Snatching liberty seemed compelling. Some of us thrived; some of us died. All of us had a taste. from author Toni Morrison, on friendships.

I don't want to see stores looted or buildings burned; but African- Americans have been living in burning buildings for years, choking on smoke as flames burn closer and closer.  Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

That’s not a chip on my shoulder. That’s your foot on my neck.  – Malcolm X

"We must never, ever give up. We must be brave. We must be courageous." John Lewis, activist, congressman. 1940-2020 

This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness. ~ Dalai Lama

"Never forget that justice is what love looks like in public."  Professor Cornel West.

"Only by learning to live in harmony with your contradictions can you keep it all afloat."  Audre Lorde

"The serious function of racism is distraction". 1995, Toni Morrison; Portland lecture, Playing in The Dark

“If I tell the story, I control the version. Because if I tell the story, I can make you laugh, and I would rather have you laugh at me than feel sorry for me.” Nora Ephron

"Freeing yourself was one thing; claiming ownership of that freed self was another." author Toni Morrison (1931- 2019)

“If I tell the story, I control the version. Because if I tell the story, I can make you laugh, and I would rather have you laugh at me than feel sorry for me”; Nora Ephron, author/comedian

"Make your story count". Michelle Obama

"Social pain is understood through the lens of racial animus". Researcher/author Sean McElwee writing in Salon, 2016

"We are citizens, not subjects. We have the right to criticize government without fear."  Chelsea Manning; activist/whisleblower

“My father was a slave and my people died to build this country, and I’m going to stay right here and have a part of it, just like you, And no fascist minded people, like you, will drive me from it. Is that clear?” Paul Robeson; activist/singer

“We have a system of justice in this country that treats you much better if you're rich and guilty than if you're poor and innocent”. from civil rights attorney Bryan Stevenson

“This Fourth of July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn. To drag a man in fetters into the grand illuminated temple of liberty, and call upon him to join you in joyous anthems, were inhuman mockery and sacrilegious irony. Do you mean, citizens, to mock me, by asking me to speak today?” Frederick Douglass, WHAT TO THE SLAVE IS 4TH JULY? 07.05.1852 (full text in blog)

Senator Elizabeth Warren "We're a country that is built on our differences; that is our strength, not our weakness"

"We are more alike than we are different" ~ Maya Angelou

As a Black writer, I was expected to accept the role of victim. That made it difficult in the beginning to be a writer.      James Baldwin

I often feel that there must have been something that I should’ve done that I didn’t do. But I can’t identify what it is that I didn’t do. That’s the first difficulty. And the second is, what makes you think you’re it?   

         Harry Belafonte, activist and singe


It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble; It's what you know for sure that just ainst so.

Mark Twain


You can't be brave if you've only had wonderful things happen to you.

Mary Tyler Moore


 You can’t defend Christianity by being against refugees and other religions

Pope Francis:


"I don't have to be what you want me to be". Muhammad Ali

"The Secret of Living Well and Longer: eat half, walk double, laugh triple, and love without measure"  attributed to Tibetan sources

Recent audio posts include interviews with Rumi interpreter Shahram Shiva, London-based author Aamer Hussein, South African Muslim scholar, professor Farid Esack, and Iraqi journalist Nermeen Al-Mufti's brief account of Kirkuk City history. Your comments on our blogs are always welcome.


Who killed Anthony Shadid?


by Barbara Nimri Aziz

Our celebrated, dedicated, everything-to-live-for journalist died suddenly, and inexplicably, on February 16. We mourned one of our own; we grieved for his young family. His illustrious employer, the New York Times, spoke of Shadid’s brilliance and of the deep loss to American journalism.

Shadid was first reported to have died from an asthma attack on the border of Syria and Turkey. He was ‘in the field’, faithfully searching for truths in his over-the-top mission as a Middle East correspondent. The asthma was a condition he had lived with since his youth.

How ironic. It was a childhood asthma that took him, not a rebel bullet or a land mine planted in those hazardous border zones.

That’s what we thought. That is: this is the story the world was told. One could almost fault Shadid for carelessness; had this veteran reporter, famous for his work in conflict zones, not known how to handle a chronic ailment?

The reality of Shadid’s death is rather different from the official version, it seems.  Although Shadid’s family has yet to receive an autopsy report—that in itself might arouse suspicion—they believe Anthony died from a heart attack.

How could this happen?

Well, according to a Shadid family member, himself a doctor, just before his death, Shadid and his New York Times editors had heated arguments by phone. Following that altercation, the doctor says, Shadid called his wife to warn her that if he died, responsibility lay with the NYT.

It seems Shadid set out for Syria furious with poor arrangements the Times made for his entry into the country to cover the conflict there. Shadid charged that the Times’ facilities for a covert entry from Turkey were inadequate; nevertheless his New York bosses insisted Shadid make the journey. Shadid complained to editors that he was inadequately equipped for the foray. Then, rather than enter by motorcycle as first arranged, he was escorted in by a smugglers who were at the same time transporting crates of guns for rebels inside Syria.  We also learn that after Shadid’s kidnapping experience in Libya 11 months earlier, he had received no counseling for that trauma.  

These revelations came to light a week ago, when Edward Shadid, a medical doctor and cousin of the journalist, was addressing a national gathering of Arab Americans. He emphatically says it is not true that Shadid suffered an asthma attack and was carried out heroically by a fellow NYT colleague, a photographer, as the Times had reported. He also reports the fierce quarrel between Shadid and his employer before he set out across the border .

Faced with these charges, the NYT is apparently sticking by its story; it denies any dispute with Shadid or that it pressured the journalist. Lena Badr, Shadid’s wife, declines to join the family campaign to investigate exactly what happened. (She herself is a Times reporter.)

Finally, given recent testimony from senior British journalist Alex Thomson, it is not impossible that Shadid was somehow entrapped in a situation similar to what Thomson experienced in Syria. Travelling with Syrian rebels, Thomson concluded, he was led into an ambush, barely escaping with his life. He suggests this tactic could have been part of the media war waged against Syria since, he posits, a journalist’s death would be blamed on Assad forces and thereby strengthen the hand of foreign governments hostile to the Syrian regime.

So where is that NYT photographer who accompanied Shadid? Surely he can clear things up.

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