4th of July celebrates not only the Independence of United States. It celebrates the birth of fundamental human rights, the milestone for mankind to be equal in every aspect.
However, for some people in the States, independence and equality came to them a bit too late. Black American has their rights to vote in mid 60’s, almost 2 centuries after America first gained its freedom.
When we talked about equality, we talked about blues. Blues as the oldest music genre in the world also happened in America. As black American felt that their voice can only be heard from these songs. Blues is music for fighters, a song of liberation, and the unheard voices. It has accompanied America and its civilization from the cowboy era in Midwest until the era of President Obama.
Obama starts his first step to enter American political stage in Chicago, the city that has full of young and energetic people, one of the homes of blues in America. Chicago reflected the struggling, true liberation, and equality for its every citizen. These are the core value of blues.
As a metropolitan melting pot, Chicago also known as a place that has the largest Moslem community in America. In Devon Avenue at the north of Chicago almost every store and restaurant not just sells halal food, but zabihah food, means that the animals sacrificed in the name of Allah.
In Rosemont, north of Chicago, from the 1st to the 5th of July, one of the biggest Moslem expo held there, named ISNA, Islamic Society in North America. About 40,000 American Moslem attended and participated in this annual event. In ISNA they can see exhibition of Moslem products from foods, books, toys to handcraft. There are also film festivals that encourage Islamic theme, seminars about halal food from American Halal Association, and one of the most interesting things is a speed dating for fellow young Moslem, man and women that expect marriage. They called the speed dating “Matrimonial Banquet”, mean that they seek only for serious date that lead to marriage, because even for American Moslem dating is not much allowed.
From what I’ve seen in Chicago, I began to realize whether if America is a true melting pot. It is pretty fair if melting pot defined as a neighborhood that everyone there is diverse and lives together side by side. But if there is a neighborhood that not so diverse stand by the neighborhood of other community that also not diverse, can it be called the melting pot? For me personally it only creates blocks that separate each community.
Chinese have their own Chinatown where everybody speak Chinese, black American have their own Harlem where everybody listen to hip hop, and now there is Devon with its halal store everywhere.
Every immigrant must have difficulties to cope. In past time we can see problems with Irish and Italian immigrant in America. Now they seems have blend well with each other for time has dissolved their ethnical identity into American identity.
As I began questioning, I begin to understand that the question is maybe not whether they choose to live within their community or outside their community, because everybody is always looking for the common ground. Perhaps the one that I should be questioned is whether they could live outside their own community.
In ISNA I’ve met a lot of people that are very proud being a Moslem and also American at the same time. They are proud of being American Moslem. They still have their own traditional moral value but they are also professionals that are capable to communicate, making business, socialize, and blend perfectly outside their community.
Some people in America may lose their racial, ethnical, and religion identity and gained their American identity. But from what I see, Moslem community in America, especially the middle-east Moslem, have very strong bond to their traditional values and religion, and they are not willing to give it up.
It is a long and winding journey for American Moslem to keep their both identity in harmony.
From the heart of Chicago, with the 4th of July spirit, American Moslem deserves some blues plays for them, for their liberation, and the long fight ahead.