-forward chain of HBA stores--is in the heart of an ethnic melting pot and for years has merchandised its stores to reflect that diversity.

Ricky Kenig, the founder of the 22-store retail outlet, said that about 30 percent of its customers are Hispanic, and as a result, Ricky's always has offered in its ethnic section some grooming products geared toward Hispanics--male and female.

At Newark, Del.-based Happy Harry s, Kathy Ross, HBC category manager, said she has seen very little activity from vendors looking to target Hispanic men specifically.

"It seems like [men's grooming], started leaning toward the Hispanics, and then it became more about men in general," Ross said.

However, there are indications that perhaps the Hispanic male's time is about to come.
Manufacturer Combe rolled out in 2003 a new shade of Just For Men hair color designed specifically for Hispanic men. Known as Castano Negro Oscuro, or Darkest Brown Black, the new shade is available in a shampoo-in hair color, as well as in a brush-in gel for mustaches, beards and sideburns.

Meanwhile, Dana Classic Fragrances recently introduced in the United States four Hispanic scents for men: Musk by Dana, Vetiver by Dana, Herbissimo Mejorana and Herbissimo Te Verde. For years, the fragrances have been hot sellers in Europe, and now the company is hoping to generate the same buzz in the U.S. market. The fragrances, which retail for $9.99 each, are being sold now in select Rite Aid and Kmart locations and likely will expand to other retailers.

"We analyzed the market, and the Hispanic market is growing very fast. It only makes sense to market to them," said Sean-Patrick Hillman of Corbin & Associates, which represents Dana Classic Fragrances. He noted that the company eventually plans to introduce ancillary products like aftershave to the U.S. market.

Patricia Bailey of the PBailey Group said that in the spring, manufacturer Global Cosmetics Co. will launch a new Hispanic line for both men and women under its Radical brand.

In addition, Global Cosmetics Co. currently is targeting retailers with value sections and dollar stores with its new styling gel under the New York Style brand. The product, which has bilingual labeling, targets ethnic consumers and will retail for about $1 each.

"Now that the [term] metrosexual exists in the marketing segment, the next logical step is to say, 'Who is the metrosexual?' and, seeing that they are Hispanics, Newman-Carrasco said.Projected growth of male populations in the United States *
2004-2010
compound annual
Race/ethnicity 2004 2007 2010 growth rate
Hispanics 18.5 20.2 21.8 2.7%
African-Americans 16.6 17.2 17.8 1.0
Asian/Pacific Islanders 5.8 6.3 6.8 2.9
Ethnic male population 40.9 43.7 46.4 2.1
Overall male population 139.5 143.1 146.7 0.8
* Population in millions. Source: U.S. Dept. of Commerce,
Bureau of the Census, Packaged Facts

COPYRIGHT 2004 Reproduced with permission of the copyright holder. Further reproduction or distribution is prohibited without permission. COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group.

Monday, September 17, 2007

DC's Changing Status
By, Tariq Nelson
September 6, 2007

Majority black status is slipping away. The blacks are being moved into PG county. (BTW, the owners of Ben’s Chili Bowl are Muslim)

"Much has changed since Ben’s Chili Bowl opened nearly 50 years ago on a bustling strip known as America’s Black Broadway for its thriving black-owned shops and theaters.

Back then, the red-and-white diner was a popular hangout for black bankers, doctors and blue-collar workers who lived and worked along U Street. Even jazz greats Duke Ellington and Ella Fitzgerald could be found devouring chili half-smokes and milkshakes after performing at nearby clubs.

Now, on some days, the crowd at the Washington landmark is mostly white, reflecting a neighborhood metamorphosis that has brought in high-end condominiums and businesses like Starbucks.

“Sometimes you look around and wonder, ‘Where are all the black people?”‘ said Virginia Ali, who opened the diner with her husband, Ben, in 1958.

A similar transformation is happening across Washington as the black population declines and more white residents and other ethnic groups move in. Demographers say if the trend continues the District of Columbia could lose its longtime majority-black status within 10 years. The changes are shaking up city politics, reshaping neighborhoods and displacing longtime residents.
Washington’s black population peaked at 71% in 1970 as tens of thousands of white residents left for the suburbs, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. But by 2006, the estimated number of black residents had fallen to 57%.

