ChickenBones: A Journal
for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes
Do Me Twice is the triumphant life story of the highly intelligent, courageous, and charismatic
Sonsyrea Tate as she breaks the cultural and religious molds set in place by her upbringing
A Memoir by Sonsyrea Tate
Reviewed by Kam Williams
The story I must tell in order to be transformed is the story of my coming outout of Islam, out of my parents house, out of traditional choices, out of conventional thinkingin a way, out of my mind. . . . This is a story I need to tell as much as the world suddenly needs to know more about Muslim women behind the veil. . . . I began questioning Islam by the time I was twelve, and by the time I was twenty-one I was sure Islam was not for me. My transformation out of Islam coincided with my coming of age as an African-American woman, and the story of that transition is a story I feel compelled to share. . . . I need to tell the story that shows Im no forsaken sinner because I turned from Islam. Thank God in America, so called apostates arent executed or imprisoned as they are in some Muslim countries. But for years I was afraid Allah would reach down from heaven and strike me dead for leaving Islam.Excerpted from the Introduction (pages 1-3)
Until the age of 18, Sonsyrea Ray-Ray Tate was essentially raised in the Nation of Islam, although the Black Muslim sect would change its name and philosophy several times over that time span. This could prove to be very confusing for a child who first had it ingrained in her head that all white people were devils, before being taught that theyre not devils, and then, oops, they are in fact devils after all. Her mandated clothing and spiritual rituals also underwent revisions intermittently, which might understandably take a toll when one is expected to follow a flip-flopping path on faith alone.
But apparently far more damaging than the dogma was the hypocrisy young Ray-Ray witnessed in her family members and others whose behavior bore little resemblance to what was dictated by the Koran. For example, her father got arrested, did drugs and wasnt much of a provider. Furthermore, he failed to protect his daughter at a critical stage in her development, instead allowing her to date and ultimately marry an ex-con who had converted to Islam behind bars.
Theres a saying, The convert tends immediately to revert, and this is precisely what Sonsyrea discovered in her louse of a spouse, Ronald Bates. Like a typical teenage girl, against her better judgment, she initially found herself attracted to this bad-boy who not only had robbery and attempted murder on his rap sheet but already had fathered a child with another woman.
The problem was that as a Muslim female, Ray-Ray had been trained to be deferential, and that, at 18, she ended up marrying this loser who didnt even have a job. And by the time she finally wised up and dumped him she was also totally disillusioned with her religion. Making a break from her hubby and everything familiar, Sonsyrea struck out on her own, putting herself through college and landing a job at the Washington Post.
Meanwhile, she simultaneously began acting out rebelliously, smoking weed and indulging indiscriminately in recreational sex, as if belatedly making up for time frittered away under veils and long dresses during the repressive days of her lost youth. Ultimately, however, she did get her act together, and is now happily remarried and the editor-in chief of the Washington Informer.
This is the engaging arc of Do Me Twice: My Life after Islam, as revealing a memoir as youre ever going to get from a sister whos abandoned the Nation of Islam. What makes talented Ms. Tates warts-and-all autobiography so riveting is that shes both a gifted writer and willing to be brutally honest in revisiting a rough life marked by perhaps more downs than ups.
Whether discussing her doubts about Islam, her resentment of Muslim womens second-class status, losing her virginity, getting high, visiting a male strip club, having a lustful liaison with a stranger, being raped by her first husband, visiting him in jail or learning that his mistress is nine-months pregnant, the author is always in touch with her feelings and unafraid to recount her rawest emotions with the reader.
All the fixins for a poignant page-turner.
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Sonsyrea Tate has shared mile marker thoughts along the way to wholeness. In her new provocative book, Tate challenges religion and relationships. She clears the way to revolutionary, radical forgiveness, but most of all, she forces us to rethink ideas we have taken for granted. Her journey may not be yours, her conclusions may not be your own, but her words and thoughts are well worth your deepest contemplation. It is clear that she is not a woman to be ignored!
Bishop T.D. Jakes Sr. This book is Sonsyrea Tate’s triumphant shout testifying to a life filled with grace and courage. It is a testimony for anyone who has to fashion her own life from the legacy of burdens and encouragement handed down by parents, by culture, by religion and by society. In other words, this is a story about becoming fully human and living life out loud — on your own terms.
Patrice Gaines, author of Laughing in the Dark From the highly acclaimed author of Little X: Growing Up in the Nation of Islama taboo-breaking memoir about a Muslim girl who explores her freedom through the expression of her sensuality and sex, defying the cultural boundaries that denied her a full life.
Do Me Twice is the triumphant life story of the highly intelligent, courageous, and charismatic Sonsyrea Tate as she breaks the cultural and religious molds set in place by her upbringing. A former African-American Muslim, Tate has raised awareness for that community by bringing personal and enlightening answers to a curious audience.
Who are African-American Muslims? What do they stand for and why? How far-reaching are their lifestyle choices? With the global focus on terrorism and interest in the Islamic state, readers are hungry for answers that aren’t influenced by government spin or newscast ratings. They will find those answers here.
Do Me Twice inspires young women while exploring Tate’s conscious separation from Islam, her abusive husband, and the prejudices and stereotypes set on her by others’ misconceptions.Publisher
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By Russell Simmons
Russell Simmons knows firsthand that wealth is rooted in much more than the stock market. True wealth has more to do with what’s in your heart than what’s in your wallet. Using this knowledge, Simmons became one of America’s shrewdest entrepreneurs, achieving a level of success that most investors only dream about. No matter how much material gain he accumulated, he never stopped lending a hand to those less fortunate. In Super Rich, Simmons uses his rare blend of spiritual savvy and street-smart wisdom to offer a new definition of wealth-and share timeless principles for developing an unshakable sense of self that can weather any financial storm. As Simmons says, “Happy can make you money, but money can’t make you happy.”
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By Michele Alexander
Contrary to the rosy picture of race embodied in Barack Obama’s political success and Oprah Winfrey’s financial success, legal scholar Alexander argues vigorously and persuasively that [w]e have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it. Jim Crow and legal racial segregation has been replaced by mass incarceration as a system of social control (More African Americans are under correctional control today… than were enslaved in 1850). Alexander reviews American racial history from the colonies to the Clinton administration, delineating its transformation into the war on drugs. She offers an acute analysis of the effect of this mass incarceration upon former inmates who will be discriminated against, legally, for the rest of their lives, denied employment, housing, education, and public benefits. Most provocatively, she reveals how both the move toward colorblindness and affirmative action may blur our vision of injustice: most Americans know and don’t know the truth about mass incarcerationbut her carefully researched, deeply engaging, and thoroughly readable book should change that.Publishers Weekly
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From The World and Africa, 1965
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posted 28 August 2007