“Nobody can teach me who I am. You can describe parts of me, but who I am – and what I need – is something I have to find out myself.”
― Chinua Achebe, African Writer and Novelist

Achebe’s words are paramount when analyzing, reading and understanding minor-literature. One of the many reasons for minor-literature is to create and present voices of the under-represented and the silenced. It is also a political movement, as well. It is one’s need to be heard. It is one’s need to be seen. It is one’s need to be acknowledged. It is one’s need to be understood. These are the reasons for minor-literature.

As a Black-American-female, I believe it is important for my narrative to be heard, as well as the next person that is silenced or under-represented. It is this need to vocalize their everyday experiences. It has been documented in various parts of the world at various times by the minority wanting to have their voices heard and acknowledged. This is extremely moving and revolutionary. It is merely due to the fact that an individual or a group recognizes the importance of having their experiences heard.

“A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.”
― Maya Angelou

In many ways, silenced and under-represented groups are writing and creating their own space within their various cultures and societies because they have a story to tell.

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”
― Maya Angelou

And like this beautiful quote by Angelou, we all have stories that we want to tell. However, if we never tell that story then we will forever have this feeling of agony inside of us. The need of revealing your experiences is not unique to the human-experience. The oral-tradition is the oldest form of human-communication. As human-beings, we told stories orally and became story-tellers. We sat around and told the stories of those before us and those of our generation. We knew we had a story to tell and we told it. And just like those that came before us, we have an obligation to create our narratives and to make a space for every voice out there.

So, in starting off ‘minor-literature’ week, I want to start with a story that really touched me.

I recently read “Yo Soy Chicano” by: David F.Gomez. In this autobiographical piece, I found myself looking at myself in the mirror. David Gomez, a son of two Mexican-immigrants, grew up in a mostly White, working-class area in southwest Los Angeles, California.

In his early schooling, Gomez described his experience with school as being “a terribly destructive experience, for it stripped away my identity as a Mexicano and alienated me from my own people, including my parents” (6). In reading the first line of this short-story, I knew I was going to enjoy this piece of literature. For so long, I have heard how education is the end-all-be-all to having a successful life. However, Gomez’s experience(s) with school was a means of socialization by the various institutions that he would enter into for education. He continues to describe his early-schooling experience as being “predominantly White, at least 85 percent or more. The rest of us were either Mexican, Black, or Oriental, but mostly Mexican. Everything that was of value or importance in school was White and clean” (6). In helping his audience to understand the process of socialization, Gomez further stated that “the teachers either ignored our Mexican heritage completely or referred to us condescendingly as “Spanish”. At first it annoyed me to be called Spanish because Papa had strictly taught us to say, “Soy puro Mexicano” when asked what we were”. At this point in his life, Gomez was being taught at home self-confidence and the beauty of his heritage while being ignored at school because of his identity. His identity became a source of shame and interrogation by the individuals that all students would be expected to look up to- teachers. However, this was not the case. He would describe his predominate impression as being that “Mexicans had no legitimate place in the White world. If we Mexicans wanted to survive at all, we would have to become White. And I wanted to be White” (6).

As Gomez progressed in school, he would continue to describe his isolation from his Mexican-identity. To be accurate, his Chicano-identity. He remembered a time in which his mother came to pick him up from school in the third-grade and being ’embarrassed’ by his mother’s Spanish. So, one day the bell had rung to dismiss students from school and just like any other day, he would go outside to wait for his mother to pick him up. However, this day was different. Gomez’s mother came into the school, went to his class and called out, “David, apurate, te ‘stoy esperando!”. His mother wanted him to hurry because she was waiting on him, but unfortunately, he was ashamed and proceeded to tell his mother to speak English. So, at this point in the story, Gomez felt almost estranged from his native-tongue of Spanish, which was spoken at home.

In having parents with roots in Mexico, he would visit Tijuana or Mexicali. In visiting his family back in Mexico, he would further continue on in his socialization of disconnecting from his identity. In feeling disconnected from his Mexican-American identity, Gomez stated that “I became aware of feeling that what my family had to offer-language,customs, food, ways of looking at the world vacations in Baja California- was not very good in comparison with the other world in which I lived” (8). At this point in his life, Gomez definitely felt removed from his culture and thoroughly attracted to White-culture. To illustrate this point, “there was one little boy who was in the third grade with me. I wanted him to be my friend because he seemed to embody all that I admired and believed was best. He had blond hair, bright blue eyes, and rosy cheeks” (8). As a 22 years old,Black-American reader, I can definitely say that this form of socialization is detrimental. Gomez grew up in educational-institutions that taught self-hate and racial-superiority, which bred the isolation of minorities from themselves. This is still the case for many minorities, despite this story being decades old. It is this removal from one’s culture that creates self-hatred. For most young children and teenagers, school is the one place that you would spend most of your time. This is the one place in which you begin the socialization process. It can and may just break or make you.

