Remembering Maryam Sharron Muhammad: 1972-2018
It is with great sadness that we regretfully share that our beloved daughter, sister and friend, Maryam Sharron Muhammad, has passed away after collapsing in her home upon her return from work.
Sharron was a truly beautiful and brilliant spirit and will be deeply missed.
A seeker of truth and a striver for excellence, Sharron never lost sight of her goals. She was a doctoral student and also held degrees from Howard University (M.A.) and the University of Toledo (B.A.), both with high honors. Additionally, she completed three years of medical school at the University of Illinois--Chicago and was the recipient of numerous academic fellowships and honors. Sharron was a world traveler, a Peace Corps volunteer, mentor to countless youth, contributor to scholarly publications, writer of creative works and a published author of an Afrofuturistic novel under her pen name S.R. Sarai.
A tireless advocate for the study and dissemination of African History and Central Asian topics, Sharron always pressed forward, leaving her mark on the world with a never-ending commitment to bring truth to light.
Profoundly spiritual, Sharron respected all religions as she sought the qualities that all people share from the Universal Source. She studied, honored and respected African and Native American religions, Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism and Hinduism.
Sharron remained caring, vibrant and high-achieving even as she endured many challenges. Following a traumatic injury suffered in the Peace Corps in 2003 and a subsequent mental health diagnosis, Sharron wrestled with major mental illness for the duration of her life. In spite of the immense struggle to get competent and compassionate healthcare, Sharron never let illness define her and never stopped striving for excellence.
At the time of her transition, she was employed at Adventist Health and prepared this article for publication in this journal.
The African American and African Asian "Overmother"
"Overmothering" is defined by Patricia Hill Collins and Stanlie M. James as taking responsibility for siblings and then helping other children. When a woman "overmothers" herself, she takes on adventures that propel her to the forefront of the evolutionary march. All founding mothers exemplify "overmothering." The founding maternal line was fundamental to African society; thus mother was the qaeda of the Indian and Atlantic African Diaspora. (1) Mothering was far more important than the competition that enslavement forced upon populations because African communities relied upon descent from mythical or heroic ancestors. Overmothering may be regarded as foundation of the Black Diasporan's journey to self-realization--the point at which a Black woman embarked upon a quest for physical or psychological freedom. Her search for freedom is as much for her next of kin as it is for herself. Cheryl Deborah Williams describes the movement of Black women in the Afro-Atlantic Diaspora as fugitive, activist, or courteous. (2) Nancy Prince and Mai Mishra offer two examples of the Diasporan African adventuress taking control of her destiny in the framework of the activist traveler.
The Afro-Asian Diaspora
The beginnings of the Afro-Asian Diaspora have been situated up to 50,000 years ago. The Bible also describes Ethiopian and Egyptian troop movements in ancient Israel. However, the modern diaspora was almost completely defined by slavery and connected West, Central and South Africa with Asia, Europe, South and North America. It began in the Biblical era, but the majority of the Diasporans departed after the rise of Islam in the seventh century. By the time the Atlantic Triangular Trade was established hundreds of thousands of Africans had crossed the Red Sea, Indian Ocean and Arabian sands as soldiers, enslaved people, and merchants. Examining the tiny Mascarene Islands gives an idea of the extent to the Indian Ocean slave trade in an era comparable to the Atlantic. The sources for the African trade in the Mascarenes consist of ship declarations also called declarations d'arrivees and colonial archival records; records were composed by negotiants. 641 trading voyages were made between the Mascarene Islands between 1768 and 1809. The nations involved were the French and Dutch. The Dutch traded African, Indian and Indonesian enslaved people in two directions, thus international commerce provided the opportunity for women from multiple backgrounds to form networks. Because eighteenth and nineteenth century arrivals were mixing with populations that already had African ancestry, usually from the same regions that the enslaved departed from, cultural fusion must have been relatively easy. In an area as small as the islands off the coast of eastern Africa, Black women of both African and Asian descent may have noted similarities of practice, belief and even clothing style. (3) However, in a culture in which enslaved women were largely paced in the domestic sphere, enslaved Africans and Asians must have contended fiercely for favors from the elite such as education for their children, succession rights for their sons, access to Qur'anic or Biblical studies, credit and tenant rights.
African women who migrated eastwards practiced a multitude of religions. Christianity had spread as far south as the modern United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Christianity had also spread as far south as Mecca where a Christian icon had been placed in the Kaaba and five bishoprics were established on the eastern shore of Arabia. Islam had been practiced in the region since the mid-sixth century. Judaism had been practiced in the region for millennia. A female religion called kuubandwa was practiced in East Africa. East African women were familiar with Mwana Mwem and Fatuma who had been queens of Zanzibar and Mwana Khadija of Pate. The Ethiopian queen mother was a powerful figure and the ladies, queen and wives followed the armies. (4)
Women had been abducted from the Cote d'Afrique, Kilwa, Lindi, Mafia, Mombasa, Mongale, Mouttage and Zanzibar. Ethnicities included Ambanivolo, Ambalambo, Andrantsay, Antaisaka, Antalaotra, Antanosy, Antasimo, Hehe, Betanimena, Maninga, Marvace Sakalava, Bisa, Ekoti, Kamanga, Lolo, Makonde, Makua, Maravi, Mrima, Yao, Ngindo, Nyambe, Nyamwezi, Sagara and Sena. (5) The Battle of Antietam fought on September 17, 1862 may have reflected an African ethnos enslaved on Mauritius known as Antateime. (6) Other ethnicities were Betsileo and Hova (Merina).
Southeast Asians enslaved in the Mascarenes were Balinese, Javanese, Malay, Sumatran, Timorese, etc. The laborers were the cog in the wheel that held together the economy of the...