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"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.

 

Syria In and Out of The News

2010-08-07

by Barbara Nimri Aziz

Several media outlets took great pride in announcing the initiative by Syria in banning the full face covering at its universities. Another Muslim head covering story. As if the subject somehow warms the West to Syria, and offers the opening of a dialogue. Oh good. Now our otherwise hostile, yet ‘liberal’ Americans, can feel they one thing in common with a tentative Arab friend. 

At the same time, we hear nothing about the country’s president’s important diplomatic and political initiatives. In recent TV interviews with both the BBC and PBS in the past weeks, Bashar al-Assad has shown himself a capable statesman, and a leader who has opened a dialogue with others, if not the most worthy political ‘friends’ i.e. those sanctioned by Tel Aviv and Washington.  

Besides displaying his diplomatic lucidity and amicable character, Bashar al Assad’s message in those interviews was particularly telling on the political level. He tried repeatedly to the almost hostile British and American hosts to explain a number of important perspectives: a) how Syria and regional states view the world differently than Washington and London, b) that they give higher priority to developing good relations with their own neighbors, c) that they have priority economic interests with their neighbors, and d) they intend to protect those despite attempts by outside powers to divide them. We have to believe that at some level, western leaders got these messages. A pity they could not reach the wider public. But maybe, they did. 

I learned not long after about an even more important event regarding the Syrian leader, namely a successful international efforts further abroad. He was apparently warmly welcomed in a number of South American states who received him. For anyone familiar with the long history of migration form Syria to South America and the ties between the émigrés and their homeland, this would be no surprise. And it is certainly something to build on. This world is fortunately larger than the USA.   

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