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.


A Melayu Philippine Muslim Play in NY


by Barbara Nimri Aziz

Today’s comment is a review of “Pandibulan –Bathing by moonlight”, a moving and very special dance, music and folk tales presentation of the Melayu people of Southern Philippines.

Directed by an old friend from WBAI Radio, Potri Ranka Manis, this completely overwhelmed me when I saw it. The performance also showed me how much Potri Ranka Manis has been doing in the 5-6 years that we hadn’t seen each other, and all while she remained fully employed in a nursing career.

I almost missed Pandibulan, only catching the last performance Sunday May 2 at the end of its run at La Mama Theater in New York City. Pandibulan was a profound presentation of events, culture, history and politics that far surpasses what most New York theatergoers experience.

The 90 minute play fully absorbed me although it had virtually no spoken dialogue and neither HipHop music nor wild staging. The story was essentially told through a Yakan pantomime in music and dance. It was, in many respects, an opera. It tells the story of the far reaching trials of a people who inhabit Basilan Island, one of the most fertile areas of Mindanao in South Philippines. A people now fighting for its existence, their story traces their ancestry in their homeland to New York where her people have migrated in search of work, fighting here as well, this time to survive as a nurse.

This kind of history is rarely attempted on stage these days when political messages from the authentic source of a conflict are essentially taboo, and these simply would not attract funding. Moreover, how often do we see such a complex political story told in music and dance alone?

Potri Ranka Manis has given us a superb presentation. She created this for a talented young team, costumed in the most simple folk clothes that remind us of the peasant quality of life. Perhaps Ranka Manis saves all the luxury for the music; it runs through every second of the performance, changing the moods and guiding the choreography. No one would leave the theater after Pandibulan, without feeling uneasy about the story of the Maley people of The Philippines.

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