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.


A Mosque Or A Shared Holiday?


by Barbara Nimri Aziz

National media headline ongoing, and growing, controversy over the proposed Cordoba Islamic Center in downtown New York City. New York mayor Michael Bloomberg has given his wholehearted support to the leaders of the proposed religious center. He vows that it will be built. In his endorsement of the mosque, Bloomberg affirms the religious rights of all Americans and recognition of Muslims as an integral part of city life. Thank you Mr. Mayor.  

But are there not other perhaps less confrontational means of establishing these principles? I can suggest one: that’s the inclusion of Muslim Eid holy days in the city’s school curriculum. By removing your objection to the Eid holiday plan you may even achieve real integration and deeper respect for Islam. 

In general the acceptance in the US of its Islamic peoples is an uphill struggle. We recognize this. Strategies and priorities need to be carefully thought out.  

Opposition to any mosque project in lower Manhattan could have been anticipated. Resistance is so strong it demonstrates still widespread and shameful anti-Islamic sentiments across the country. The issue promises to remain a source of antagonism; opposition tactics will doubtless stir up even more anti-Islamic feelings. These must be laid bare for the world to examine. At the same time they must be forcefully and rationally confronted. Dispute—in the courts and in the streets—is the history of American justice, and injustice.  

Anti-Islam opponents vow to continue their challenge even after the New York City Council cleared one hurdle to the mosque’s construction, deciding the building under question was not a city landmark and was thereby available for commercial or other private use. Demonstrations are ongoing; OpEds commentaries are plentiful. (Although our Muslims themselves seem to be letting others speak on their behalf.)  

With Mayor Bloomberg’s endorsement of the mosque in question, the Muslim community has a good friend on its side.  

But Mr. Mayor: you could have chosen something more reasonable than this nationally debated and heavily polarized subject which could explode. You could allow the City Council vote on another issue-- adoption Muslim holidays in the New York City schools-- to move ahead. Several cities already recognize Muslim holy days.  

Last year, the same New York City Council voted overwhelmingly (50-1) to adopt the Muslim holiday proposal. It needed only your nod to make it law. You refused, Mr. Bloomberg. And that issue languishes. Meanwhile the question of a new city mosque introduces tension and controversy. Do we not already have abundant crises associated in the minds of the public with Islam? 

Do we not have sufficient mosques—almost 200—in the city today?  

A new downtown mosque will, we are told, be an educational center. Good. But surely the inclusion of Muslim schools holidays for New York City’s more than one million children can serve a wider educational role. All children as well as their parents would learn what these holidays mean and share the Muslims values represented therein. The Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha in our school calendar would incorporate Muslim values in the lives of many more than a single mosque will.

Mayor Bloomberg and our Muslim leadership need to get their priorities in order.

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