In looking at his overall experiences, he stated that “like many Mexican American children, my experiences made a peripheral person of me. My Anglo-White experiences at school so completely conflicted with my Mexican-brown experiences at home that I rejected one for the other only to find that I couldn’t fully participate in either” (10). So, I must admit that I just wanted to hug Gomez at this point in his autobiographical piece. I just wanted to reach out and tell him that the struggle is real, but to never give up. I think many minorities and racially-mixed individuals undergo this exact same experience. It is this issue of trying to fit within dominant-society and your own reality. However, you end up finding yourself at the outskirts of these two spaces that you frequently enter and exit out of on a daily-basis. It is exactly this statement by Gomez that makes minor-literature so important. It poses serious concerns and questions about identity. Personally, I am constantly trying to obtain and strive for the ‘authentic self’ because of all of the external pressures for me to be something other than myself. At one point in my life, similar to Gomez, I hated by Blackness. I hated my hair. I hated the fact that I wasn’t White. I had even dyed my hair blonde, in order to look White. I believe at one point, I even purchased skin-lightener to get a fairer complexion. The bad part of this is how other Black people would encourage this detrimental cycle of hating your Blackness. I would be told how beautiful I was because I was light-skinned. Also, I would be told that I had ‘good’ hair and that the boys would ‘like’ and ‘love’ me. So, I would always take these words as being truth because not only was dominant-society pushing it onto minorities, but even minorities were pushing it upon each other. I never understood how socialization worked until I realized its effects upon me. On one-hand, I would be told that I wasn’t ‘Black’ enough or that I was ‘too-White’ so I struggled for a good portion of my life trying to fit in the worlds that I would enter and re-enter on a daily-basis. It creates an incomplete, fragmented, and disconnected identity. It really does. I’ve never been comfortable with this issue of trying to fit in with this or that group, but it is challenging when you’re being cornered by your own group and by dominant-society.

However, I will continue on with Mr. Gomez. To go into an excellent example of my own personal feelings about this issue of identity, he described his experience as being similar to many minorities. He stated that “I was indeed a ‘Mexican-American,’ a hyphenated person who was somehow both Mexican and American yet neither a Mexican nor an American in any clearly defined sense” (10). Many minorities and racially-mixed individuals hold similar views to Gomez. It is this sense of trying to define one’s self on one’s own terms without the interference of someone else’s definition, but it is fairly difficult. There is always this ongoing struggle to figure out one’s identity and how it works or doesn’t work. In some ways, one must decide for themselves who and what they want to be.

He continued to say that “sometimes when the brown world intruded into the White I felt divided within myself, but usually I ended up choosing the White world. Most of the time, I was simply a displaced person who, in his better moments should have realized he was trying to be someone or something he actually was not. I believed that I was White, a belief that left permanent scars on my consciousness because it uprooted me from my familia and created in me the false and deceptive impression that I was really accepted and belonged in the White world” (11).

I will let that marinade on the mind for a moment. Yes, let it just marinade for a bit. There is more to come about this issue of socialization and being marginalized.

To complete his total transformation, he stated that ” I gave many people the impression of being weak because I have been a marginal, peripheral person in dominant society for so long that unconsciously I assumed all the characteristics that the dominant group expected of me” (11)

And to completely break a person, you need not to break them down physically, but mentally. In no part of this autobiographical piece he spoke about being physically abused, but in every part of the piece he spoke about being mental-subjugation of self-hatred. He was mentally oppressed and isolated from himself.

And at the end of the piece, he graduated college and felt “I had indeed become the gabacho I so desperately wanted to be” (17).

As I read the piece and came to the end, I sat in awe. I was just taken aback. In many ways, I was reading a story about me. Yes, it is 2014, but the issue of identity is still major. Identity isn’t just about race. No, it is about the full and entire person.

So, in reading this piece of minor-literature, I felt extremely compelled to share it with others. I feel it is important to think about when we discuss issues of: class, race, nationalism, culture(s), mainstream society, and identity.

So, if you enjoyed this, then stay tuned for more minor-literature to come.

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What is Minor-Literature?