At the same time, the population of white residents, which plunged from 65% in 1950 to 27% 30 years later, is growing. By 2006, the census estimated that 38% of D.C. residents were white. The city’s Asian and Hispanic populations also are climbing.

Analysts attribute the shift to lower-income and middle-class black residents leaving for the suburbs while young white professionals and others able to afford expensive housing prices are moving in. The newcomers to D.C. are being lured by a robust economy, new condos and a chance to escape worsening highway congestion.

“The city today is occupied by a lot of singles and childless couples who have put incomes together,” said Robert Lang, director of the Metropolitan Institute at Virginia Tech. “I don’t think it’s a straight-on white gentrification — it’s more affluent as a whole.”

[…]

“A lot of blacks saw D.C. as sort of the mecca,” said Carroll, who is black. “You came here for education, to get a good job.”

It was in those years, however, that neighborhoods such as U Street fell into decline. Many businesses and residents fled when rioting broke out in 1968 after Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. That was followed by the cocaine epidemic of the 1980s. Buildings also were razed to make way for a subway line.

Many neighborhoods are now booming. In Columbia Heights, cranes dot the skyline as workers finish construction on a massive retail complex that will boast the city’s first Target store. Condos nearby are advertised at $300,000 and up.

Change also is happening near the new convention center on the edge of downtown, where Shirley Williams is trying to hold on to the apartment she has lived in for 33 years. Her landlord recently agreed to sell to a developer who plans to tear it down.

“I’ve been here through all the rough times and now that it’s getting better they want me to leave,” the retired school teacher’s assistant said. “I don’t think that’s right.”

Council member Jim Graham, who represents some of the city’s most racially mixed neighborhoods, said city officials have worked to preserve thousands of low-income housing units amid a red-hot housing market.
“If I wanted to live in a neighborhood where everybody looked and acted like me, I have many choices,” said Graham, who is white. “I like a diverse neighborhood.”

Still, in May a record 56,463 families were on a waiting list for vouchers to have their housing costs subsidized by the city, according to the latest statistics from the D.C. Housing Authority.

There are indications of growing frustration. Some new residents have complained about unsupervised youths targeting them by throwing rocks. And a local blog has posted complaints about graffiti that reads: “Go Home Rich White People.”

Meanwhile, at Ben’s Chili Bowl, Ali said she is pleased to see much of the city recovering after years of decline. And Ali and her sons, who now oversee the restaurant, welcome both newcomers and loyal customers alike. She is nostalgic, though, for the way things were when U Street felt like one big family.

While diversity is good and is change inevitable, she said, “you lose the closeness of an ethnic community.”

Saturday, September 15, 2007

At the Masjid in Clarksville This Year
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.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Massive Graffiti Special Attraction of Jeddah Festival
Hasan Hatrash, Arab News

JEDDAH, 12 July 2007 — Municipal officials here have established a 120-meter-long graffiti wall as part of the Jeddah Summer Festival, which kicks off this evening at the Corniche.

The three-meter-high wall covers an area of 278 square meters at the old airport area, said Jamal Abo Imarah, head of the municipality’s Department of Social Development.

He said that the wall was constructed in the same area where the 8th youth camp is based. The wall is open to all graffiti artists and will be supervised by a committee of artists who would guide the youngsters in their paintings.

He said that the organizers of the youth camp initiated the idea of the big wall in order to attract younger people to participate in the event. The municipality provided all the facilities and workers to construct the wall, he said.

Ahmad Al-Hamdan, general supervisor of the youth camp, said that this idea would contribute to changing the stereotype image of youth camps as boring and preachy. Some critics have in the past gone as far as to say the summer youth programs in Saudi Arabia, which often include religious education with athletic activities, have sometimes contributed to the development of religious intolerance among some youngsters. “This summer camp will not restrict the youths to certain activities, but rather give them the chance to express their ideas and innovations,” he said.

Makkah Gov. Prince Khaled Al-Faisal will open the Jeddah Summer Festival’s inaugural session. The event is scheduled to start with fireworks and a laser show by the seaside in addition to a cultural music and dance show.

The festival includes 226 events of which 40 percent are entertainment activities while the rest covers sports, culture and health for all segments of the society, according to Saleh Al-Turki, chairman of the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI). He said that this year’s Jeddah Summer Festival is expected to be special because of the unlimited support and facilities provided by the governor of the region.

