Friday, September 12, 2008

A Pig is still a Pig...

Which of these two animals represents change? I guess Barack Obama was right, eh? A pig is still a pig--even with lipstick!

As Salaam Alaikum Imam Warith Deen Mohommed

Imam Warith Deen Mohommed recently passed away at his home in Markham, Illinois. He was 74 years old. Ironically it was on the 9th day of Ramadan (9/9/08), one of the high holy days of the Islamic tradition. He was a spiritual leader to me and a dear friend to my parents, Naomi Salaam Sharif and her former husband, Imam Sidney Rahim Sharif.
The day I learned of his death was like every other day in the news game--busy and deadline oriented.
My girl, Patti (who always manages to find out everything faster than me), left me an email with a news clip about the death of Imam Mohommed. I was simply stunned. His older brother, Jabir Herbert Muhammad (former trainer to Muhammad Ali), had died about 2 weeks earlier on my birthday and the opening session of the Democratic National Convention--August 25, 2008. Both men were sons of the late Nation of Islam (NOI) leader, The Honorable Elijah Muhammad.
I remember my earliest recollection of hearing about Imam Mohommed was as a 12 year old girl when my mother joined the NOI and became Sister Naomi 2X. I became Sister Vanessa X and my siblings all had Xs too. X became our name of choice to replace our slave name--Sanders. Wallace Muhammad was really what I like to call a 'renegade.' He openly challenged some of the teachings of the NOI as prescribed by Master Fard Muhammad, a man that NOI followers regarded as God having appeared in his person. Sorta like Jesus being God as the Son of Man.
My spirit agreed with the teachings of the NOI for the most part as a pre-teen. I was a little big-eyed, brown-skinned girl growing up in the U.S. and I very rarely had my blackness celebrated. At Temple #2 in Chicago I was treated better than a princess--more like a 'little queen'. It was great for my self confidence to know that black people were the cream of the planet earth.
We learned many things about God/Allah and the Islamic tradition. We stopped eating pork and prayed 5xs daily. We heard Elijah Muhammad speak on Sundays and on Wednesdays other ministers taught us. My siblings attended the University of Islam and later Sister Clara Muhammad School. My mom was a school nurse. My step-dad, a Chicago police officer, was a minister and in the Fruit of Islam (FOI); my brother William was in the Jr-FOI. We were taught from the Holy Bible although we were not Christian. We considered ourselves muslim.
In February 1975, when I was 16, we found out at Savior's Day that 'the lamb'--the Honorable Elijah Muhammad has made his earthly transition and that his son Wallace would succeed his leadership. My family and I welcomed the change but many did not. We would go on to follow the teachings of Orthodox Islam, many learning to speak and pray in Arabic, learning to read the Quran and to memorize suras. Many would take the holy pilgrimage to Mecca--in fact, my parents made hajj twice. We would fast during Ramadan and pay zakat to the poor. Imam Mohommed changed his name to reflect who he felt he was; from Wallace to Warith. he completed by changing the spelling of his last name, although he maintained his pride in being the son of Elijah Muhammad.
Imam Warith Deen Mohommed was a humble and wonderful man. He was brilliant, loving and intelligent. Men and boys wanted to be like him. Women admired him and envied his wife. He wanted to be more like Prophet Mohommed and Christ. He taught us to love them both and all of the prophets and men God raised up. He taught us to love ourselves and mankind. he taught us that being a muslim was a way of life--not a religion and that it was not reflected in our attire but in our hearts. He taught us to become independent thinkers and to read the Quran and Bible for ourselves. he encouraged us to pray for wisdom and understanding. He encouraged us to fellowship with muslims of other ethnicities and he led by example. And above all, he taught against us being racist or thinking one race was superior over another. Later, at age 38 I converted to Christianity and became a disciple and follower of Jesus Christ. I still respect the muslims and the impact Islam had on my life for a season. I still love and respect Imam Warith Deen Mohommed.
He was not perfect. He made many mistakes. He was a bridge-builder and did not author confusion or controversy. He was a world class leader.
Thank you for exposing the world to love, Imam Mohommed.
As Salaam Alaikum- peace be unto you

Monday, September 8, 2008

"The View" from Chicago: An Informal Gabfest

Women and talking go together like a hand in glove.
This past Saturday I ventured over to Malcom X College in Chicago to cover a story on an annual event produced by Congressman Danny K. Davis (D-7). In essence it was a Town Hall meeting held for constituents of the 7th Congressional District. various workshops were held on a myriad of topics of interest to district residents. There were vendors from area social services agencies, government agencies and private retail businesses. It was a good time.

As I was leaving, about 2PM I happened by a vendor I'd not seen and stopped to admire her original art. Her name is Marchel'le Barber. To my delight she is a fellow journalist and an entrepreneur I'd remembered reading about from the South suburbs. While we were chatting about a myriad of topics, browsers and potential customers wandered by to admire her artwork display, occasionally speaking. Suzanne Hanney, also a fellow writer was one who stopped to chat for a minute (how awesome is God?). Engaging and full of opinion, Suzanne made Marchel'le and I laugh out loud with her unique perspective on a slew of topics including the presidential race (on which we spent an enormous amount of time offering commentary and perspective).

Finally, we met our last 'gabfest panelist', Ms. Phyllis Powell, an IT specialist, a strong, opinionated woman who is "unashamedly" and "unapoligetically". For over 2 hours (my son says closer to 3), we chatted and laughed; offered rebuttals and agreed (seldom); and reiterated how wonderful it was to have met. At the end ( as security was threatening to lock us inside overnite) we offered huggs and exchanged contact info.
Three black women from totally different backgrounds and some similarities; together with one blonde from a different background, culture and some similarities; four women with respect for each others' differences in backgrounds, ideas, ideals, political views, sexual attitudes, gender attitudes, race relations and faith beliefs.

