Friday, January 24, 2014

Obama quote [ref. to MLK and Malcolm X] in the New Yorker

He talked about a visit that he made last year to Hyde Park Academy, a public high school on Chicago’s South Side, where he met with a group of about twenty boys in a program called Becoming a Man. “They’re in this program because they’re fundamentally good kids who could tip in the wrong direction if they didn’t get some guidance and some structure,” Obama recalled. “We went around the room and started telling each other stories. And one of the young men asked me about me growing up, and I explained, You know what? I’m just like you guys. I didn’t have a dad. There were times where I was angry and wasn’t sure why I was angry. I engaged in a bunch of anti-social behavior. I did drugs. I got drunk. Didn’t take school seriously. The only difference between me and you is that I was in a more forgiving environment, and if I made a mistake I wasn’t going to get shot. And, even if I didn’t apply myself in school, I was at a good enough school that just through osmosis I’d have the opportunity to go to college.
“And, as I’m speaking, the kid next to me looks over and he says, ‘Are you talking about you?’ And there was a benefit for them hearing that, because when I then said, You guys have to take yourselves more seriously, or you need to have a backup plan in case you don’t end up being LeBron or Jay Z . . . they might listen. Now, that’s not a liberal or a conservative thing. There have been times where some thoughtful and sometimes not so thoughtful African-American commentators have gotten on both Michelle and me, suggesting that we are not addressing enough sort of institutional barriers and racism, and we’re engaging in sort of up-by-the-bootstraps, Booker T. Washington messages that let the larger society off the hook.” Obama thought that this reaction was sometimes knee-jerk. “I always tell people to go read some of Dr. King’s writings about the African-American community. For that matter, read Malcolm X. . . . There’s no contradiction to say that there are issues of personal responsibility that have to be addressed, while still acknowledging that some of the specific pathologies in the African-American community are a direct result of our history.” 

The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B. Du Bois; 1903 (full text)

Also available as a pdf here from Penn State.

 Dr. Cornel West taught a class at Union Theological Seminary that was built on a close reading of this text along with Du Bois' later Dusk at Dawn.

Thursday, January 23, 2014


Beautiful post on contentment by my dear brother David Coolidge drawing from the Qur'an, hadith, and sages, Shaykh 'Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani, Imam al-Ghazali and Ibn Ata’illah, ma sha Allah.

Also see this lecture by Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad on Contentment (Riḍā)

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Monday, January 20, 2014

A Movement Strikes Back: Responses to Daniel Gordis' analysis of Conservative Judaism today

From The Jewish Week to Ha’aretz, from many pulpits and all over the blogosphere, people have been talking about Daniel Gordis’ “requiem” for Conservative Judaism. We continue this lively, instructive conversation with seven responses from some of the movement’s most thoughtful teachers and rabbis, along with a response from Jonathan D. Sarna, one of the leading historians of American Jewry.