In the Fall of 2013, I took a course at my university called “East Central Europe”. It was a fascinating course and caused me to think deeply about: history, identity, culture(s), language(s) and borders. In going through the history of this part of the world, I loved the interdisciplinary-nature of the course. We looked at Europe through various lenses and from various fields of study. As an English-major, I loved the various readings we would have about: Nazism, Communism, the Intelligentsia, and etc. However, I was struck when learning about ‘minor-literature’. I’ve never heard this term until my last semester of my undergraduate-program. So, in celebration of my love for literature, I want to dedicate the next week to minor-literature.

Before starting this week on minor-literature, I will share a little background information about the advent and emergence of minor-literature.

Caveat: This was a paper I had wrote for my class. So, please refrain from getting bored with the formal-tone of the paper.

The Emergence of Minor Literature: An Analysis of “Birds” by Bruno Schulz and “Jackals and Arabs” by Franza Kafka

In the twentieth-century within East Central Europe, there emerged minor literature. Minor literature is deemed as being political since subject peoples aren’t sovereign, usually within a periphery. Additionally, this form of literature usually provokes and anticipates political action. Strikingly, this literature has a concern of the people. Minor literature stands to serve as an advocate for groups and individuals that aren’t being represented. In understanding the complexity of minor literature within twentieth-century East Century Europe, it is important to look at two writers from similar backgrounds with two different styles of writing- Bruno Schulz and Franz Kafka. In looking at the two various writing-styles of Schulz and Kafka, I will examine as a literary-critic how Schulz “Birds” and Kafka’s “Jackals and Arabs” adds to the creation of minor-literature in advocating for groups that aren’t represented within their individual societies in twentieth-century East Central Europe.
In understanding the role of minor literature in the lives of each of these writers, it is integral to understand their backgrounds and the social-issues surrounding their writings. Kafka was born in 1883 and lived until 1924. He lived a relatively sedentary life and lived most of his life in Prague. Additionally, he had lived closely with his family and could free himself from them. In his life-time, Kafka published very few of this works. His fame began in the 1930’s, but this was halted by Nazism. Most of Kafka’s writings were: existentialist, theological and modernist. Kafka was Jewish, German and Czech. He lived in the Czech Republic as a participant in German culture in the Austria-Hungary Empire. He spoken very clear and lucid German. However, most of his writings aren’t explicitly Jewish.
Similarly, Schulz was Jewish. He was born in 1892 and died in 1942. He was born in Drohobych, near Lviv, which is currently the Ukraine. Schulz did have knowledge of Kafka’s work and was influenced by Proust and Thomas Manh. Schulz was first protected by a Nazi named Landau. Additionally, Schulz mostly wrote short-stories. However, Schulz writings are different from Kafka’s in many ways. Kafka’s writings doesn’t use metaphors in a visual sense nor does Kafka use animal-fables which is seen throughout Shulz’ minor literature.
In looking at one of Kafka’s writings, the “Jackals and the Arabs” presents an interesting look at violence and its cycle. The short-story starts in the deserts of Arabia, in which a European man is approached by Jackals, talking to him in human-form about a long-standing quarrel. Kafka writes that “a swarming of jackals all around us” in relations to the European-man that was approached by this group of animals (252). In being approached by the group of Jackals, the man is told that “the north has the intelligence that is not found here among the Arabs. Not a spark of intelligence can be struck from their cold haughtiness” (Kafka, pg 253). In reading this story, critics may deem this statement as being racist and not indicative of a whole race of individuals. However, this passage written by Kafka could indicate perpetuating feelings by some Jews during this time-period. In looking at the passage above, it is important to see a form of tension that is built up within the group of jackals. In continuing within the passage, “they kill animals in order to eat them and they scorn carrion” (Kafka, pg 255). Kafka is letting readers understand at this point in the story that the Arabs are supposedly killing animals, specifically Jackals. So, the Jackals tells the European man that “…we will draw their blood and the quarrel will end” (Kafka, pg 253). In this part of the story, one may ask about the role of minor-literature and how it relates to the discord present between the Jackals and the Arabs. Kafka is known for his allegorical-style in presenting his literature, thus it is note-worthy to deduce from his readings the social-context in which he is writing in during their time-period in which he wrote a piece of literary-work. Some literary-critics would argue that Kafka is referring to the Jewish-Muslim discord while others would state that this discord would’ve been too early. However, Kafka adds within the story that the Jackals are seeking revenge and sought out the help of the European-man to avenge for the Arab’s mass-murdering of animals by stating that “…with the help of your all-powerful hands, cut their throats with these scissors” (255). This story could easily represent discord between a core and its periphery, especially in the context that the jackals felt as if their autonomy and lives were at risk. Also, one must remember that minor literature anticipates as political action and functions as a voice for the under-represented.
However, in the literary-work presented by Schulz, the chapter “Birds” in The Street of Crocodiles, presents an interesting looking at life within the periphery. Schulz’ style of composition is less-allegorical and more straight-forward than Kafka’s text, “Jackals and Arabs”. In this chapter of the novel, the audience finds a father that is becoming aloof from the family-unit as he withdraws within his own world. In order to illustrate Schulz’ difference(s) in composition, he begins the chapter by stating that “…the yellow-days of winter, filled with boredom. The rust-colored earth was covered with a threadbare, meager tablecloths of snow full of holes” (45). In this first sentence of the chapter, Schulz’ composition shows the audience the importance of imagery. In letting the audience know the mental and physical-state of the father, Schulz writes that the father “…grew more and more remote from practical affairs. When my mother, worried and unhappy about his condition tried to draw him into a conversation about business, about the payments due at the end of the month, he listened absent-minded, anxiety showed in his abstracted look” (46). In this story, the head-of-the-household was deteriorately gradually over-time. And that “at that time, we noticed for the first time father’s passionate interest in animals. To begin with, it was the passion of the huntsman and the artist rolled into one” (Schulz, pg 47). In looking at this passage specifically, Schulz differentiates himself from Kafka’s in his usage of animals. He compares the father to this child-like state. More importantly, “it soon became necessary to move my father to two rooms at the top of the house which had served as storage rooms,” thus letting the audience understand that the father was becoming less and less involved the family and this is similar to the core-periphery relationship. The periphery is indeed suffering from the influence and the lack of autonomy that most cores provide. And towards the end “a moment later, my father came downstairs- a broken man, an exiled king who had lost his throne and his kingdom” (Schulz). Schulz is allowing us to see the struggle as being an individual and even head-of-the-household within a periphery.
In concluding, these two different authors provide a look into minor-literature and its importance. It provides for under-represented individuals to gain a voice and to become political-advocates. It allows for political-action to be brought up.

