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.


Cycling, doping, and interviewing. The Armstrong affair


by Barbara Nimri Aziz

If anyone came out of that widely viewed TV program looking good, it is host Oprah Winfrey. She was well-prepared, blunt, persistent, human and humane. Her guest, the now notorious Lance Armstrong, was by contrast wooden, unconvincing, inarticulate and, I felt, shallow… despite his confessions and emotion.

Although I myself bicycle, I was never impressed by the competitive nature of cycling. Nevertheless, I felt compelled to tune in. I actually phoned neighbors so I could watch last night’s Winfrey TV interview with Armstrong.

Why? ‘Though I’d not viewed the champion American cyclist in action, I know Armstrong’s helmeted face from magazine and news articles. Like many of you I read about the doping scandal, Armstrong’s unrelenting denials and the report by the anti-doping agency. Oddly, I found that I had no opinion about whether he doped or if he lied. Not because I didn’t care. But because I’ve become inured to the widespread use of chemicals --to enhance performance, whether in sex, strength, endurance, longevity, beauty— among the famous and the wannabes. It is part of our culture, not only American, but universal. 

No; I tuned in to watch how both host and guest would handle the issue. I wanted to see the masterful TV host Oprah at work with this guy, to witness her empathy and discipline tackling a highly complex issue. How was she going to draw out Armstrong and move him beyond just telling the truth, beyond facts, and into deeper moral issues? A tricky business, notwithstanding legal constraints from lawsuits underway in the case. Oprah did well, and Armstrong confessed. But he was simply unable to explore at a meaningful level, issues of greater significance to us: the power of success, motive, trust, treachery, dishonor. An airing of these questions would have  helped us understand what makes champions, what corrupts power, what feeds the cult of celebrity that drives our society. He could have helped parents and especially our children, intoxicated by celebrity, understand how we are so enchanted by ‘idols’. Surely the level of idolatry associated with sports today is connected with the toxic indulgences of so many celebrities. (Would Barbara Walters have extracted more from Armstrong? I doubt it.)

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