I don't want to see stores looted or buildings burned; but African- Americans have been living in burning buildings for years, choking on smoke as flames burn closer and closer.  Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

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.


Our Legacy of Women Authors


by Barbara Nimri Aziz

A beneficiary of recent memorials to Martin Luther King and Malcolm X Malik El-Shabazz, I’m rethinking what I say below about dead women writers. Death anniversaries can be inspiring— called “teaching moments” here—so bring them on.

Should we welcome news of the passing of women writers? Last month we learned of “The Thorn Birds” author Colleen McCullough’s death. I admit it; I read “Thorn Birds” only recently, then excitedly called friends to discuss this gripping family epic set in Australia. Ahh yes, they said. They knew it:--not the book but the film adaptation (in this case a TV-series). They remembered the handsome priest played by American actor Chamberlain. And the author? Hmm; maybe it was a woman. To compound this injustice to McCullough, Wikipedia characterizes “The Thorn Birds” as (just) a love story and devotes more attention to the film than the book and its author.

With McCullough’s passing we read that this bigger-than-life Australian – an ‘outspoken’ woman, they note-- penned 20 books including a 7-volume Masters of Rome series that shone light on her research proficiency and earned accolades from historians. And how about this: McCullough’s inspiration to write began while working as a neuroscientist (neurophysiology was her first vocation) in New Haven; earning half what her male counterparts made McCullough took up writing to supplement her income. After she’d become wealthy from the success of “The Thorn Birds” in 1977, she thoroughly indulged herself living how she pleased while continuing to write. Good for her.

When British author Doris Lessing died in 2013 we revisited her award-winning “The Golden Notebook” portrayal of free women written decades before the American feminist movement emerged. This story isn’t easy to follow but once into it you grasp what a brilliant piece of literature it is.

So overwhelming is our celebrity culture today that cinema eclipses all. How many of us who enjoyed the audacious film “Thelma and Louise” champion that feisty actor Susan Sarandon yet can’t name the screenwriter? Well, she’s another woman-- Callie Khouri-- who is moreover an American of Arab heritage!

Last year young people were fawning over “Hunger Games” film star Jennifer Lawrence and the story’s heroine Katniss Everdeen. But do they recognize the name Suzanne Collins who wrote that book? And how about the award-winning film “Theory of Everything” based on the book “Traveling to Infinity”   by Jane Hawking?

We still talk about “To Kill a Mockingbird”. But it’s the 1962 film with Gregory Peck that leaps into our minds. And if we can recall the author, we’re uncertain if Harper Lee is male or female. Or we may know her from the 2005 film “Capote” where Lee is a literary companion of Truman Capote.

We’ve just had news that may resuscitate Laura Ingalls Wilder. “Pioneer Girl”, a lost autobiography of Wilder, is to be released soon and will surely revitalize interest in Wilder’s “Little House on the Prairie” series for children. (Children’s books are one of the most invigorating areas of American literature.)

We’ve just had the 50th death anniversary of Lorraine Hansberry, author of “A Raisin in the Sun”—Yes, I know: you remember the film-- with Sidney Poitier. But what about Hansberry’s political career? 

Women will forever be compelled to pen stories from rich imaginations, curiosity and pride, pains and losses… and from inspiring foremothers. If it takes an obituary or a film for us to discover them, so be it. Along with libraries that still house books, we now have search engines to mine the web for more history.  END

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