Los Nenes At My Mother’s Table


I already wrote a heart rant over at VivirLatino sharing my thoughts on the contrived controversy around the Park 51 community center/mosque. Pero in the days following that post, in NYC, where I was born and bred (and have bred) things have gotten from hateful to horrific with violent anti-Islamic words and thoughts turning to violence.

First there was the attempted murder (because really when you slash someone’s throat you want to kill them) of a cab driver when he acknowledged his Muslim faith.

Then someone stumbling into a mosque in Queens and desecrating that house of worship with words and foul actions.

This last act of anti-Islamic hate really got me because when I first heard the news, I didn’t know where in Queens the mosque was and my concern was for the mosque just blocks away from my mother’s apartment, the mosque where nearly all of my tutoring students worship almost daily.

Those that follow me on twitter and facebook know that my tutoring is source of great stress, but those of you who also know me in person, know how much I value the young men and women, the children with whom I work almost daily. I don’t just do test prep with them. I don’t just reinforce skills and good habits. I don’t just push them, I try to fill in alot of the gaps. This is why I call what I do “radical tutoring” because I want to inspire them to do more than asked, to see themselves as part of communities and be accountable and hold others accountable.

It has been at my mother’s kitchen table where I have had young Muslim women discuss sexuality, assault, violence and harassment, some of it personally experienced by them, some of it because they are Muslim.

This latest hate act didn’t happen in the mosque where my students worship in fact, it seemed that the older students were not even aware of the rhetoric surrounding the community center in Downtown Manhattan and the actual violence that was targeting those that could be read as Muslim.

The header above was taken from a story in the latest New York Magazine. The title struck me as ridiculous and plain ole fucked up. Did the title refer to Muhammad, the great prophet of Islam? As if before there were no practicing Muslims in New York City/Manhattan? Or were they taking a more general and somewhat stereotypical portrayal of the followers of Islam? The article itself reads as a fluffy conversation with various opinions presented and the writer not taking one of his own but the title bothered me. I showed it to one of my High School students. She laughed at first, finding it silly. Then she looked at me earnestly, “Well, I’m not really a Muslim Muslim”.

And my heart broke a little.

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