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.

 

Two Weeks from ElectionDay: Do I have to Vote?

2014-10-21

by Barbara Nimri Aziz

I arrived near the end of the candidate’s talk and the Q&A that followed. So although I had no opportunity to put a question to Sean Eldridge myself, I could see he wanted the job. He knew issues that concern voters. He was clear minded. He was open.

I reaffirmed my commitment to vote for this first-time candidate for the US Congress. The star of today’s luncheon, Eldridge is running on the Democratic Party ticket, opposing Gibson, Republican incumbent and congressman for our district. At least we have a race here, I thought. We finally have a credible opposing candidate. 

It’s a lot of work learning about local candidates. Because this locality is known as strongly Republican, the Democratic Party passes us over. There’s often no party nominee; so no debate, and no media attention. Citizens feel marginalized, and-- what’s the word? —disenfranchised. It happens. And it’s a mistake. Uncontested elections are bad all around.

When I lived in Manhattan, we had a similar problem, only reversed. There, Democrats prevail and Republican contenders are hardly seen. When a district is so heavily in one political camp, the opposing party won’t even field a candidate. Today a large part of the country is polarized like this; thus most election outcomes are easily predicable. So they’re ignored; thus fewer residents in those areas even bother to vote.

The media and Party resources focus on places identified as ‘crucial’; this means the outcome is not as clear as it is in either Manhattan -- reliably Democrat, or upstate New York-- predictably Republican. A ‘crucial contest’ means there’s controversy: a viable challenger has appeared and the opposing Party is backing him or her; there are lively debates and verbal attacks. The incumbent faces criticism; parties pour more money into the race; there’s more advertizing and then more news coverage.

In my district, Sean Eldridge seems to be a serious contender for Gibson’s seat. How much the party agrees, I’m unsure. But this year my local election may not be as boring as in the past. I feel invigorated and commit myself to reversing the imbalance in Congress that has so hobbled the president.  

But my vote isn’t enough. There are many like me out there, and our party’s local branch needs us. Still, we have to hammer on their door. Which is what I did.

I didn’t go to that meeting to shake hands with the young hopeful. I was trying to connect with my local Democratic Party.

A week had passed since, seeing a glossy mailer about Sean Eldridge, I checked his webpage; from there I emailed his campaign office. No reply. Two more emails, then a donation, then finally a phone number. I spoke to a real person and thus learned about the candidate’s luncheon. Now I’m signed up for a workshop to train for their phone campaign. Then I’ll donate a day to getting out the vote by phone.

Today I spoke to a neighbor. Yes, she saw a TV promotion for Eldridge. As a Democrat, she’ll vote for him. But she would have liked to meet him. “How many more are there like me?” she wonders. “I didn’t receive any flyer. How did you know about the luncheon?” She asks. “Tell me what is his position on job creation, on medical insurance, on threatened cuts?”

Voting wisely and being more than a bystander takes a lot of work these days. We have to forfeit the glamour that national political stars bring, and do some basic democratic grunge work for our home counties. 

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