On the ride home I was left with two thoughts:
1). The magic of the "sisterhood" is that we (as women) are more alike than different.
2). That given a platform, indeed women will talk to each other until we've resolved all of this world's social ills.
My son later told me it reminded him of watching a live episode of "The View"-- only funnier. I hadn't thought of that, but maybe that's why that show works.

"Textual Intercourse" and Other Acts of Indescretion

Mayor Kilpatrick, Former Mayoral Aide, Christine Beatty and Mrs. Kalita Kilpatrick

Technology is off the chain these days. And now, a simple thing like typing a series of private messages into his cell phone has cost the Mayor of Detroit, Kwame Malik Kilpatrick, political office, his mayoral pension, his law license, his historic legacy, his freedom to move about the country and the world, his societal status, and a cool $1M fine.

Last week I watched to my utter dismay, a young man, from a prominent family; who was raised right; who was college educated, be stripped of everything dear to him and given the promise of 120 days behind bars for lying under oath and poor decisions he made regarding an extra-marital affair, and his desire to cover the facts. In this instance his cell phone betrayed him. His text message history was brought forth and his own typed words to his affair partner, a former mayoral city worker and confidante, brought him down.

Would your own text message history convict you of adulterous behavior? Are you using test messaging for what you consider harmless flirting but which could easily turn into "textual intercourse" ( a phrase I borrowed from a brilliant friend and fellow blogger, Reverend Lutionary) with someone other than your spouse?" Could your text message history bring you down and shed light on your own indescretions?

Thursday, September 4, 2008

When your girlfriend is a Princess: Royalty has its privledges

Meet Princess Kasune Zulu, My friend from Zambia, Africa. I first met her in 2002. I realized at that time that she is the first-born daughter I never birthed.
Since the time of our first meeting up to today, I have enough to say about her that I could actually start a blog just about her and her exploits! Suffice to say that she is a queen among young women. She is smart, saavy and very special. She is a newlywed and a mommy. And there is absolutely no end to how God will use her to change this world.
Last week she was in St. Paul working with First Lady Laura Bush and Cindy McCain and addressing Republican delegates; the week before she was in Denver working with Michelle Obama and Mrs. Biden, and addressing the Democratic delegates.
Here she is shown accepting a kiss from the leader of the "free world," President George W. Bush in the Rose Garden of the White House in 2004. I remember asking her how it felt to meet privately with and talk to Pres Bush, General Colin Powell, and then Sec. of Health, Tommy Thompson in a closed door meeting at the White House to discuss HIV and AIDS appropriations for Africa.
She replied, "Why dahling (she's so British), what do you mean? Each day I speak directly to the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords." Should I be overly impressed to speak to anyone after that?" I just shook my head at her answer--She's amazing.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

"Governor Grandma" & Bristol

Governor Palin, or Sarah 'Baracuda' Bulldog, let me get this straight. You expect the American public to buy this scenario as a happy time for you and your family...?
Scene 1: Your 17 year old is pregnant and unwed. You are thrilled beyond belief that she is, and look forward to being a young Grandma. Her unwed pregnancy is broadcast in media around the world and your daughter quickly becomes the most famous unwed mother outside of Mary--mother of Jesus.

Are you despondent? Are you disappointed? Embarrassed? You say, "None of the above."

You are jubilant and proud of your daughter because, after all, your daughter chose life. Since the time of Jesus' birth, unwed motherhood has been looked upon as a shame and a disgrace, yet you are Christian and proud of your daughter's shamefu predicament. You are a politician, yet unmoved by the idea of your family's image being tarnished. If so, you are an original and the very first politician in history of U.S. politics who is not family and image conscious.

Scene 2: You have taught and preached to your own daughter about abstaining from sex as a deterrent to a host of other life complications including HIV and AIDS, Sexually Transmitted Diseases and Pregnancy--the ultimate result of unprotected sex. All to no avail--your own teenage, unwed daughter is pregnant. Yet, you advocate this kind of "abstinence program" versus sex education and prevention programs for all American daughters when it didn't even work for your own?

Scene 3: Here is your published statement to the press on September 1, 2008 when the news broke of your daughter's pregnancy:

"We have been blessed with five wonderful children who we love with all our heart and mean everything to us. Our beautiful daughter, Bristol came to us with news that as parents we knew would make her grow up faster than we had ever planned. We're proud of Bristol's decision to have her baby and even prouder to become grandparents."

As Bristol faces the responsibilities of adulthood, she knows she has our unconditional love and support. "Bristol and the young man she will marry are going to realize very quickly the difficulties of raising a child, which is why they will have the love and support of our entire family. We ask the media to respect our daughterand Levi's privacy as has always been the tradition of children of candidates."

Governor, I ask you: Do you also share the pride and shame that could be felt by other American parents whose daughters see Bristol's situation as one they would love to mirror? Does your small town, Republican reformist mind finally understand how urban inner-city parents whose young daughters find themselves in a similar state of pregnancy feel by deciding to chose life, rather than abortion; when to do so could mean an addition to the state's burgeoning welfare rolls? Can you now identify with the American problems related to working mothers and high numbers of teenage pregnancies?

If this harsh reality of how easy it is for children to be taught the right things and still choose to do what they want regarding sex, drugs, and rock n roll has enlightened you and helped you relate to other Americans, then some good actually has come out of this shameful situation.


Sarah Palin of Alaska is the 'secret weapon' that the McCain Campaign rolled out on Michael Jackson's Birthday as the Republican Vice-Presidential nominee?