Works Cited:
1. Schulz, Bruno. The Street of Crocodiles. [New York]: Penguin, 1977. Print.
2. Kafka, Franz, and Nahum N. Glatzer. Complete Stories. New York: Schocken, 1983. Print.

Upon the release of Amir Sulaiman’s “The Opening” (2013) I had to download it onto my
computer to put on repeat. Every since I’ve discovered spoken-word I’ve enjoyed
listening to Amir Sulaiman’s poetry. I had first saw Amir Sulaiman perform
“She’d Prefer A Broken Neck…” for Russel Simmon’s Def Jam Poetry. After
listening to his poetry online, I knew I had to keep myself updated on any new
poems from him. Sulaiman’s poetic-style is raw, spiritual, real, and truthful. I
personally believe that Sulaiman could carry a whole night of poetry alone
without anyone introducing him or closing the show. If I ever had the chance to
see Sulaiman live I would most definitely purchase a ticket. Sulaiman’s poetry
is very much in your face and without apologies. It penetrates you straight in
the heart. It makes you think about many issues within the world around you.

On his new album, “The Opening”, Sulaiman offers listeners with an uprising of words set aflame. The whole album is a favorite of mines, but there are certain tracks on the album that leaves me pressing repeat. One of the tracks I have enjoyed from day one is “Come To The Hills” feature Drea Nur. Actually, this is the last track to the album and it leaves you
questioning many things. It definitely stirs up a sense of uneasiness in your
soul. Sulaiman brings up Emmit Till and his death along with the emasculation of
great Black men in history. He compared and contrasted the realities of the past
with the realities of today. Sulaiman discussed the harsh-realities facing
Blacks and the mentalities of current Blacks in American-society. There is
definitely alot of testerone on this track. In listening to this track, I think
about the present music that many Black-artists produce in American-society and
I weep. Alot of the present mainstream music produced within rap and hip-hop is
demeaning, materialistic, and unrealistic. There is a removal of reality being
presented in alot of mainstream music. In listening to Sulaiman’s spoken-word
piece, I think about the Black female-presence and how it interacts with the
Black-male. The majority of the track centers around the emasculation of the
Black-male and the history of the past. Not only does the track center around
the emasculation of the Black-male, but Sulaiman looks at the climate of current
politics for Black-males in America. The track leaves the listener questioning
the current generation’s response to its past history along with generations to
follow. Of course, this is interpretive and just from my own analysis.

