"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.


A rite for a right:-- the US Department of Justice’s solution to hunger strikers during Ramadan


by Barbara Nimri Aziz

A Ramadan gift to eclipse all others:— in these multicultural-sensitive times, the American Department of Justice has surely set a new standard. Either some creative criminologist or an imaginative Muslim chaplain seeking to justify his post, or an hurriedly updated Ramadan guidebook, has prevailed on Guantanamo prison authorities just in time for the Muslim holy month.

What has our justice department done in response to a petition to end force-feeding of striking prisoners? It will feed the men by nasal tubes only after sunset and before dawn! This, we are told, is to make the justice department compliant with religious precepts. No human rights; instead, a rite. Surely this is a contemptuous reply by the DOJ to legal appeals representing hunger-striking inmates in its infamous island prison.

So when fasting in coming weeks, should I and a billion other Muslims feel we are in synch with our desperate brothers at Guantanamo gasping as feeding tubes are forced through their nasal passages and into their stomachs. The striking men’s religious precepts will be respected while the prisoners’ demand that they not to be fed at all are firmly denied.

This decision adds to the many injustices Guantanamo detainees have had to endure for more than a decade. Who could have thought up this resolution? 

But there is a cheerless irony in the action. Even though the DOJ may consider itself religion-compliant in this decision, apparently no one suggested to them that obligatory fasting rules might be lifted under the circumstances of these prisoners’ conditions. As bizarre as the practice is, force-feeding could be interpreted as a ‘medical procedure’ and would thereby exempt these Muslims from fasting. Or, since fasting regulations specify that nothing should pass one’s lips during the month, then force-feeding through the nasal passage may not, strictly speaking, be interpreted as imbibing food or drink. This argument too would allow authorities to bypass (sic) fasting parameters.

Surely this complex problem calls for a ‘fatwa’. Could this be the first time in Islamic experience that force-feeding has confronted our community of scholars, men who eagerly pronounce on the most humdrum and fatuous habits of Muslims’ domestic life? And we will need a revised Ramadan Kit produced by CAIR (Council on American Islamic Relations;, a US Muslim rights organization that prides itself in its close co-operation with US justice authorities.

While some Muslim rights organizations called for the end of the force-feeding procedure, all are silent on the absurdity of the DOJ Ramadan decision for Guantanamo’s protesters.

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