Monday, April 14, 2008


My days at blogger have come to an end. All old entries are available at the new blog address.

Please visit the new blog HERE

Friday, April 11, 2008

Murdered Pregnant Women: The Racial Divide

April 11, 2008
(CBS) By's Lindsay Goldwert

When Laci Peterson became the symbol of maternal homicide in the mass media and in the law books (the Violence Against Unborn Children Act is also known as the Laci and Connor's Law), it put a white face on the horrendous crime of maternal homicide. In reality, that face is actually young, and often, black.

Reality has been further complicated lately with two more high-profile cases of white pregnant women being killed by their boyfriends: Maria Lauterbach, a pregnant Marine whose body was found alongside her fetus' charred remains; and the guilty verdict against Bobby Cutts, a former Ohio police officer convicted of killing his pregnant girlfriend and disposing of her body in the woods. Both stories dominated the airwaves earlier this year.

Lauterbach's accused killer, also a Marine, was captured Thursday in Mexico after a three-month manhunt.

Left behind in much of the media attention is a slew of similar cases involving black women.

On June 13, 2007 Dawna Denise Wright was at her job, managing the office of a San Diego neurologist. At 2 p.m., a man came to her office bearing a bouquet of roses. "Are these for me?" she reportedly said, surprised. The man took out a gun and shot her.

Her killer was her on-and-off boyfriend, Roger McDowell, who was also the father of her 8-year-old daughter. An hour later, he confessed to the police but plead not guilty to murder charges.

Wright was three months pregnant with McDowell's child.

On Sept. 8, 2007 in Louisa, Va., Irwin Fountain, 28, was found guilty of shooting his 18-year-old girlfriend, Shantay Latrice Wheeler, 18, to death and dumping her body. Fountain, who was married at the time of the murder, had given Wheeler money for an abortion and became infuriated when he discovered that she was 8 ½-months pregnant. Her body was found in a field five months later with multiple gunshot wounds.

On February 7, 2007, Adrian Estrada, a 23-year-old San Antonio youth pastor received the death penalty for choking and stabbing 17-year-old Stephanie Sanchez to death and leaving her to bleed to death on her kitchen floor. Prosecutors said he was angry because the teenager, who told him she had been in love with him, had become pregnant with his child.

Cases of maternal homicide involving minority women are underreported and underpublicized.

According to the CDC, black women have a maternal homicide risk about seven times that of white women. Black women ages 25-29 are about 11 times more likely as white women in that age group to be murdered while pregnant or in the year after childbirth.

Experts say that a fear and mistrust of the police may lead to black women keeping silent about their suffering.

These women may be afraid that by calling the police, they may be endangering their partner.

"An abused wife or girlfriend may be hesitant to call 911 for fear that he'll be treated violently or even killed by the police," says Theryn Kigvamasud'Vashti, co-director of Communities Against Rape and Abuse in Seattle.

Mandatory arrest laws used in some states require police to make an arrest during any domestic dispute call. And if the batterer presents the situation to make it look like the wife is the initiator of the violence, she could be the one arrested. If she has children, she may fear losing them to social services.

The Bush administration's welfare reform policies spent $300 million on programs to encourage marriage among low-income couples. These programs have indirectly impacted violence in the black community, says Kigvamasud'Vasht. "That money would have been better spent on education for these women so that they could support themselves without their abusive partner."

Young Moms: A Means Of Control

According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, 324,000 women each year experience intimate partner violence during their pregnancy. Of these women, 30 percent say the first incident occurs during pregnancy. If a woman is in an abusive or controlling relationship, a pregnancy can make a relationship all the more volatile.

"The woman is more vulnerable to abuse during a pregnancy," says Katherine Von Wormer, professor of social work at the University of Northern Iowa. "She is less likely to be interested in sex. And it may be a time of high stress, economically and otherwise."

The CDC estimates that 4-8 percent of pregnant women in the U.S. are abused by an intimate partner.

For men who want to be "in control" of a relationship, an unwanted pregnancy can lead to anger and violence.