As you peruse your way through the album, you may find yourself sitting within your thoughts. It’s okay. There’s nothing to worry about…for right now. Sulaiman created an award’s praiseworthy album in my book. Every single track on the album discusses heart-wrenching truths and realities that many people shy away from. I will definitely say that the album is political and revolutionary.

So, what are the main topics throughout the album? I would have to list off a few topics:
*The place for race and its relevance in American-society
* What is masculinity
* Is the artist the same as his/her art?
* The role of death in our lives
* Faith
* Love
* Pain
* Identity
and more.

There’s alot to take away from the album and there’s more to be analyzed, but this is just a brief analysis on one of the tracks that I’ve enjoyed personally. The album will provoke many questions and will stir-up some unruly conversations in social-gatherings about many of the topics I listed above. The album is definitely an opening to something bigger than just words on Sulaiman’s notepad.

Here’s the link to the full-album: https://amirsulaiman.bandcamp.com/album/the-opening

If anyone is interested in discussing the album, let me know! It’s worth having dialogue about in the near future.

The Ultimate Question is: Who Are You and Have You Found Yourself?

As individuals, we are always changing. We are the sum of all of our experiences. Who you are now is the result of everything that has happened to you and everything you’ve been through in life. So, what does this mean? Well, it means that we are complex people. We aren’t just one experience. We aren’t just one event. We’re all of them. So, take a step back and see what you’ve become. The question of “who am I” is really hard for all of us. If we were to take out time to honestly answer this question than we may find ourselves stumbling to get a definite answer. It’s quite okay. This question isn’t easy. It isn’t supposed to be for anyone. However, if you find this question easy than you may have figured out the secret of life. Life is complicated and scary. There’s many things that remain unanswered, but we continue seeking those answers. And we enjoy the process of finding those answers. In looking at ourselves and who we are…there’s pain. For many of us, there is pain and struggle. Why? Well, we are all undergoing our own journeys in life. These journeys will look different from one person to another. So, don’t feel compelled to look in the same mirror as your best-friend because there are things that I am sure that your closest of friends may have never told you about. So, don’t be so quick to compare. This isn’t an exercise for comparing and contrasting our lives with others. Just take the hand that you’ve been dealt and enjoy the journey that you’re in for.

For some of us, we are very happy with who we are and what we’ve become as individuals. On the other hand for some, we are still looking in the matter at an image of shattered pieces. So, keep finding yourself, inshALLAH.

Live your life with truth and integrity. Never seek anything else. It’s all about seeking truth and when you find it than keep it. Never let it go.

“If you lose your integrity, you will also lose your identity, your sensitivity and your dignity. Integrity is honesty, modesty and security in all kinds of weather. It should be our priority!”
― Israelmore Ayivor

Let the one that guides Guide you in your affairs. Truly, in He is the truth. He holds all Truths. So, keep seeking the truth of He that has placed breath into your body.

Alhumdulilah. All Praise Be To He Above the Heavens and The Earth.

Dealing with Identity: Who are you? Are you REALLY You?

A question I am thinking about is this: “What does it mean to be you?”

Let’s think about that for a second. People think about this. Some people may not care, but its a big question. Who are you? What makes you the person you are? What does it mean to be the person that you are? If you’re from there are you expected to be like that? If you’re from here are you expected to be like this? If you’ve done that then are you expected to go through that? What does it mean to be a mother? What does it mean to be a mother when you never had a mother there to teach or guide you? What does it mean to be a father? What does it mean to be a father when your father was everything except for a father? What does it mean to be a Muslim? Does it mean you fit into a stereotypical role that one think they should play in order to be accepted within their communities? What does it mean to be a Muslim man/a Muslim woman? Does it mean you drop your culture/your language in order to pick up something else? What does it mean to be a woman/a man? What does it mean to be with another person in a marriage? Does it mean must be exactly alike?

In dealing with these big questions on identity, it is important to figure them out. Yes, there are more questions to be asked about identity so ask them. Ask yourself. Sometimes we fall into these superficial roles of just being who we are told to be. We just do what culture tells us. We just do what others expect of us. However, who are we? Am I really me? Or am I just what I was told to be? Or am I the person I want people to think I am? Am I putting on a front? Or am I really me? Am I really the person I am choosing to be? And how do I choose to be that person? What things make me who I am? And is that okay? Or not? These questions are all dealing with you. These questions are dealing with me. These questions are dealing with all of us. We can choose who we want to be. No other person can make that choice, but you. You are the author and the composer of your own life. You are the individual pulling out the pen and marking up your own sheet of paper. You are putting the notes down to this sheet of music. You are the lyricist to that song. This is you. You are the one holding the pen to that piece of paper. So, ask yourself “Who am I?”. In asking myself this question, I thought about something my mother told me this morning.

