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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.

 

Time to hear from Arab Americans

2011-03-23

by Barbara Nimri Aziz

Time for Arabs in America to follow the lead of their families in the Arab World. 

Across the entire globe people are watching the revolutions in the Arab world with some admiration (and apprehension). Leaders who share the excesses and abuses of those under attack doubtless feel threatened now. 

For most of the world these ongoing events are arguably inspiring. We witness the restoration of dignity in Arab voices and on the faces of Arabs from Morocco to Iraq.  

Arab Americans, particularly as it became clear that the former Egyptian president was doomed, dare to come into the streets to voice their support for Egyptian people. Of course their help was not needed in Tahrir Square. Nor is it required by the Yemenis, or Bahrainis as millions risk all to achieve that dignity that is now, finally, within their grasp. In the US, I am waiting for the spark to ignite our Arab Americans. 

Americans of Arab heritage have enjoyed freedoms and successes of various degrees in the USA. But have they enjoyed real self-esteem? I think not.  

In a few cases where wealth is accompanied by distinction, individuals may experience precious dignity. Yet, the large majority of us are silent. As immigrants we remained silent about the oppression of the people in our homelands, silent over US complicity in the suppression of freedoms of sisters and brothers across the Arab world, and silent on justice issues at home in the US. 

We have a small handful of Arab commentators coming forward to condemn Israeli aggression and racism or offer haughty political analyses of ‘conditions’  in the Arab world. On the whole though, until dictators are about to fall, we remain passive and timid. Privately we may express our frustration and outrage. A few may author complex academic tomes for graduate students to pore over. That is the extent of our involvement in any liberation struggle.  

In the US, we concentrate on our personal liberation, mainly directed at getting a U.S. visa and a fine house.  Some of my Arab American colleagues bemoan this meekness. Yet few of us dare to act. It is a formidable task to be sure, especially after 1990 when the US targeted Iraq, and Arabs became the focus of heightened US surveillance.   

Still, why settle in the US on the claim that this is where freedom is to be found?  

For a long time I have been struck by how few Arab Americans one finds in institutions of justice and community activism. Among the ranks of U.S. teachers, lawyers, artists and filmmakers whose message is focused on liberty, we see precious few Arab Americans.  

The USA is a country where books and films can have immense social and political impact and where civil rights attorney are in the frontline of the struggle for justice worldwide. How many Arab American writers, filmmakers and lawyers can you name among them?  

Knowing the conditions our families live under, knowing the modern techniques of protest, the achievements of earlier American freedom fighters, tasting and benefiting from freedoms (won by others) in their new chosen homeland, they ought to be leading the way. Shame.  

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