Support American Citizens Trapped in Gaza

In my previous role at the City of Boston in the Mayor’s Office of Arts & Culture, I had the privilege of working closely with Sammy Nabulsi, our appointed legal counsel. Sammy played a crucial role in our team, helping to bridge the gap between the complex world of legal jargon and the everyday operations of our office.

One of Sammy’s invaluable contributions was translating the often convoluted legalese of the City’s official contracting documents into plain language that I and my colleagues in the MOAC office could grasp. His ability to make legal matters comprehensible was a tremendous asset, and it allowed us to navigate the intricacies of our work more effectively.

What stood out about Sammy was not just his legal expertise but also his fairness and commitment to our mission. He was a trusted advisor, always willing to provide guidance and support when needed. His dedication to the City and its cultural initiatives left a lasting impression on our team.

It’s because of my firsthand experience working with Sammy and my trust in his counsel that I feel compelled to share this urgent call for support regarding the Okal family and other U.S. citizens trapped in Gaza. Sammy’s commitment to justice and fairness extends beyond his professional role, and his Op-Ed, which you can read here, shines a light on a pressing issue that demands our attention.

As we advocate for the safe return of these U.S. citizens, I encourage everyone to heed Sammy’s call and join in raising awareness about this critical situation. Let’s work towards ensuring the safety and security of our fellow Americans, regardless of their location, and demonstrate that the principles of fairness and justice should know no boundaries.

A Night of Comedy and Irony at Dave Chapelle in Boston

Last Friday, I had the pleasure of attending Dave Chapelle’s stand-up comedy show in Boston, and it was an evening filled with humor, unexpected twists, and a dose of irony that left me pondering the complexities of life.

Accompanying me to the show was my Jewish friend, who, like many of us, had been deeply affected by the ongoing events in the Middle East. For him, this night with Dave Chappelle was a chance to escape the weight of the world’s problems, even if just for a few hours, and find solace in humor and irony, qualities that Dave is known for.

The anticipation was palpable as my friend and I joined the throngs of people waiting to enter the venue. As we settled into our seats, the lineup, which included the talented Donnell Williams, set the stage for what promised to be an unforgettable night. Dave Chappelle took the spotlight and, as expected, delivered his signature brand of humor, addressing topics in the unique way only he can.

However, the unexpected occurred when someone in the audience shouted, “Free Palestine.” Dave responded by advocating for an end to violence. But then, another voice from the crowd yelled, “Shut the f**k up!” It was a moment of tension that seemed to hang in the air.

Dave seized the moment, cutting through the tension with, “You paid to come to my show, and you’re telling me to shut up?”

He then went on to engage in a passionate and impromptu rant about the situation in the Middle East, with some members of the audience, myself included, cheering him on in his call for an end to the violence.

However, the irony of the situation became apparent a few days later when I read reviews of the concert on Reddit. It turned out that the person who had yelled, “Shut up,” was not addressing Dave but a group of disruptive women who had been making it difficult for him to enjoy the evening.

This unexpected twist left me shaking my head at the complexities and ironies of life. In a room filled with laughter and camaraderie, it took just a few words to create a moment of tension, followed by a rallying cry for peace. It was a reminder that even in the world of comedy, life’s intricacies and misunderstandings can take center stage.

What is your assignment?

If you already know it, that’s good. Now, all you have to do is complete it.

As you embark on your first year of college, I want to share my own journey with you, in the hopes that it might serve as an adventurous story about following your passions. When I went to college, I had a clear assignment in mind: to write. But not just any writing—I aspired to become a national poet.

My journey was one filled with words, emotions, and the relentless pursuit of my dreams. I used poetry as my compass to navigate through the intricate landscapes of emotional and social barriers. Poetry became my voice when I struggled to find the words, and it became my solace in times of uncertainty.

Each poem I penned was a step forward, a brushstroke on the canvas of my life story. I found inspiration in the everyday moments, the struggles, and the triumphs. And with every stanza, I discovered that my assignment wasn’t just about becoming a poet; it was about embracing the adventure of life itself.

College is a time of self-discovery and growth, a period when you’ll encounter challenges and opportunities that will shape your future. My advice to you is to hold onto your assignment, your passion, your purpose. Let it be your guiding star, even when the path seems uncertain. Like a poet crafting a masterpiece, you have the power to shape your own narrative.

