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.


What's in store for the American leader?


by Barbara Nimri Aziz

He and his party already comprised their earlier principles and goals. Now Barak Obama declares he is ready to comprise with the new US (right-wing) congressional leadership. If he really continues on this course, the US president is comprising his leadership ability.  

How things will work out for the US in the coming years, I do not know. I am not afraid of disaster. Nor do I fear such an overhaul of policies that the country will collapse.  

I so want Barak Obama to succeed—to succeed as a national leader, to succeed in giving us real structural social programs that I believe he initially stood for— equity, better education for all, government protection from predatorily private interests, nationally funded health care for all, less wars, less occupation, lower military expenses, as well as really visionary new programs to overcome Americans overwhelming ignorance, fear and belligerence. 

Yes, we had some reforms during Obama’s first year. To me they were not substantive enough- he came out with principles and went away with sad compromises fashioned to mollify some opponents, to pretend to his supporters that there were real changes. This applied as much to international positions as to domestic policies.

Internationally, yes, the image is (was) better: the words Obama sends out to the world are eloquent, and he displays intelligence. The shame of being American is less.

But these appearances really don’t matter. Because there is no basic change in US foreign policy. If anything, US support for Israel is stronger while the commitment to Palestinian statehood is weaker; threats and sanctions against Iran are heightened; the hunt for those who oppose US policies is as fierce and merciless; the growth of intelligence agencies to thwart perceived enemies is bigger while the support for dictators who follow the US line is as firm as ever. 

Speaking for myself, my life has changed little as a result of government under Obama (except maybe my cynicism has increased). And I also know the lives and prospects of 25-year olds and 40-year olds around me still on the cusp of their careers have not improved. As for Muslims in the US, things have actually worsened for us, as they have for our Hispanic peoples. So what do we have?  

Why does President Obama make such a point of his readiness to reach out to opponents? Is this all he has to say after their victory in the recent election? He was reaching out during his first two years. And with what results? He was unable to enact the programs he promised and we needed. And his compromising weakened him.  

On the one hand Obama has lost his once strong electoral base. On the other, he was never able to mollify his enemies. They seemed to have grown stronger while he and his arty lost their bearings. Today, it’s hard to see what Barak Obama stands for. 

Too bad. Because he does seem like such a decent guy. His weakness in light of his beliefs and intelligence surely reflect the regrettable status of the USA in general. 

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