He said that the JCCI held serious meetings with investors and commercial center owners to urge them to offer real discounts during the festival especially that Jeddah has gained a good reputation for being a shopping/tourism destination in the Kingdom.

Ibrahim Badr, executive manager of the Jeddah Summer Festival, said that this year’s festival would witness the return of musical shows of famous Saudi and Gulf singers. Special firework shows would be held every Thursday and Friday during the festival, he noted.
Based on Astronomy, Ramadan Is on Sept. 13
P.K. Abdul Ghafour, Arab News

JEDDAH, 12 July 2007 — Based on astronomic calculations, Sept. 13 (Thursday) will be the first day of Ramadan while Dec. 19 (Wednesday) will be Arafat Day during Haj this year, according to Sheikh Abdullah ibn Munie, a member of the Council of Senior Islamic Scholars and the Umm Al-Qura Calendar Committee.

Sheikh Munie, however, pointed out that the new crescent of Ramadan and Shawwal should be sighted by witnesses to determine the beginning and end of the fasting month, in accordance with Shariah regulations.

He was apparently referring to a Hadith of the Prophet (peace be upon him), which says: “Do not fast until you see the crescent, and do not break the fast until you have seen the crescent, but if the sky is overcast then enumerate for it.” (Bukhari)

Munie said this year’s Ramadan would have 30 days as it would end on Oct. 12, adding that it was impossible for Ramadan to start on Wednesday, Sept. 12. “The problem with sighting the crescent for Ramadan and Shawwal this year is that the crescent will disappear before sunset,” Munie said. The crescent of Ramadan will appear at 3.44 p.m. on Tuesday (Shaaban 29) and disappear at 6.24 p.m. five minutes before sunset.

He also announced the beginning of the months Rajab, Shaaban, Shawwal, Dul Hijjah and Muharram, after consulting astronomers in Kuwait and Egypt in addition to those in the Kingdom.

Islamic scholars around the world are divided on whether the beginning and end of Ramadan could be determined on the basis of astronomical calculations in the light of the Hadith recorded by Bukhari. While one group says modern technology could be used for the purpose, their opponents say sighting of crescent by naked eye is a must in the light of the Prophet’s instructions.

Syed Khaled Shaukat of the Islamic Society of North America believes that it is high time for Muslims to reach a consensus on the issue. “In the present era of scientific and technological advancement, some Muslims are still avoiding the use of scientific knowledge for making an Islamic calendar that makes people wait till midnight for a confirmation of moon-sighting,” he said. He stressed that calculations made with the support of modern technology are far more dependable than the claims of sighting. The most misunderstood question is whether the sighting is a means or a requirement of ascertaining the beginning of an Islamic month. The Fiqh Council of North America is of the view that physical sighting must go hand in hand with scientific calculations.

“Islam is a strong proponent of using reasons. Astronomy can accurately establish the time of birth of the new moon, and the time interval when it is impossible to see the crescent. Thus, there is no harm in using this astronomical basis to reject a claimed sighting which cannot possibly be correct,” one expert said.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

New York Arabic school sparks row

By Kim Ghattas BBC News, New York

Last Updated: Thursday, 6 September 2007, 14:00 GMT 15:00 UK

The welcome signs waved by smiling supporters were meant to make the 60 students enrolled at New York's first publicly-funded Arabic language school feel welcome on their first day in class.
Police officers were stationed by the gates on pupils' first day of school



But there was no hiding the dozen police officers who stood outside the gates, nor the reporters who had shown up for the opening of a school surrounded by controversy.

The Khalil Gibran International Academy in Brooklyn, named after a 20th Century Lebanese Christian poet, has attracted students from diverse ethnic backgrounds.

Some have joined to reconnect with their families' culture and homeland; others, with no Arab or Muslim background, because they believe learning the language will give them a valuable skill.
But while the school is backed by city authorities, over the past few months it has become embroiled in a row fuelled by suspicion over its curriculum and a controversy over its original head teacher.

Suspicion

As classes began on Tuesday, members of the "Stop the Madrassa" protest group rallied outside New York's City Hall, calling for the school to be shut down.



Supporters say it is no different to other language schools in New York



Although "Madrassa" means school in Arabic, in English the word has become associated with radical Muslim religious schools.
Opponents of the Brooklyn school argue that not enough has been made public about its curriculum, which is why there is suspicion about its agenda.