So, as you embark on this exciting journey, remember that your life is an adventurous story waiting to be written. Embrace your passions, follow your dreams, and use them as tools to break down the barriers that stand in your way. Your assignment may evolve and change, but the essence of who you are and what you’re meant to do will remain. Write your story, one word at a time, and let it be an epic tale of determination, creativity, and the pursuit of your dreams.

From Bondage to Booths: Sukkot and Me

As a black person, I often find myself contemplating the intricacies of my identity in the Western world, where many of us have lost direct connections to our ancestral roots. In the context of America, “black” encompasses all shades of melanin, and to me, it embodies a profound beauty – a place from which we can emerge and create, even in the darkest of times.

However, if you’re a black individual in the United States, there’s a significant chance you may have never heard of Sukkot, a Hebrew holiday outlined in the books of Leviticus and Deuteronomy. In ancient Israel, there were three festivals throughout the year, each with its unique significance, occurring approximately as follows on the Julian calendar:

1. Pesach (Passover): This festival, celebrating the Israelites’ liberation from bondage in Egypt, typically falls in March or April (Exodus 12).

2. Shavuot (Festival of Weeks): Marking the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai, this festival usually occurs in May or June (Exodus 34:22; Leviticus 23:15-16).

3. Sukkot (Festival of Tabernacles): It’s a time in the Hebrew calendar when we’re encouraged to gather with loved ones, embrace kindness, and revel in life’s simple joys. Central to this festival is the construction of a booth, known as a “sukkah,” where we are meant to spend time, rejoice, and remember the struggles of the Israelites in the wilderness by the grace of God after their escape from bondage in Egypt. Sukkot typically takes place in September or October on the Julian calendar (Leviticus 23:33-43).

As an African American, I approach this scripture with an understanding of its biblical and historical context. I can’t help but draw connections between the Hebrew Israelites and black people, both of whom experienced the harsh reality of slavery. While our experiences may differ, the Bible’s teachings transcend time and speak to all of us who have emerged from bondage and times of living through the wilderness by the grace of God. I, for one, am one such person. All of my four great-great grandparents were born enslaved and lived to see Emancipation. Their names are recorded in the Freedmen’s Bureau, established in the War Department by an act of Congress on March 3, 1865 yet abolished in 1872.

When the Old Testament instructs the Israelites to observe the Festival of Booths (Sukkot), it is to be done so to serve as a poignant reminder of bondage, liberation, and the blessings of God. For African Americans and our ancestors, this holiday carries a parallel significance. It’s a reminder of the trials we’ve endured and the enduring joy that God has granted us.

In essence, we can reclaim and celebrate Sukkot for it resonates deeply with our shared history. Among holidays and celebrations unique to African Americans and almost the entire African diaspora, this one is perfect because it calls you to illuminate the journey from metaphorical darkness to light, from bondage to freedom, and from despair to joy – a narrative we all know all too well.

A Lesson in Respect for the Departed

As I embarked on a visit to the southern part of the country, I knew I was in for a unique experience. My primary goal was to spend time with my beloved sister and accompany her on a shopping spree for an upcoming cruise. Little did I know that a simple car ride down a main street would provide me with a profound insight into the cultural differences between the South and my hometown of Boston.

As we cruised down the street, taking in the sights and sounds of the southern town, my sister’s attention was suddenly drawn to a peculiar sight. She mentioned that there must be a funeral taking place, as all the cars around us had respectfully pulled over to the side of the road. Without hesitation, my sister followed suit, joining the line of vehicles patiently waiting.

From my seat in the car, I observed the solemn procession passing by on the opposite side of the road. The sight was awe-inspiring. As the cortege made its way through the town, it was evident that a deep sense of reverence permeated the air. This act of paying homage to the departed moved me profoundly, and it led me to ponder how a similar scenario might unfold in my hometown of Boston.

Knowing the fast-paced nature of city life back home, I couldn’t help but imagine a starkly different scene. In Boston, where life moves at an accelerated pace, it seemed inconceivable that we would pause our daily activities to acknowledge the passing of a stranger. We would likely speed by, unaffected by the sorrowful procession, lost in the frenzy of our own lives.

It was in that moment of reflection that I uttered the words, “This is why I like the South.” The culture of respect exhibited by the community for even the departed is a cherished aspect of Southern life. It serves as a reminder that amidst the hurried chaos of modern living, there is immense value in pausing if only for a moment, to honor those who have left this world.

