The Light at the End of the Tunnel (Part 2)

MELANET UnCut Chat and Discussion: MelaNet UnCut Talk: The Light at the End of the Tunnel (Part 2)
By #Forwarder# Ahmed A. ( - on Friday, July 27, 2001 - 03:17 pm:


The Light at the End of the Tunnel (Part 2)

by Tavis Adibudeen

At the age of eleven, Islam was introduced to me for the first time,
although very briefly. In middle school we studied various cultures in
my social studies classes. I only learned that "Muhammad was the
prophet of Islam, and Muslims prayed five times a day." I didn't learn
anything else. I did know of some famous Muslims such as boxer
Muhammad Ali and basketball player Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, but I knew
little about them. It was, however, the same year that Kareem played
his last basketball game before retiring. This was also the first real
extensive amount of time I spent in a normal public school with normal
classes and normal kids. I was suddenly not special anymore. I was not
in higher classes than other kids anymore. It was as though I had to
start over for no reason, but it exposed me to a wider variety of
people. I became more in touch with people who looked like me. Middle
school had many more African Americans (due to busing children) than I
had ever seen outside of my old neighborhood. I also began to realize
things about white teachers and students. I had only read about racial
discrimination until now. Suddenly, I was growing up, and teachers
began to treat me like a "black male" instead of a student. This only
made me realize other things about my religion. I began to wonder why
all the pictures of Jesus (ahs) were pictures of a white man. Why was
the son of God a white man? This seemed to indicate that black people
were inferior to white people. Strike two.

As I progressed through Middle School, I became more aware of our
differences. Blacks and Whites almost totally segregated themselves.
It seemed as if all the things I read about were still happening. The
more that white people did and said things that were mean and
offensive to me, the harder I found it to love the son of God. I began
to rationalize wondering if this white man was as racist as the white
men with which I came in contact were. It came to the point where I
almost became militant. My grades began to fall as my black friends
and I found little interest in the white school system. It seemed as
though it wasn't meant to teach us at all. We were excluded from
history books and literature books. When we did achieve things, it was
played down by the white teachers. By the time I reached the eighth
grade, I didn't even want to step one foot into a church. Ironically,
it was about this time that I met the minister that had a different
approach to Christianity. His teachings were more understandable and
down to earth. I still found it hard, though. This was because he was
saying one thing, yet the things and people around him said another.
It was nearly required that you dress up for church. People talked
about people if they didn't or couldn't dress as nicely as they did.
It was a fashion show. Most of the time was spent singing, or so it
seemed. I didn't see the point in singing, but it was beautiful when
done correctly. I could not, however, deal with the fashion show. We
became the models as we walked down the aisle. Gossip constantly
circled about people in and outside the church. The things that I
didn't like about the world outside of church suddenly seemed to be a
part of the church. Strike three.

It was at this time, my freshman year in high school that I declared I
would never go to church again. I saw it as stupid and pointless. I
didn't feel comfortable there. Instead it felt like I was in a theater
and the minister, my friend, was on stage. If he performed well he'd
get paid and keep the seats filled. If he didn't, his fate would
resemble the two before him. As if almost by fate, I first became
aware of the religion called Islam. I had a friend in my English class
who was a Muslim. After all this time, this was the first time I had
come in contact with a Muslim. He mostly talked about the things that
Muslims did. I listened, but I really didn't show much interest in it.
He never really said what their beliefs were, and I never asked. At
age 15 I met another guy who was just a militant as I, if not more.
I'll call him MC. MC was the first person to ever tell me how bad pork
really was.
My mother, raised in the south, naturally cooked a lot of it. We had
bacon, ham, sausage, hot-dogs, ribs, and she even ate chitterlings
(pig intestines). It didn't take long for me to give up pork totally.
I realized how damaging it could be to my health, but I also realized
something deeper. So many black people eat pork because it was the
meat that white slave masters didn't want, so they gave the scraps to
the black slaves. It became a regular food for our culture. It is no
wonder that black people have a higher rate of heart attacks and high
blood pressure that whites. When I read deeper beneath the surface, MC
helped me also realize that the Bible actually said that people were
forbidden from eating the flesh of swine. Furthermore, other things,
such as alcohol, fornication, adultery, and gambling were also
forbidden, yet many Christians did it anyway. Luckily, I had never
done any of that stuff. My parents and my early Noah's Ark teachers
had told me not to do that. That, however, did not
necessarily apply to them.

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