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.

 

When Canadians Become Alarmed, Itís Serious.

2016-02-29

by Barbara Nimri Aziz

My sister phoned me from Canada this morning. I can’t remember her being so upset. It’s not about the grandchildren; it’s not anything I said, not a recurrence of her cancer, not winter’s icy roads or frozen pipes.

“What are you going to do if he becomes president? Can your Congress vote him out?” she asked determinedly. “What are you going to do?”—you being ‘you out-of-control Americans’. My sister is talking about Donald Trump’s ascendancy (if not his ascension).

This concern uttered by a woman who rarely talks politics, not even Canadian politics, from the same sister who routinely dismisses my political outrages, conspiratorial analyses, and opposition to Zionist occupation. I could never draw this lifelong sibling into a debate, especially about American politics. (She’s more of a royalist—they still exist in Ontario, I suppose in British Columbia too-- than a party member, left or right.)

Canadians habitually view their giant neighbor as excessive and unpredictable, not simply a source of new market delights which they travel south to buy, but also a target for Canadian satire. Preferring to avoid acknowledging their own military coalition with the Pentagon, their diplomatic alliances for US imperialist polices, their membership in ‘The Five Eyes’ global intelligence spy program, and their acquiescence to US anti-terror strategies, Canadians try to ignore the race-based dramas and costly principled struggles that beset USA. ‘It will pass like any teenage tantrum’, they snicker.

So, if my sister is alarmed about the emergence of the flashy Manhattan billionaire as the frontrunner in the US election campaign, this is serious. Despite themselves Canadians, impatient with the drawn out 10-week election cycle that overthrew their Harper administration last year, are now following America’s 15-month election drama with growing distress. Like many of us here, the personalities and volatility of the presidential campaign is no longer a laughing matter. Trump could actually win the Republican nomination, and the White House.

Unlike in Canada where parliament can simply force a vote-of-no-confidence if their leadership is off-track, ridding ourselves of an unmanageable leader is more problematic. 

Stateside, confronting this specter, we ourselves are desperately seeking options. Friends who favored Bernie Sanders announce they’re shifting to Clinton because she would seem to have a better chance against ‘The Donald’, allied as she is with the Democratic Party machine and Corporate America. Others assert they’ll sit out this election altogether. On the conservative side of the political arena, voters and the Republican Party itself (the GOP), admitting that ‘The Donald’ has become an embarrassment, appear to be mobilizing around young Mark Rubio.

Then there’s the gorilla in the room, the unparalleled American political force underlying everything in our lives—our media. US media is a formidable power which my sister and others watching from a safe distance may not appreciate. Network leaders now acknowledge that their romance with Trump and their initial delight in his celebrity skills helped create the monster he’s become. (Their profits have soared with his rise .)

This brash contender would not be the first rising star to become the target of a vicious media assault. I expect the new game in town will be between ‘The Donald’ and our media. Journalists have a toolbox of weapons to politically assassinate brash and bombastic contenders. They can create scandals, saturating the public with misinformation, poisoning any name and cause; they can uncover buried facts, blowing them out of portion to intimidate and embarrass. They can summon any comedic talent to ridicule their target. They can suggest alliances with the most extreme elements. (They’ve begun with a suggestion Trump is allied with the discredited Ku Klux Klan.)

And of course citizens can reject the TV process that drugs them into passivity and rouse themselves to really participate in the election process. They might organize to reshape the two houses of congress. Just as the GOP has hobbled Obama by taking control of Congress in the 2012 mid-terms, Democrats can do the same if a Trump or any Republican wins the presidency.  

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“We are nothing on this earth if we do not first and foremost serve a cause, the cause of the people, the cause of freedom and justice. I want you to know that even when the doctors had lost all hope, I was still thinking, in a fog granted, but thinking nonetheless, of the Algerian people, of the people of the Third World, and if I managed to hold on, it was because of them.”

Frantz Fanon, 1963

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