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.


Whose revolution is this anyway?


by Barbara Nimri Aziz

Watch for another attempt to ‘orientalize’ the experience of the Arab peoples today.  

Why do western powers always want to take credit for beautiful, unpredicted epic moments they’ve had no credible role in?  

Even while world leaders congratulate Egyptians and Tunisians on their newly won victories, their minions prepare stories of heroic Americans’ and American institutions’ contributions to those transformations.

With the Egyptian revolution nearing its nadir, we are regularly updated by a televised statement from US President Obama who “is dealing with the unfolding events”—i.e. is defining this history. We learn that a student in Texas saved the revolution by posting tweets from  messages phoned to him when the Egyptian authorities closed down their IT and mobile networks. We share the brutalization of CNN reporters being roughed up. This really offers a firsthand experience of Egyptian police brutality. The heroic young Egyptian Google executive credited with starting Egypt’s FaceBook revolution wants to meet the FB founder, we are told. We are assured that American military leaders are in regular touch with their Egyptian counterparts whose confidence they have enjoyed for years.  

Americans—the administration and the people--- have  a troubling habit of placing themselves center stage in any positive social or economic change around the globe. Americans will believe the rewriting of this history in their direction. Regrettably. So, they’ll fail to ‘get it’. So they’ll remain arrogant.

This is one time that the Arab peoples at least know how their own extraordinary achievement—(thus far) toppling two US- friendly tyrants, both American bred—was a special moment they themselves planned, executed and risked. That makes it more special. And perhaps more likely to succeed in the long term.  

February 1, ten days before the resignation of Mubarak, Daily Star editor and international commentator Rami Khouri, wrote: “To appreciate what is taking place in the Arab world today you have to grasp the historical significance of the events…. we are witnessing the unraveling of the post-colonial order that the British and French created in the Arab world in the 1920s and '30s and then sustained - with American and Soviet assistance - for most of the last half century.

Khouri warns “The events unfolding before our eyes are the third most important historical development in the Arab region in the past century, and to miss that point is to perpetuate a tradition of Western Orientalist romanticism and racism… I agree with his assessment that “This is a revolt against specific Arab leaders and governing elites who implemented policies that have seen the majority of Arabs dehumanized, pauperized, victimized and marginalized by their own power structure; but it is also a revolt against the tradition of major Western powers that created the modern Arab states and then fortified and maintained them as security states after the 1970s.”

The awakening that Khouri correctly highlights is the driving force behind the anti-dictator movement from one country to another. It is unstoppable. Any Arab, at one level or another, wherever he or she lives, who has experienced the victimization and marginalization that Khouri refers to is bursting with exhilaration and pride today. We know this is a watershed. There is no going back.   

Can western leaders --and their journalists and commentators: all those Middle East experts--who long ago ceased to expect anything outstanding and determined from Arab peoples really appreciate the change?

They should. Because a parallel message to “get out Mubarak” is “get out USA”. At the very least it cries “Move Over. You can no longer take our acquiescence and stupidity for granted.” 


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