"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.


'Sex and the City' Arrives in Abu Dhabi


by Barbara Nimri Aziz

Are we, Arabs and the lands we so love, a mere theater stage for today’s Orientalists as well? There is hardly a doubt this was our 19th century role. I am beginning to realize little has changed. For confirmation I need only take a glimpse at the explicitly ‘orientalist’-staged production 'Sex and the City 2'. What a brilliant idea boast publicists: —4 sexy girls of Manhattan fame take a fling on the desert, arriving in exotic Abu Dhabi for a weeklong spree. Imagine what this can inspire among millions of suburban wives who follow the stars!

Besides camels and sand there’s fashion and luxurious hotel settings.  Surely Arab hospitality has reached a new zenith. A new stage of orientalism. That’s us. From Morocco to Abu Dhabi, we’re the hottest thing in entertainment.

Of course we've practiced this. Coming out of the 19th century we had Isabelle Eberhardt in North Africa, Gertrude Bell in Iraq; we propped for Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express. We furnished nasty characters for a plethora of espionage war novels during the cold-war years.

Then with political independence and dictatorships we offered our 'oil rich sheiks'. They set new heights in extravagances and vulgarities. Their behaviour may seem obscene but obscenity has its appeal. After all, their profligacy helped pour Arab dollars into the accounts of all those US and European suppliers

I was in Abu Dhabi a year ago where I learned that 100,000 westerners, mainly Europeans, live there and in nearby Dubai. Plenty of work. Wonderful salaries. They can look to the princes for ideas of how to spend.

Today cultural depravation in these desert cultures is no longer a problem; these new urbane populations have discovered international theater, art, film and poetry extravaganzas. All this just a few hundred miles from the ‘war theater’. Thus Abu Dhabi and vicinity offer convenient R& R facilities for those weary warriors from Iraq.

Much of the $US trillion dumped into that war seeps into neighboring states who not only host officers and soldiers. They are the commissary. All conveniences.

Then, as if real battles and bombs are insufficient, we have the rush of Iraq war films. Too dangerous inside Iraq? Jordan and Morocco are handy orientalist theaters for film-companies. You need bombs, terror images, ugly, dumbstruck Arabs, camels? No problem. We are the most hospitable people on the globe.

Morocco is  the actual setting for Sex and the City 2. It seems somebody in the real Abu Dhabi didn’t come through for American stars.


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