Then there are abusers who use pregnancy as a means to control their girlfriends, to keep them in a vulnerable and dependent condition.

A recent, disturbing study of 61 poor teenaged Boston-area girls of various ethnic backgrounds in abusive relationships published in the journal Ambulatory Pediatrics revealed that 26 percent had reported that their partners were actively trying to get them pregnant against their will. The girls reported that their partners manipulated their birth control or told them that they wanted them to become pregnant.

"You think of forced sex as an aspect of abusive relationships, but this takes that abuse a step further to reproductive control of a young woman's body," said study co-author and pediatrician Elizabeth Miller, M.D.

While a pregnant woman who is older might have the financial resources or support network to seek help, a younger woman may not.

“A young woman who is poor, underage and may be receiving welfare may be less likely to leave an abusive relationship,” says Eboni Colbert, co-director of Communities Against Rape and Abuse. “She may be a ward of the state, she may have no legal guardian. A young woman like that has fewer resources than a woman in her twenties or thirties.”


Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Me and The Mosque

In case some of you have never seen it, filmmaker Zarqa Nawaz, creator of the Canadian sitcom "Little Mosque on the Prairie", did a documentary on Muslim women and the mosque. Enjoy!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Muslim Male Privilege Checklist

In the spirit of B. Deutsch's The Male Privilege Checklist and Peggy McIntosh's White: Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack, I decided to create a Muslim Male Privilege Checklist. I realize these kinds of lists usually come from benefactor of privilege and not those who are disadvantaged by it. But I had to do it. Insha'allah I will keep adding to the list as I think about things.

Keep in mind I have written it from a perspective of a Muslim man...

As a Muslim man:

1. I can set foot in any masjid I like. No one will stop me at the door and tell me that I am not allowed in the masjid.

2. When I attend Jumah prayer I know that I will have full access to the main prayer hall. I can enter through the front door and I am not required to sit behind a partition, one-way mirror or placed in a separate room. Also, I can see and hear the Imam when he is giving the kutbah (sermon). I do not have to worry about a speaker or closed-circuit system malfunctioning thereby preventing me from hearing the kutbah or seeing the Imam.

3. My voice is not interpreted as being a part of my awrah (parts of the body that are not meant to be exposed in public.) I can stand up and speak freely in an Islamic gathering. I can ask questions or challenge statements made by the imam or visiting speaker without worrying that my actions will be viewed as inappropriate. I am not told that I must write any questions I have onto a piece of paper.

4. I can use my position as a sheikh, scholar or imam to perpetuate my own sexist, misogynistic beliefs as long as I incorporate those beliefs into my interpretation of the Quran and the Sunnah. When others challenge me about my beliefs I can use my Islamic education, command of the Arabic language and position in the community to effectively silence them. If the dissenters are women, I can always make them seem crazy, emotional or neurotic. I can also accuse them of being influenced by the West, Western secularism, Feminism or “the Kufaar.”

5. If I do not dress in accordance with Islamic guidelines, for the most part, I am left alone by Muslims of both genders. Few people will approach me and inquire about the way in which I am dressed. I will not be written off as a “bad Muslim” nor will my dress code be used as an excuse to prevent me from attending the masjid or other Islamic functions.

6. Interpretations of Quran and Ahadith, fatwas, kutbahs, and Islamic books are often biased in favor of my gender. The body of scholarship produced by members of my gender is available and accessible to all. Their texts, legal opinions and names have not been ignored or virtually erased from Islamic history.

7. When I read a book about marriage, my rights and responsibilities or gender dynamics in Islam, the author is almost always the same gender as me. It is the same when I wish to contact a scholar in regards to any questions I might have.

8. If I have problems in my marriage I can go to an Imam for counseling services and I don’t have to be concerned about sexism or his “traditional” views of women.

9. If I become visibly upset during a marriage counseling session, I am not told that I am too emotional and therefore incapable of thinking logically or making major decisions about my marriage. On the contrary, any decisions I make are presumed to be well thought-out.

