Salaam, Yusef Ramelize!

Our new book, Salaam, Love: American Muslim Men on Love, Sex & Intimacy, will be released on February 4th. In the lead up to the release, meet our 22 contributors.

Today, meet Yusef Ramelize!

Yusef

Yusef Ramelize

An excerpt from Yusef’s story, “Who I Needed to Be”:

“Sometimes a father’s love goes way beyond the words and the things that his children might see,” my mom said with tears in her eyes. “Everyone has a different way of expressing love. Of course, some ways are healthier than others, but sometimes parents repeat what they learned from their life experiences and struggles. That doesn’t mean that your father didn’t love you.”

I thought deeply about all the things my mom said, the things my father did and didn’t do, who he was and who he wasn’t. It helped me to realize that though my father hadn’t loved me the way I wanted him to, he had loved me in the best way he could. I couldn’t condone all he had done, but I decided to let go of the fear and pain that had held me back for so long.

By accepting my father, I began my journey toward understanding love.

To read more, order Salaam, Love today!

Q&A with Yusef

Tell us about yourself

I was born here in Brooklyn, NY but spent most of youth in Trinidad. Professionally, I am Graphic Designer but have an interest in all types of visual arts. I spend most of my time with friends and family, especially with my wife of two years. On occasion I enjoy going snowboarding and biking. Outside of design, my biggest passion is for service to my community. In 2009 I started a project called Homeless for One Week to raise money and awareness about Homelessness in New York City. For four years a chose one week (during the month Ramadan in the last 2 years) to sleep on the streets and strip myself of traditional comforts. It was a personal journey for me to remember those without, and I blogged about my experience to help others do the same. I’m in the process of revamping the project, moving into stage two. Feel free to visit the website and join the facebook and mailing list for updates. http://www.Homelessforoneweek.com

Why were you drawn to this project?

I have ventured out into many areas of art including photography, painting and carpentry. Writing was a new frontier and new way for me to express myself. I love to challenge myself with new things and I felt that people might find value, inspiration, or comfort in my story. This was the perfect opportunity to challenge myself, while share something in a new way.

What was the most challenging part of sharing your story?

What I found most challenging was really opening up about my past. To tell the story properly I had to be vulnerable and dig deep. Then after that I had to lay out for the world to see. You are really putting your whole self out there with this type of writing.

If there’s one thing you hope that readers will take away from your story, what is it?

The importance of surrounding yourself with people that are going to facilitate your success, in whatever you are up to in life. There aren’t a lot of communities that accept Muslims as there are at any given point in their life. I found that at Islamic Center at NYU. That acceptance provided a pathway for me to grow spiritually and personally.