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.

 

Voting in an Off-Election Year

2013-11-05

by Barbara Nimri Aziz

 

Later today I’ll drag myself to my nearby polling station, not reluctantly but somewhat mindlessly. I admit it: I don’t know the names of political candidates or their party affiliation in today’s election. Who will I vote for?

So why bother? It’s a state of mind I probably share with most other voting age Americans today.

These 2013 polls are not even called ‘mid-term elections’. Those happen next year when congressional and senate seats are contested. They’re immensely important because they decide which party holds the majority in Congress; this in turn will determine the potential of the presidency, also who’ll chair the influential US congressional committees. As we see in the current administration, although Democrats hold a slim senate majority, most reforms proposed by the president are blocked in the House of Representatives. Confronted by an unfriendly majority Republican Congress, Obama’s power has been hugely diminished throughout his tenure. Any chance to correct this comes only next year, when American media do their job to inform and prepare us on various national races, at least the close ones, and when some major controversies are hotly debated

But what about today’s election? Since it’s not a ‘president-creating’ event, we voters hear little about it. (Forget about world citizens usually enchanted by US elections.) Today’s contests are local, or town, elections; today we pick our community administrators and vote on referendums having to do with our environment, our taxes, our employment programs. You may have heard about New York City’s mayoral battle, and the races for two governorships—in Virginia and New Jersey. But I don’t reside in any of those places. Today, I can only vote for my local council, judge, and our rural equivalent of mayor. Ho hum.

First, in many regions of this state (and perhaps across the country) a lot of those names on the ballot are unopposed. Yes, only one candidate; thus no real choice for us voters. Second, our local media—regional newspapers, community radio and TV stations--devote little attention to these races. So finding out about candidates calls for a major personal effort-- for me, at least. The few  banners posted on trees and lawns around town listing names—Helen Lee, Tom Sush, Andrea Reynosa, e.g., don’t indicate their political party. To find that I need to peruse a special (finely printed) listing in a local paper. Or I wait until I arrive in the polling station. (One notice I read carries the Democratic Party logo, but a rider says ‘paid for by the candidate’—hmm, what do I make of that? This ad, for Reynosa, says she stands for 3 P’s—Protect, Preserve, and Promote. Not very helpful. Besides, she’s running for Tusten Town Council and I can’t vote there, whatever I may think of her cryptic 3 P agenda.)

Maybe I should take a rain check and wait for a real election. Problem is: I believe in local governance and its role in our democracy.

The municipality is where things are done, or not done, that directly affect my daily life. Here’s where property and school taxes are levied; here’s where roads are maintained, power lines repaired, school standards are checked, where our library is funded, where construction codes are monitored, where police are posted, where our town court and fire department are, and where the budget for community health and welfare services is decided.

Our Town Supervisor (local mayor) and her Councilmen and women may receive only part-time salaries of as little as $15,000. Yet they decide the allocation of budgets of half a million dollars and more. They do the work that maintains the roads and electric lines, rain or shine, keeps schools running and controls crime.

It’s my Town Council’s initiative that may win state and federal grants for major local projects-- grants that boost employment, support the arts, build social centers, repair roads and streams, supplement school educational programs, allocate funds for the needy. In effect, it is these almost anonymous women and men to whom I owe my safety, my opportunities and the quality of day-to-day life I enjoy-- through our winter storms, at my free library and parkland, and in the pure water I drink.

Excuse me. I better get to the polls before closing time.

Comments welcome

 

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