From Hip Hop to Islam: The Story of Kenny Bomer
Kenny Bomer is currently the president of the Brazosport Islamic Society in Lake Jackson, Texas, about an hour south of Houston. He found Islam 30 years ago in a very unusual place: Hip-hop music.
Kenny was born in Houston and had a difficult childhood. At age eleven, he and his younger brother were abandoned by their parents after they separated. Kenny was placed by the state at the Brazoria County Youth Home (BCYH) in Freeport, Texas, where he lived until the age of eighteen.
“It was one of the greatest blessings of my life, to be honest,” he said.
Employees at the Brazoria County Youth Home exposed him to Christianity. He enjoyed the spiritual side of it, but started to doubt some of its teachings: “I began to analyze the things they said in the church,” he remembers. “A lot of questions came to my mind about who God was.”
At Brazosport High School, Kenny developed a passion for hip-hop music. He and his friends would engage in battle rap in the school hallways. They learned that history teacher Norris Burse was also interested in hip-hop and had ties to a recording studio.
“We approached him about being our DJ, and he agreed to it,” Kenny said. “We started going to his studio.”
Before long, however, Kenny and Burse started their own rap duo known as “Def Squad” and signed a record deal on the Mr. Henry label.
While driving back and forth to appearances and recordings, Kenny learned about the Nation of Islam, which Burse had joined.
Burse kept a Quran in his car, and one day, Kenny picked it up. “I immediately knew that book was the truth, It answered all the questions I had in my mind.” he recalled.
He read the Quran more and more, studied Islam and debated with Burse about the religion. All the while, he was touring and becoming better known for his music.
Kenny eventually went out on his own, starting his own studio in Freeport, signing a solo deal and promoting other rappers.
While music introduced him to Islam, Kenny admits that a difficult divorce in 2014 made him more serious about the religion.
“That hardship took me to a better place,” he said. “The Quran teaches that we’re going to be tested. We’re going to endure trials. Those who are patient, those who stay in prayer, will get through it.”
Kenny said that the time he suffered made him more sincere. “It made me more reliant on my creator,” he said. “He was there when no one else was. I devoted my life to speaking the truth.”
He jumped into public speaking and started researching for his book.
“I’m trying to break down all of those misconceptions, because I know what Islam means to me,” he said. “I want to speak to others about Islam, to tell them that they’re criticizing something that has done wonders for my life.”
Kenny said that, too often, individuals use what they see in movies or short sound bites on the news to mold their view of Muslims, instead of doing their own investigations.
“They’re made to fear Muslims, but the truth is that Muslims are doctors, lawyers, public officials, professors,” he said. “Muslims are in the community everywhere, especially in a city like Houston. I’m trying to break down those stereotypes one by one and get people to think realistically about Islam and not to pass judgment.”
He said the roots of anti-Muslim sentiment reach far into American history.
“It’s not anything new,” he said. “That’s what my book is addressing. We’re still seeing people being labeled. People who wear a hijab are looked at as a potential terrorist, without anyone taking time to learn about the people and see what Islam is about.”
Asking questions and learning more is the best way to change that, Kenny said.
“That’s how we break down barriers and take down walls,” he said. “All of these people are your neighbors. Don’t fear your neighbors.”
Each weekend, Kenny sets up a booth at Hermann Park, as head of the local chapter for the organization Mercy for Mankind, a nonprofit that hopes to bring awareness of the true beliefs of Islam — and to build a bridge with other faiths through dialogue.
Kenny said that a number of people fear Islam without ever speaking to a Muslim “It’s our obligation as Muslims to share Islam with other people, to tell other people about the beauty of Islam,” Kenny said.
That’s why he invites all passersby to ask him whatever questions they might have. He also serves as public speaker about his religion and recently released a book, “Consider Islam: Disproving the Patriots of Propaganda” through an independent publisher. The book is available on Amazon.