An exclusive interview by Aviva Stahl
Tell me a little bit about David was like growing up.
(In Alicia McCollum’s words): [Beginning cut off] David grew up without a father… this family is run by women, not men. We don’t have male role models for the young men in our family… There’s like fifteen nephews. The women, we do the best we can with what we got.
How do you think that affected [David]?
I believe all young men, especially… people of colour, need a strong role model. When you look at the 1940s and 50s, how the family unit stayed together, and how fathers stayed in their lives back then and showed the men what it is to work and to be responsible and planted positive seeds in their life… You don’t see that in the culture anymore, in our culture, in African American culture anymore. So it’s women who are in the forefront, holding everything down, taking care of the household, without a male figure. And you look at the difference between this generation now, and then when the drugs and the crack era hit our community… When you look at the dividedness around the male figures, that piece is missing. When you watch grandpa, you watch granddad, you watch your father have a work history… when you don’t see that anymore, in our culture, and you see very few. And that plays a hell of a role on our men growing up.
Could you tell me about [David’s] conversion to Islam?
Well, David was introduced to Islam when he went to Newburgh. His grandmother has been in the Muslim community for years. David was introduced when he was about eight. He was introduced to it but he never really took it seriously, he went and became a drug dealer. When he got incarcerated, I think he took it up. Most men, when they become incarcerated, they don’t want to join gangs, so a lot of them go to the Islamic in prison, because it’s peaceful, and they’re going to watch your back….
Most men, when they do go to jail and become Muslims, while they’re in there, when they come home it’s a different tune. It’s because they wanted to be protected by Muslims when they were in there, while they were incarcerated. But for David, he was introduced was he was eight. He believes in it, he considers himself a Muslim, and I believe him. He came home and said he was a Muslim, and I said, “Okay”. We’ve never had a discussion about Muslim versus Christianity, or my god versus his god, we never had discussions on that magnitude. Read the rest of this entry »