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.


"The Donald" and the American Media


by Barbara Nimri Aziz

Is “The Donald” Really One-up on US Media? If So, Should We Not Champion Him?

Why are we so surprised by the audacity and rise of The Donald? We made him. America made him. Our free, uncensorable press made him. For as long as I can recall being a media critic, we’ve been decrying our out-of-control, profiteering American media empire. We have charged the media with commandeering our elections, with making or breaking political aspirants according to how they ‘appear’, with caring less about facts than image, with reducing essential policies to sound bites, with skewing discussions and analyses with their hand-picked, biased pundits.

Remember Nixon’s triumphant 1952 “Checkers Speech” in the newly launched medium of television? And the homey images of J.F.K. that propelled him into the hearts of the nation? And those hard-nosed TV hosts like Ted Koppel whose reputation was built on bold confrontations with politicians?

Our corporate media rings up their cash registers along the way too, with TV ads absorbing the bulk of campaign budgets. We charge that elections are bought with unchecked contributions by rich donors who can saturate the media for their favorite candidates. News networks have us at both ends. Doing our civic duty largely from the sofa, we depend on network commercials for candidate’s promotional ads. And we seem to need televised interviews and analyses to help evaluate, to shame, or to promote the choices we make at the ballot. Not only has US media culture made a mash of competition for high office; it has established a pattern of pseudo news and dependence on TV election coverage that became a model across the world. Leadership is not only subject to media image; aspirants seek to gain control of media, as Italy’s former boss Silvio Berlusconi, himself a media tycoon, proved. Or like India’s Narendra Modi, they become expert media mavens. Recent scandals in the UK have pointed up the coziness of Tory leader Cameron and media mogul Rupert Murdock.

Across the world, in democracies and monarchies alike, effective leaders learn how to accommodate media demands, always in the hope to turning it to their advantage. Even our own Barack Obama is surely trying to play the media to his advantage by his frequent appearances on TV comedy shows. (To what success is another question.) One doubts he’s chatting with Jay Leno or Ellen DeGeneres merely to fill a free afternoon.

But back to the most shameless media man: The Donald. It seems to me, as I follow his stage appearances and interviews, that he is able to somehow make media serve him. So much so that, unlike other candidates, he seems to avoid spending his personal millions on paid ads. And he calls the shots.

Trump’s political incorrectness is galling, and frightening. I find him shameful, believing as I do, that some threads of democracy still hold us together. With the prospect that The Donald’s espoused principles could become US policy under his leadership, I may not want to live in this country.

Some political commentators now suggest that the US news media itself could be responsible to allowing Trump to gain the traction he has over these recent months. Oh, now they notice? Have they not fed his bombast and daring, his quips and his off-the-cuff behavior? His style may appear refreshing compared to formulaic presentations by other candidates--DNC and GOP. Now, they find that he’s uncontrollable?

They accorded The Donald super coverage to increase their own ratings; now  they can’t shut him down. More worrying, through our playful media The Donald has built what appears to be a serious audience and following.

Scrutiny and pressure by some TV hosts has exposed the weaknesses of candidates like Carson and Jeb Bush. Not The Donald however. In the case of Fox Network’s Megan Kelly who he refuses to face, he simply bypassed the debate altogether, and later mockingly shouts: “I’m on the front page of major papers without having been at the (January 28th) debate”. Then there’s the GOP who welcomed him to the party but can’t seem to ‘handle’ him. He defies their rules and procedures. Isn’t his something that we should welcome, given what we know about backroom deal-making? Isn’t he defying the decision of Citizens’ United as well?

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