Raza Islamica: Prisons, Hip Hop & Converting Converts
27 Pages Posted: 3 Aug 2010 Last revised: 1 Sep 2021
Date Written: February 11, 2013
The interface of prisons, hip hop music, and Islam is a complicated subject. However, when closely examined, patterns begin to emerge, and predominantly, how scores of African Americans, and growingly Latinos arrive at mainstream Islam. The journey is a familiar script: It begins with a marginal, often racialist understanding of “Islam” that transforms into a universal, colorblind conception of it, as exemplified in the lives of many high-profile Muslims, most significantly Malcolm X. This colorblind vision of the world is where the Raza Islamica is born, a world where Islam is the key ingredient of identity — nothing matters more than the shared belief in Allah and his prophet Muhammad — not even color of one’s skin. The following article theorizes this “double conversion,” whereby converts abandon the marginal for the mainstream, but they never abandon Islam.
Keywords: Islam, Prisons, Hip Hop, Rap, Five Percent, Nation of Islam, Raza, Conversion
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