By James Morgan
First it was the disappearance of a number of mostly Somali immigrants and first generation American teenage boys from their Minnesota homes and mosques. Then, it was four men in the Bronx, New York. And most recently, a young man in Little Rock Arkansas. Oh, let us not forget the two Beltway Snipers from 2002 and, “just for kicks” we will include the “Somali Pirates” (a number of whom happen to be the same missing young men described above). It seems like every so often there are Black, Muslim men and boys turning against America and joining up with the jihadist or attempting to insight there own jihads right here in the United States.

The question I ask is why?

At the time of this writing I feel like I am the only person who has noticed this trend although, I certainly hope that I am not. Why does it seem that Black men (born in America and abroad) are joining up with jihadist? My theory is that even in the age of President Barack Obama the African population (continental and Diaspora included), males in particular are still alienated by American domestic and foreign policy. Although there are Black faces in high positions in America the over-all agenda still seems to not be one where Black people can live on our own terms.

I feel that even though Soledad O’Brien has done her first and second Black in America specials, even though white women all over the country are fawning over Michelle Obama’s ebony arms and even though Barack Obama is currently the second most popular Black man behind Jesus of Nazareth (Yeah, I said it) there is still a section of Black identity that the rest of the world cannot look in the eye. In my Africana Studies classes at Howard University we would call this sub-section “Maroonage”.

Although there exist many different perspectives for this term for the purposes of this writing I will define it as “the ways in which an oppressed people attempt to live on there own terms and/or bring about a quality of life they see as being just”. When many people in America and abroad see these acts of violence (which on the surface seems indefensible) they see murderous madmen obsessed with a cult dedicated to the unjustified end of the American way of life. That’s what they are, right?

Wrong! As stated above I am not here to defend or endorse the murder of anyone, however I am here to ask questions, give possible solutions and pose possible reasons why so many Black men have been taking part in these types of actions. Increasingly, it has become apparent to me that many in the public sphere, outside (and even inside) of the Black community do not understand what, why and how the global African community identifies itself with politically and culturally. While our community is no monolith there are certain trends that can be seen if our community is viewed correctly. America owes undeniable debts to both Africa and her children that have not been paid, even though we have sent plenty of notices.

The African immigrant community and the African Muslim community are two of the most ignored demographics in America in the opinion of this author. On September 11, 2001 when many people thought about Muslims and Islam they saw images of Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden, however I saw (and still see) Malcolm X, the Nation of Islam. I also saw, and still see my own Muslim friends and family whom I have known literally my whole life. All religious studies that I am aware of show that Islam is by far the fastest growing religious affiliation around the world (the western hemisphere included). However what does not always get publicized is the fact that literally half of all practicing Muslims and Muslim converts in the western hemisphere are of African descent.

To my non-Black, non-Muslim readers I pose a question: “Can you imagine what it is like to be a Black, male, Muslim in 2009, especially with the political climate the way it is?” Can you imagine what kind of alienation one can feel, especially if one does not live in a very tolerant community?

I argue that if America continues on the course it has been on (which I hope it will not, taking into account President Obama’s background) that it will be dealing with a much more radicalized population both here and abroad. While I do not defend the actions of these individuals, I do not believe that they were completely unfounded or illogical.

America has to wake up and ask itself a question “Should the Black community be loyal to America?” An honest answer to this question is one I feel, that many in the American public sphere fear. To my reader of African descent I ask you to look into the history and current status of our people worldwide and ask yourself “Are we loyal to America out of general love for this country or out of a state of political and economic duress?” An honest answer to this question may scare you most of all.

James Morgan is a contributing writer to and a student at Howard University. You can reach him at jrmorgan919 at

James Morgan is a contributing writer to and a student at Howard University.

Author’s note: This writing is in no way intended to be an endorsement of the actions described. It is merely intended to find the root cause of this growing issue of public safety and Black male image, and worldview. I am also seeking to present a balanced view on a trend I see growing before the mainstream media and the government begin presenting it in a false and ideologically slanted light. This writing is also inspired by my reading of Michael Gomez book “Black Crescent: The Experience and Legacy of African Muslims in the Americas”.