10. If I wish to end my marriage, my decision is not scrutinized by an imam or other members of the Muslim community. It is respected as the final one. I am not denied a divorce or told to make tremendous personal sacrifices in order to remain in the marriage.

11. When I convert to Islam, if I have the means (or the financial support of others), I can travel aboard to predominately Muslim countries in order to seek Islamic knowledge. I can be sure that my gender will not be a hindrance any way. At the same time, no one will ever tell me that I must wait until I am married in order to begin my travels.

12. I can stand up for the rights Allah has given me or challenge interpretations of those rights without people associating me with secularist Muslim movements.

13. If I cannot have children or suffer from a condition that interferes with my ability to have sexual intercourse I do not have to worry about my wife taking a second husband. Even if/when she decides to divorce me I can be sure that an imam or other community members will ask her to reconsider her decision.

14. If I am struggling with the temptation to fornicate, I know that I can discuss my predicament with an Imam or other Muslim men without fear that they will think I’m lewd or promiscuous.

15. I am not a visible representative of Islam. When I interact with non-Muslim colleagues, co-workers and members of the general public they may not necessarily know that I am a Muslim. Unless I make my religion/ethnicity known, I am not subjected to a barrage of questions about Islam, Muslims and my gender’s status in the religion. (The exception here would be Muslim men who don a thobe, turban, and wear a lengthy beard. Also, brothers who clearly appear to be Indian/Pakistani or Arab in the eyes of the public).

16. When a visiting scholar/imam comes to the masjid, by virtue of the seating arrangements (men in the front, no partition between the speaker and the men), I am able to speak with him face-to-face. I do not have to worry about crossing into "the women's space" in order to ask a question or to make a comment.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Pissed Off Woman Playlist

After reading The Black Snobs post and finally realizing that I’m not alone in my love of "pissed-off-woman" or "a-woman-done-wrong" songs, I thought it would only be right for me to share my play list. (Yes, I actually have one on my mp3 player). So if you’re a woman scorned (or enjoy conjuring up your ‘inner scorn’) then I think you’ll love this one. Yep!

Beyonce "Resentment"
Shelly Thunda "Kuff"
Rihanna "Questions Exisiting"
Fantasia "I Feel Beautiful"
Lady Saw "A Just di Wuk"
Macy Gray "Okay"
Amy Winehouse "Stronger than Me"
MC Lyte "Paper Thin"
Alison Hinds "Good Morning"
Lily Allen "Smile"
Crissy D "Big Timers"
Kelly Rowland "Like This"
Keyshia Cole feat Missy Elliott and Lil Kim "Let Go"
Tanya Stephens "Can't Touch Me No More"
Kelly Clarkson "Since You've Been Gone"
Sade "Every Word"
Lady G "Run Him"
Mary J. Blige "Enough Cryin'"
Sanelle Dempster "Sucker"
Cecile "No Love Tonight"
Kelis "Caught Out There"
Macka Diamond "Tek Bun"
Janet Jackson feat Missy Elliott and P.Diddy "Son of a Gun"
Ivy Queen "Que Lloren"
Ciara "My Love"
Lady Saw feat Cecile "Loser"

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Yes, She Did (a poem)

I invoke the strength of those who did what they had to do
Who saw no other way but up
Who sacrificed and struggled against tremendous odds
They were hopeful
The fact that they were Black
And Women
Black, Poor, Women
Didn’t stop them from trying
From moving forward
It didn’t defer their dreams in any way
They moved ahead
Let the bigotry
The sexism
Roll right off their back
Kept their heads down
Kept plowing through the muck
And did it with so much class
That Black Woman style
Yes, miss lady I’ve got a piece of that resilience tucked behind these shy eyes
And while they’re mistaking my silence for weakness
I’m moving in for the kill
They’re left with their mouths hanging open
Thinking, what just happened here?
Did she just…
And I’m nodding yes.
Yes, she did.

©2008 JAMuslimah

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Party over here! (The tune I'm groovin' to)

"He crazy, I know what ya thinkin/Ribena I know what you're drinkin/Rap singer. Chain Blinger. Holla at the next chick soon as you're blinkin." LOL!!!