Forthcoming

"Freeing yourself was one thing; claiming ownership of that freed self was another." author Toni Morrison (1931- 05.08.2019)

“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"v  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 singer at 89

 

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.

 

Violence is As American As Cherry Pie

2012-03-14

by Barbara Nimri Aziz

Cherry Pie is a much loved American dessert. Cherry Pie for most Americans conjures up warm feelings of a bountiful family dinner topped off with a slice of pie oozing red cherry syrup crowned with a scoop of ice cream.

Thus the poignancy of the maxim--“Violence is As American As Cherry Pie”.

Some of us will remember and will understand this adage. This was H Rap Brown’s  (Jamil Abdallah Al-Amin) cogent summation of American culture 45 years ago.

I remember it often--too often, reading the daily news.

Today ‘Violence is as American as Cherry Pie’ describes the massacre of 16 Afghans by an American serving his great superpower nation abroad. Yesterday it was a knife attack at a employment center, the day before that a shooting at a college, before that a bombing of shepherd boys in a far away mountainside, and before that US drone attacks on another foreign mountainside, then shootings in a neighborhood home in Ohio, a school, a college, a military base, a courtroom. It goes on and on, and on, daily in the US and wherever US military personnel and their killing machines are at work, “protecting” America and Americans across the world.

The toll escapes us, as we move swiftly from headline to headline.  

H. Rap Brown was Black Panther leader and chair of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee in the 1960s. An articulate outspoken critic of American culture, he eventually became Jamil Al-Amin, settling in Atlanta Georgia. There he devoted himself to Islam and community service “reforming people’s lives and improving the community through this Divine program.”  (In 2000, al-Amin was sent to prison for a murder for which many believe he was falsely accused. H Rap Brown’s saying came back to claim him as it continues to take so many of our Black American leaders.

(Many maintain Al-Amin is a political prisoner whose real crime was “guiding others to Islam”—In May 2004, after Iraq’s Abu Graib prison revelations, in a published message to the public Al-Amin writes “mistreatment in Iraqi prisons is only the tip of the iceberg and that Muslims in prisons inside the US ‘have been similarly trampled’. He emphasized that such misbehavior must be put within its context: It is an attempt to break Muslims, to strip them of their humanity and to trash their identity, dignity and self-respect.

Media headlines this week pass over the violence in neighborhoods across the US to tell us of a deranged soldier- a lone gunman—as if this soldier himself is a victim of the war he served so gallantly. The murder of Afghans that he reportedly single-handedly carried is becoming a story of the mental problems experienced by our trained professional killers and a debate about when and how the US should leave Afghanistan.

Would that this event is understood as a ‘condition’ of American culture: “As American as Cherry Pie”. The problem is not in an army unit gone mad or in a military occupation. It lies deep within US culture—the games children play, the language they use, the design of their cars, the books they read and the songs they sing.

Across the world, people understand this. Those biting into their cherry pie or watching the Baghdad sky “light up like a Christmas tree” cannot, alas.

 

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I want to mention –women who are not in the cruel world but suffer behind bars –cages, if you will.  Some of us are political –here because the Government has criminalized our actions or framed us –I call out to you to Remember and  Cherish  Marie Mason, a “green warrior”, Afra Siddique ” a heroine in her own Pakistan for her brave resistance”, and also Me–Still fighting, Still Struggling

Civil Rights Attorney Lynne Stewart,from prison

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