"We are, all of us, in favour of teaching Arabic, it's not about whether we teach Arabic culture. We're all in favour of doing that too," said Frank Gaffney, president of the Center for Security and Policy in Washington and a former assistant secretary of defence in the Reagan administration.

"It is about teaching it in an appropriate way and this is not an appropriate way. In fact, it is a way that is fraught with peril, not just for New York but for the country at large."

An internet search reveals how heated the discussion has become. A post on one website suggests that the school's football field will be converted into a terrorist training camp.
Another comment reads: "Now Muslims will be able to learn how to become terrorists without leaving New York."
Double standards

New York City's education department has defended the school against its critics.

Education officials say the school will teach the normal core curriculum
Official Garth Harries told reporters there were 200 small schools in New York teaching Chinese, French and Russian and that the Arabic language school would be no different.

"It's a core sixth grade curriculum that these kids are starting with, which is the basics - maths, English, history, science," she was quoted as saying.

"And the kids are also going to be learning Arabic, which is an incredibly exciting and unique opportunity for these kids.

"Religion plays absolutely no part in the school. This is a public school, it wouldn't play a part in any of our schools."

The school also has the support of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

The New York Immigration Coalition has condemned the attacks on the school, saying a clear message must be sent "that racist comments associating Arabic language and culture with terrorism will not be tolerated".

If anything they want to show off the kind of tolerance and culture that they want to teach
Chung-Wha HongNew York Immigration CoalitionExecutive director Chung-Wha Hong said the school, like any other, had to be very open about its curriculum and indeed had shown its readiness to be so.

"If anything they want to show off the kind of tolerance and culture that they want to teach," she said.

"It would be a mistake to demand more information from this school than we do from others. We would be applying double standards."

But Mona elTahawy, a New York-based commentator on Muslim and Arab affairs, said the school should be making more details public.

"I think it's a serious mistake on behalf of the school and the Department of Education not to have made it much clearer, much earlier what exactly the school was going to be teaching," she said.

Furore
The controversy over the school reached fever pitch last month after its founding principal, Debbie Almontaser, failed to condemn the use of the word "intifada" in the slogan "Intifada NYC" on a T-shirt worn by Arab women.

Headteacher Debbie Almontaser resigned after a controversy

The Arabic term is commonly used to refer to the Palestinian uprising against Israel. Ms Almontaser said in Arabic it simply means "shaking off".

Two local tabloids reported claims she had ties to Islamic extremist organizations. But friends and supporters say she is a moderate Muslim who preaches inter-faith understanding.

Ms Almontaser resigned and the city replaced her with a Jewish principal who does not speak Arabic.

Parents who decided to send their children to the school said they were upset and saddened by the furore.

Among them was a Jewish mother who was on the design team for the school and said she would not have supported it if there were anything sinister on the agenda.

Another mother, Carmen Colon, had enrolled her 11-year-old son but pulled him out when the controversy started growing.

"I know for a fact that any American who learns Arabic will make tons of money whether it's translation, whether it's in the customer service area," she told US networks.

"The people who are so against the school for me seem more like the terrorists, by terrorising the community and making us feel that it's unsafe for our children to be there."

Hebrew school

Meanwhile, the Hebrew-teaching Ben Gamla charter school in Hollywood, Florida, has also been also in the spotlight, with its Kosher meals, rabbinical director and lessons about Jewish culture.

At the heart of the debate over both schools is whether Arabic and Hebrew can be taught without teaching religion.

Ultimately, it stems from the American conviction that paying taxes to support religious teachings is a violation of the separation of church and state.

While there have been no rallies demanding that the Ben Gamla school be shut down, the school was ordered to suspend Hebrew classes while officials from the local school board determined whether teachers were advocating the Jewish faith.

The Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish campaign group, and the Jewish Federation of Broward County have expressed concerns about the separation of church and state.

"There are unanswered questions as to how the subject matter of Jewish culture can be taught without also teaching the Jewish religion," federation head Eric Stillman said.

In New York, at the City Hall protest, Frank Gaffney from the Center for Security policy said he thought taxpayers' money should not go to the Ben Gamla school either.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

National1

Here is an interesting video on the Young Lords. It also includes some of the Lords from the original Young Lords Organization in Chicago.

Peace/Salam
Khalil Al-Puerto Ricani