November 18, 2008 § 1 Comment
last night i was watching arundhati roy’s video: we (from india) today i was readying nawal saadawi’s memoir (from egypt). the music. the pictures. the words. the writing. the voice. the women. the language.
right now i am studying arabic for the past few weeks/months. arabic is kicking my ass and i am kicking it right back. and at least once a day i ask myself…why i am studying a category 4 language (yes, languages are like hurricanes…destroying everything precious in sight and leaving you nothing but the clothes on your back…not even the native thoughts in your head)? but then i remember all of the amazing women that i have known that speak arabic as their mother tongue. most of them were mothers. i remember the women who did not have children and took care of so many people in their communities. i remember my mother teaching me before the age of 7 to say ‘salam aleikum’ and to respond: ‘aleikum salam’ to the tall black men in washington, dc in dark well cut suits. i remember my name is arabic. my daughter’s name is arabic. i remember the centuries-long arabic slave trade which is why in every arabic country i have been to there have been little communities of dark skinned people. i remember this is who we are. and that in many respects we as black folks drew strength and leadership from various interpretations of islam in this new world. who would we be without malcolm?
and my daughter, whose tongue is so flexible and malleable right now, who makes arabic sounds without coaching, while my tongue feels flat and heavy against the soft slight letters sometimes. she was made for this language. and as she gathers more and more vocabulary everyday, i am so excited for her intense language learning phase to be an arabic-speaking country.
but also, i want it to be clear that we live our words. as the aforementioned women do. that this is not rhetoric. and it is only bravado in those moments when bravado works cause nothing else will. we are not just casting ourselves in the wind. we have wings. our wings are not just our ideals. they are the shared ambitions of a people.
sometimes people look at me a little strange when i say that i want to take aza to palestine. isn’t it dangerous? yes, love is dangerous.
but how can i a survivor of the slave trade, not oppose the slave masters?