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.


Why I Am Joyful About The Election of Barak Obama


by Barbara Nimri Aziz

It’s gratifying. It’s thrilling. It’s a redemption of the American public; perhaps they now realize that they themselves do make a difference.

I myself cast my presidential vote for third party candidate Ralph Nader; it was a statement of my support for badly needed party reform here in the US. Even though I am a registered member of the Democratic Party. And my Democratic congressional candidate got my vote at the local level.

          But I felt it was Barak Obama who we needed to lead this nation. The decision had to go his way; American voters, sometimes irresponsible and shockingly naïve, had to grasp the terrifying dangers of an alternative.

          Barak Obama is a real leader. Increasingly over the months as I observed the campaign from a distance—I did not attend campaign rallies but reported on campaigns-- I became increasingly convinced that this man possesses extraordinary qualities, including leadership skills.

          My journalism brought me into contact with people across the country, a broader range of citizens than normal. I also read more widely, on all sides of the political spectrum to inform myself as a reporter. And what I learned, although not always what I wanted to believe (more of that next week) about the new Black leader, told me he had to win--had to win not because the alternative held frightening consequences for the nation and the world. Had to win because citizens were being involved in the civil (election) process, if not the real politic alone, more than I witnessed in 40 years living in the US. Had to win not just because of charm or charisma or profound statements. But had to win because Barak Obama is unarguably a brilliant, skilled, and experienced community organizer. One can see the facts: millions more Americans registered to vote; millions of students and youth, new voters, brought into his campaign; millions of Black Americans, politically very sophisticated but marginalized over the years by racism and other inequalities, motivated. Surely the Obama slogan “Yes we can” which could have been a fatuous, prosaic media bite, held special meaning for them. The statement rings deeper for the Americans of African heritage than for anyone else:--

Yes, we can: “We can alter the course of our history;

“We can realize the dreams of Malcolm X, Fanny Lou Hammer, Martin K King, Rosa Parks, WEB DuBois, Anglea Davis and the millions more who fought, who dreamed, who died.

And “Yes we can lead this nation, as president.

“Yes, we can break though the awful, shameful cycle of racism.

“Yes we can change our leadership.

“Yes, we African Americans can speak and act free of the stereotypes we have been associated with, bringing the highest standards of language, thought, compassion to an issue.

“Yes, White Americans can accept us and chose a great and Black American as their president too.”

So November fourth’s victory, I believe, is a special and powerful one for all African Americans. And thereby for the USA.

Some of us witnessed and noted the rallies for Obama--facts the media chose to play down. Hundreds of thousands of Obama supporters flocked to his campaign gathering in numbers never seen before. Those numbers foretold his certain victory on Tuesday.

          Now to Mr. Obama the campaigner. Through all the debates, and all the rebuttals to malicious attacks re Obama’s relationships with individuals, the African American kept his cool. He responded with facts, and in a dignified yet forceful manner. He defended himself without falling into a cycle of counter attacks. In his debates with campaign opponents, first Hillary Clinton, then John McCain, Barak Obama displayed extraordinary composure, respect, and control. He is grace embodied. He is firm; he is confident.

          In Chicago where Obama has lived for over a decade, his community organizing skills are well known. His professional partnership with an astute wife, Michelle, is legend. These he brought to the national campaign in a masterful way. First, essential to any community mobilization, Obama was optimistic. He believed negative situations could be reversed, that despair could be turned to hope and action. And he transferred this to others. He worked with Americans long marginalized—the Arab American, the Hispanic, the Black. His efforts brought them into the political process in Chicago like never before.

All this Obama applied then on the national scale. Not for 100 years or more, has the grass-roots political landscape be altered. Never has such a high percentage of Americans voted. Have you ever seen lines of waiting voters outside the poll booths like that before, except in South Africa, Chile, Nepal, Palestine, and India? This is new for USA!

          Next? Now that Obama is president-elect, what we can expect? Next week, we share thoughts stemming from the irrefutable campaign decisions by Obama --downside of the campaign. Facing some realities.

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Leonard Peltier, imprisoned Native American leader

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