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.


Courthouse Rally for Attorney Lynne Stewart and Eid Prayers


by Barbara Nimri Aziz

Today is Eid Al-Fitr, marking the end of a month of fasting and feasting, socializing, reading and worship. After morning prayer assemblies, perhaps visits to ancestors’ graves, dressed in gay new clothes boasting our global origins and Islamic fashions, young and old share gifts and depart for parks and playlands, restaurants and picnic grounds for simple pleasures with family and friends. International phone lines buzz as felicitations are exchanged with distant relatives. I feel happy knowing the joy this day engenders. I share Eid Mubaraks.

With American Muslims now part of swelling communities, large and small, across the US, we can get lost in the crowd with abandon. For these few days we can feel that we are everywhere, that we are accepted, that our Eid is an American festival, part of  the country’s unparalleled cultural panorama. Which it is.

So does this make me unMuslim or unobservant if I opt out this year and instead join a political rally? Well, not a political rally as we normally think of them; this is a human rights demonstration, and it will be at the a federal courthouse in Manhattan. It’s a show of support for an individual whose name and history all Muslims in this country should know--Lynne Stewart.

From the 1970s, this noted civil rights attorney championed the rights of citizens unjustly targeted. They were not popular cases but Stewart often succeeded and remained undaunted. About 1993 Stewart turned her attention to injustices – the application of secret evidence, for example-- experienced by Muslims in the US; their treatment, she felt, demonstrated abuse of the Patriot Act and infringement of constitutional rights.

After September 11, 2001, Stewart herself was targeted and ultimately convicted and sentenced, at the age of 70, to ten years in prison. During her trial, while she argued that her charge was an infringement of constitutionally protected client-attorney privilege, the US media (some labeled her ‘terrorist lawyer’) and American Zionist spokesmen, were merciless in their attacks against Stewart.

This at a time when Lynne was already afflicted by cancer. Today almost four years into her imprisonment in Texas Stewart’s health is deteriorating. With last month’s appeal to the Department of Prisons for Stewart’s compassionate release rejected, today’s hearing is an attempt to convince her original sentencing judge (John Koeltl) to overrule that judgment. The defense is asking that Stewart be granted conditional release to be removed to a New York City cancer hospital for treatment and in order to be near her family during what is expected to be her final months. Clemency would be a cause for celebration by civil rights advocates across the US.

US Muslims have been blessed with a largely incident-free Ramadan and Eid. Maybe somewhere, when collective festivities end and we return to school and work and the now routine attacks on our faith, Muslim sisters and brothers will take time to consider the long history and ongoing struggle for civil rights in the USA.

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