Just as Black American women are constantly expected to pretend they’re never raped, murdered or paralyzed beneath layers of misogyny by their Black male counterparts (all in the interest of defending the ‘image’ of our ‘race’ from the predatory behavior of the dominant White Supremacist culture) – I, as a Black person born Sunni Muslim in Omdurman North Sudan and later adopted and raised by Black Americans in Washington D.C. am expected to protect Islam and the world ‘image’ of fellow Muslims at all costs.
I have payed a heavy price in America for failing to do this. I am regularly reduced to the status of ‘traitor’ by even the most intelligent critical thinkers, Black or White, my life story and my life experiences are routinely dismissed as fodder and tales, my personal truth (and I am the most nakedly truthful American I know) are cruelly twisted and rebuked by America’s literary gatekeepers (fellow Liberals) in their great fear that the masses won’t support Palestine if they’re exposed to Kola Boof’s rants about Arabic slavery and Arab supremacy in North Africa—the great Liberal fear that the masses might see White Supremacists justified in their legendary hatred, violence and dehumanization of Muslim people.
An iron blanket of institutional prejudices I myself experience living in Palm Beach, Florida where ICE agents show up any time unannounced to remind me that my birth name is Naima Bint Harith—remind me that because I am chocolate covered and nappy-headed, I don’t look half Egyptian, half Arab—remind me of long ago modeling days in 1990’s Morocco where I was forced into a sexual relationship with terrorist Osama Bin Laden (and before Somi, I used his mentor Hasan al-Turabi as a sugar daddy to live well in Cairo).
It gets thrown in my face regardless of the fact that I am a legal United States citizen since 1993 (*I came here a child in 1979 and was denied citizenship for two decades). I am routinely called on by White Christians to pretend that Christianity and Whiteness are some superior form of decency that I’ve stumbled upon—‘oh, you’re so lucky to be in America, Naima/Kola’–and yes, raised by Black American women, I do feel lucky about that.
I love America very deeply.
This nation has given me a way to survive and be heard.
Yet there isn’t a moment that I don’t know first hand about the malicious regurgitating hatred so many Americans, especially White Christian ones, harbor towards Muslims. It is virile active injustice against Muslims. It is real.
But still….that fact (Western disdain for Islam) is not ‘the worst’ of what I know. And that Western evil does not exempt me from my obligation as a Black African Womanist and daughter of Sudan to speak the ugly truth about what is happening to millions of women, girls and undesirables (homosexuals) in North Africa—our real lived experiences under Islamic Shariah Law. I am trapped in a horrible no-win situation where my courage is required, tested and used to defame and silence me. Not just the Arab world seeks to silence me, but Black American Academics and White Liberals don’t want me heard from either. If I had a dime for every Black man who told me Islam is more important than Black women—I’d be Elon Musk. And this demonization of me is because I’m telling a little Black girl’s truth.
Which is why I always say the main thing America has taught me is that – the truth does not set you free.
I know that many of my own people (Black, Muslim, Arab) are going to hate me for writing this. But my childhood in Sudan compels me to keep telling you…where I’ve been…andwhat I know.
I know that the word Islam means submit. It does not mean love. It does not mean the pursuit of happiness. It does mean full humanity for all. It does not mean justice. The word means submit. And to enforce that submission is a cruel and ancient institution we Muslim-born people call Shariah Law.
In the streets of Omdurman, North Sudan when I was a child Shariah law distinguished itself as the root cause of literal and constant psychological terror for those women burdened with the ability to think critically—a fear of setting off the men’s insecurities; a fear of being publicly whipped by your own pre-teen son; a fear of appearing doubtful of the Allah-bequeathed male rites; a fear of ending up like the young girls who were stoned for wanting nothing more than to feel sunlight on their bare shoulders; fear of being made to join the women who were sentenced to twenty years in prison for the crime of ‘laughing at a man’ –or the women outcasted from society for birthing a homosexual son or arrested for daring to wear pants—or executed, publicly hung, over some insecure male’s insistence that two women were gazing at one another in a lustful way.
I am still in contact with women in North Sudan today. They tell me that a woman’s testimony in court is still worth half of a man’s testimony. Men are still permitted to divorce their wives with mere repudiation. But women must show documented justification for a divorce. And of course, at a preset age, the men get full custody of the children no matter what the situation is. A man could be molesting his daughters (which is quite rampant throughout North Africa) and he would still receive full custody of them over the mother under Shariah Law.
Notice how it’s okay to openly denounce Catholic Priests for their well known and pervasive child molestations, yet taboo to talk about the fact that child brides, sex trafficking of girls and the rape of boys to avoid damaging the hymens of highly prized virgins are traditional evils that have plagued all religious communities—be they Islamic, Jewish, Christian or animist—defiling the world’s crib since time began. The sexual exploitation of children’s bodies has always been an intrinsic part of Patriarchy. But we Black African girls are not allowed to tell our story. We’re expected to erect a wall of smiling silence that protects the image of the race and protects whatever religion we are.
I’m fifty-three now. I’m so tired of nothing changing for women. I’m so tired of men’s religious. I’m tired of the whole world silencing women and upholding these monstrous traditions.
I don’t want Muslims to be unfairly targeted by American intelligence agencies. I live with that indignity myself. I don’t want Muslims to be discriminated against, stereotyped and dehumanized. I don’t want the freedom of religious practice taken away from Muslims.
But more than that…I don’t want African women caught beneath the sandals of their men’s religions; I don’t want over a thousand years of Arab Islamic slavery to be romanticized away by Black men who worship light skin and slick hair—I don’t want Africa itself to continue being made over by invader-culture, invader-religion. I don’t want to continue this maddening pretense that American Imperialism is the only Imperialism. I want Arab Muslim Imperialism recognized, called out and exiled from Africa so that we who go with the landscape can be free to dream and invent ourselves to our own liking—preferrably in the image of our own ancestors.
Not the European Christian. Not the Arab Muslim. Not the Chinese. But our own ancesors!
To me, Islam and Shariah Law, are the purest form of Patriarchy I have witnessed on earth. I am certain that there are women who believe Judaism or Christianity are the purest forms. It all depends where you come from.
The name Kola Boof comes from Islamic North Africa. I am not a good lamb; I am infinitely disobedient. I have no power—but I value myself. I will fight for my humanity.
I love every type of human being. Your race, sex and religion does not keep me from loving you. It is your treatment of me that will cause me to fear and dislike you.
I wrote this commentary from untold dungeons of bad memories and great despair. I cannot abide insecure men forcing us to praise and deify their hedonistic fantasies of being Gods—destroying our lives; killing our spirits; outlawing our hopes and dreams and telling us that we can only pursue the dreams that are sanctioned in a book that says ‘woman is impure’ …woman shouldn’t own property; the daughter should inherit only half what the son gets; man is to be ‘in charge’ of woman.
It is time for a new improved son.
Sukwa dabitti ya Hamrassa (so let it be written, so let it be done).