Interview with Sonia Sanchez
QUESTION 21
INTERVIEWER:

Okay, if you can give me a sense of protection and kind of lack of crime in the area around the mosque?

SONIA SANCHEZ:

What, what the Mosque was, I think, for many people, it was a, a beacon, a, a haven. And, as a consequence, you know, or you knew that you were safe within the confines of like, ah, once you hit Lennox Ave. ah, coming down towards a 116th Street that you were going to be okay, because, actually there were brothers up and down that avenue selling the papers, and, it meant, simply, that if they saw anything happen, or, people wouldn't do anything around them, first of all. So, once you got to 116th Street you were, like free, you were home, you were okay, you were safe. And, people knew that, and so therefore, and if anything happened around the confines of that Mosque, I mean, ah you knew the person had to be crazy to do it, because someone would find them out and go and say, "What's your problem brother or sister?" So, there was that sense of, of, of, being safe within that arena, which was very important. I think that it was that aura, ah, and, and that mystique, ah, and that sense of seeing brothers and sisters around. I mean, we saw sisters walking in a certain fashion, and dressed in a certain fashion, and, even though, it seemed different than the rest of the populace, people respected that. You know, you, you have to go back and look at the respect that ordinary people had for the sisters. I mean there was a sense of, like, respect for these are good sisters. And people would say, the church would say, "How are you doing today, sister?" ah, "Everything okay?" Cause you say, "I'm fine sister." And, there you were. There was a common ground of respect and, and, and love for each other. And, some would stop you and say, "I don't know if I really believes in this stuff that you people's talking about, but you know, my daughter's in this, you know, and she done changed. My daughter used to run and do this, and drink, and smoke that pot, and just run with all kinds of mens, but she don't do that no mo' and, so even though I don't quite understand what it's all about, ah, I like my daughter now, my daughter is nice now, and she's respectful, so, keep on doing what you're doing girl, you know, 'cause I know there's some good in that." That's what I'm talking about. You can't fight that. And, that was a very real kind of movement there. And, we have to remember that and understand that so young boys would not hit or knock down older women for anything at all, because they knew that they weren't supposed to be that way. Ah, that's why I understand, truly, um, the feelings that some people have now about saying, talking about that in these new rap songs, okay I know.

INTERVIEWER:

I know, you said it.

SONIA SANCHEZ:

I realized, that's why I stopped.