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.


Who Will Follow Tunisia?


by Barbara Nimri Aziz

Few cannot be exhilarated and admiring of the revolution in Tunisia? First it’s a rare success in popular struggles against a powerful military machine. Second the protests seem entirely non-violent. Third, we regularly hear warnings about the ‘Arab street’ exploding; time and time again, despite predictions, it never happens, leaving citizens with their impotency affirmed. The power of the establishment seems unshakable. 

Tunisia today proves the exception. The reasons are not difficult to see and comprehend. Yet, the real outcome remains unclear. Twenty-three years of absolute rule mean a power structure and attendant elite is in place; the flight of the president does not displace that. Not yet. So a major task remains for the public—to cleanse the system to remove a structure of co-conspirators, or at least put in place reliable representatives who can and will remove or weaken entrenched interests. Can that be done?  

Then there is the military, doubtless powerful and well-rewarded for keeping the power structure stable all these years. At the same time, it may have been Tunisia’s military leadership that informed President Ben Ali that they could no longer support him. Doubtless they remain in place. So another major issues is: how will a balance be established between any new leadership and this force? 

As for neighboring countries, one does not have to share a border with Tunisia to know what is possible.

Across the world, we see examples of successful people’s movements. Many of those, if not instigated by western powers, especially the US, France and Britain, have been strongly supported by outside interests. France and the US remained silent about the uprising against Ben Ali up to time of his departure.  During years of public discontent, the Tunisian power structure earned the goodwill of these powers. Indeed, Tunisia has established itself as a favored tourist haven—a stable, picturesque Mediterranean seaside to relax in.  

Together with the recommendations of tourists, Tunisia enjoyed foreign support for its security arrangements, for its rigorous cleaning of any militant dissent, Islamic or otherwise. Islamic terrorism provides a convenient label around which to secure western support to rout any political opposition.

Meanwhile the army and security services are assured of purchases of up-to-date weaponry from its supporters. At the same time the economy is dependent on tourism and a few exports like date and olives. Tunisia’s economy had become completely dependent on foreign arrangements, and with the spread of privatization, a new elite became satisfied beneficiaries, creating greater disparity between rich and poor. 

Most European commentators overlook the cozy relationship these leaders have with Western powers. So rather than asking what will happen to neighboring countries, we need to examine the nature of relations between Washington and Paris with their leaders. Ask: what are we supporting when we schedule a holiday to wander through quaint bazaars and be served cocktails on the beach; those easy holidays usually nicely obscuring any awareness of the way the country was governed.  Calibri">

Africom: the US military has for years been looking for a home for AFRICOM, an Africa-based US military presence. The rationale: growing threats of terrorist bases in the vast largely unpopulated areas across north and west Africa. Regular suggestions of terrorists operating in these areas pressure regional governments to permit American protection. Thus far, no country has accepted; in fact, most of them rigorously resist the invitation. This is a major issue for the US and must be kept in mind in any assessment of geopolitical dynamics of the region. 

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