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.


Libya war means "Africom, here I come!"


by Barbara Nimri Aziz

America’s pet AFRICOM needs a home—if not by coercion, then by war. 

It’s not really about oil. It’s about a nice little piece of real estate strategically located in Africa. Just a few hundred square miles would be fine, hardly noticeable among the vast stretches of uninhabited (sic) Sahara, for example. 

For the past decade American military strategists have been house-hunting. They desperately need a continental base for their Africa regional military command, known as AFRICOM.  

Although working for years on this project, with an African American general appointed to head the project, Washington’s AFRICOM is still homeless. The US has been unable to convince (or coerce) even friends like Nigeria or Ghana to welcome a US military installation. Steadfast rejections. Although any host would find the arrangement very profitable, and it would doubtless offer it security (as per Jordan with its easy access to US forces in Iraq).  

Several attempts have been made to entice first a West African state, then some North African leader. Now a chance presents itself: Libyans' pursuit of democracy. What an opportunity Libya now provides for Washington’s military’s needs!   

Occasionally a political analyst raises the issue of Africom, and then only tangentially, in their review of west aggression against Libya. Mainly they see the West using humanitarian issues, peoples’ thirst for democracy and the newfound madness of a leader to justify military attacks and a probable invasion.  

Michel Collon of Investig’Action, in his excellent overviews of the Middle East, points to the long–established plan (led by France) for control of the Mediterranean. Only Libya remained a major obstacle in France’s realization of complete command of the area, he suggests. (Although Syria at some point may also been seen as rejectionist.) I refer you to Collon for details of France’s regional plans and Libya’s role therein; but let’s return to US interests in Africa. 

For more than a decade military wars and disease raged across Africa with little American concern. During this time however, North Africa was symbolically, economically and diplomatically sliced away from the Middle East. It became ‘South Med’ or  ‘The Maghreb’ in EU parlance. 

Before the current revolutions across Arab States, the USA became aware of how vital Africa was as an alternative source of oil and gas. Not insignificant was China’s expansion in the area too. In 2008 an Algerian observer noted the shift: Africa was no longer just an AIDs story. It was a new place for western investments!  

Yes, China was ahead of the game, with investments, development projects, partnerships and an estimated million workers in Africa. (Note how these men suddenly appear in the story of the flight of migrant workers from Libya.)  The USA and Europe awakened to the fact that China had to be matched if not thwarted on the rich continent. That was one issue. Another was protection for its investments. 

Since 2008 US has been polishing its image of Africa, and it has launched itself anew into the area. But it could find no host for the critical AFRICOM component of its neo-colonial policy. Even as the USA heightened the profile of AQIM (Al-Qaeda in the Maghreb) neither Algeria nor Mali would buy into it; not Morocco or Mauritania.  

On the surface the USA has no immediate interest-besides humanitarian aid and democracy, they say-- in North Africa, especially in Libya. Yes, Libya is rich in energy resources, but as in the case of Iraq, it has never refused to sell to the west. On its side, through one European intermediary or another, the west never totally dismissed the unpredictable and irascible Libyan leader, or his sons. Libyan investments are spread throughout the industries of European partners and the USA.  

Suddenly all those assets are frozen, and the march towards Tripoli is on. The US is a major partner in this war, despite what the president claims, and when victory is at hand, AFRICOM will be the first investment in Libyan real estate. 

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