Today, my mom was like “Lauren, I don’t think marriage is about the man doing one thing and the woman doing another. Sometimes you have to do multiple things at once” and I agreed with her. So many times I would always say how simple things were. Allah said the man is the breadwinner and so the woman should worry about the home. However, what does this statement mean? In the Islamic tradition, Hagar was left with just her son Ishmael in Mekkah fending for herself after prophet Abraham left her due to Allah’s command. So, at that moment she became a woman having to protect, provide and maintain for herself and her child. She became independent. She became every role possible because it was necessary. So, when we think about the people we are and the role(s) we are expected to put on it is important to think critically about this. We sometimes try to simplify our identities when they are constantly changing and intersecting with one another.

How does a young father in his early 20’s that hasn’t spoken to or been with his daughter for the first three years of her life deal with his own child upon seeing her for the first time? What does he say? What would be the reaction(s) of his baby-girl? How does he raise her upon his religion when the parent she spends time with is of another faith? How does he mend these realities? Is there a black-and-white answer? Should there be?

How does a mother in her early 30’s deal with the issues of identity when she has two children with a third on the way? How does she mend her broken past pains and confusion of who she is with her current situation? How does this soul-searching mother with a broken heart find her way in parenting children when the world has taken her heart and placed upon it it’s footprints of oppression and devastation?

How does a young woman in her 20’s deal with the issue of marriage and fornication when her parents are wanting her to finish school until taking that next step in her life? Does she continue to fight for her right to get married to preserve her honor and chastity? Or does she fall into her desires? Should she find a hobby?

How does a young man in his later teenage-years find purpose when he is blinded by the world and without a role-model to guide him through this journey of life? How do he mend the world of those around him with the reality of the world in which he lives? How does he find himself when his parents are struggling to survive and with a father that never taught him the roles/the rules of manhood? Does he find this manhood in music/a textbook/movies/magazines/ads on billboards?

What do an older woman in her 50’s do when her daughters encounter the same issues she is facing? How does this mother in her 50’s tell her daughters that their roles as women and wives aren’t simple and pinpointed in a manual? How does she guide her daughters as wives when she is still fighting the issues they are trying to solve themselves?

What does a man/woman do when they are stuck between their religion and their ethnic/cultural identity? Is this a problem? How do they sort through this? Is there really a problem between the two? How do they find themselves within this religious-community when they are expected to play out an identity that is not them? How do they sustain their inner-most being when those within the religious-community are fighting against them due to ignorance/racism/sexism? How do they go forth? How do they fight for their right to stay and be themselves without having to assimilate(to fit in/take on the identity of the people)? Should they risk being different and make their own mark or just fit in until there is progress?

When we look at the different problems that some of us face when it comes to identity it is important to look closely at ourselves. Why do many of us try to define definite roles to ourselves and others? When we look at the roles that we have to play as people it becomes hard and sticky. We can’t always play one role. We can’t always play two. Sometimes we have to play other’s roles. What do we do when we find ourselves playing another person’s role(s)? Is this okay? Is this problematic? Where do we begin if we are trying to figure this out?

Many times people tell us to stay in our place. To not think too much about things. To simply accept our roles and leave it at that. There are no questions. We should just sit and follow through with culture/religion without thinking further. Why is this an okay answer? One thing that Allah tells people is to ponder his signs and to look around. We are told to think and to use our reasoning skills. We should look at the world we live in and think about the various identities that makes it up. In these various identities there people from different backgrounds, races, cultures, languages and lifestyles. We have to sit down and ask ourselves the bigger questions that no other person can answer for us. It is only us when we come across these questions with answers that we can only give. It’s not the responsibility of others to show us who we are. It is only us to discover us and what it means to be us. Yes, we are inspired and influenced by others, but we have to know about us. We have to be sure in who we are or else we will never be okay with just thinking we think we think we think we know who we are. We have to atleast be okay with ourselves and acknowledge that as long as we are in the world we will continue to grow as people, inshALLAH.

And I think it is important to remember something and that something is a quote from Louis Armstrong.

Louis Armstrong said “What we play is life”