In this age of constant motion and ever-increasing demands on our time, the Southern tradition of paying respects to the deceased carries a powerful message. It reminds us to embrace compassion and empathy, to acknowledge the fragility of life, and to appreciate the significance of every individual’s journey, even in death.

This encounter left an indelible mark on my heart. It made me realize the importance of fostering a culture that values the departed and acknowledges the profound impact they have had on our lives. Whether we choose to celebrate their accomplishments or mourn their loss, our ability to honor and remember them brings solace and unity to our communities.

As I continued my journey through the South, I carried with me the profound lesson of respect I had learned that day. It became a catalyst for introspection, prompting me to explore how I could incorporate this value into my own life and community. Perhaps, by embracing a similar sense of reverence, we could bridge the gap between our hectic routines and the deeper human connections that give life meaning.

In the end, it is the small gestures, such as pulling over for a funeral procession, that exemplify the core values of a community. The South taught me the beauty of honoring the departed, and for that, I am forever grateful. It is my hope that we can all learn from this cultural exchange and strive to create a world where respect for even the dead is not confined to a region but becomes a universal practice, enriching our lives and touching our souls.

Vegan Pumpkin Soup

It’s October, and if you live in the Northeastern United States, not too long ago, you used to be able to take your evening walk in the 7 o’clock sun and still get home in time to see a golden blaze burning in the sky. But now the fall has fallen and the green leaf is a fiery orange, a brilliant yellow, and purple too. Winter is coming, and the fruits of the season now fill the baskets in your home: bounties of beets and fennel, brussels sprouts, pumpkin, parsnips, and carrots. All are good for a seasonal soup like this vegan pumpkin soup below with its West African accents that my birthmate Tarkpor shared with me just recently. It was good to the very last drop, and I can’t wait to make it for myself. In the meantime, try it out and let me know how it goes.

Prep Time: 30 Minutes
Cook time: 60


1 tablespoon of olive oil 

1/2 cup fresh ground peanut butter

1/2 bag small brown lentils

4 cloves of garlic chopped  

5 cloves

2 onions roughly chopped

2 carrots (cut crosswise into thin rounds)

4 tomatoes chopped

1 white sweet potato (peeled and chopped)

3 mushrooms (chopped)

3 twigs of thyme

2 tablespoons of fresh basil

About ten whole okras

Half of a Kabocha squash (peeled and chopped)

Seasoning to taste (this cold be salt, pepper, or a vegetable bouillon)


  1. Add 32 ounces of water to a soup pot and bring to boil.
  2. Then add peanut butter and cloves to the boiling water. Turn fire to medium.
  3. In a pan, sauté mushroom, garlic, thyme, and seasoning. Then add all of the other ingredients and allow to stew for fifteen minutes.
  4. Add stew to the soup pot. Cook on medium for 40 minutes, or until pumpkin and potatoes are soft and tender.


The Last Words

When all is said and done (or the other way around), give the other person a platform to share their last words with you. This is probably the best thing you can do in a relationship that is sunsetting. No matter how painful the stinger of those last words on your heart ?, do not dare offer up a response. Let your’s be the deafening silence. Your heart will hear you and you won’t even have to use your words to express the anger and disappointment you feel inside. Be gentle with yourself. Knowing, for certain, that this too shall pass.

No socializing until April 30, 2023

I don’t even know which day this is of the coronavirus shutdown, but I do know it sucks to not be able to get my hair, and toes done. I know some people are going through scenarios more worse than my own, but since it’s my post, I would like to spread my grievances here, like that freaking virus.

thank you

Being in the Age of Coronavirus

I took a walk today and ended up at the Forest Hills Cemetary, the final resting place of e.e. cummingsAnn SextonElma Lewis and a host of other great souls. This walk was particularly needed because it’s week two of the Coronavirus shut down in America.

Last week they ordered us to practice social distancing, like try not to meet up with people, but call or Zoom them into your computer screen.
This week we’ve been warned to keep 6 feet between ourselves and the next person, basically, stay in the house.

All of the places I like to frequent on a Friday night, like Ashmont Grill — just a short walk from my house in Dorchester — have been shut down.

Arts and cultural institutions, specifically theatres and places that bring people together for laughter and the simple reminder that we’re all in this together, are closed indefinitely without a contingency plan in place. Businesses that offer a gathering place for people have had to lay off thousands of employees due to this thing. We don’t know when or how it will pass. The safety of people is paramount and as a result, we need to stay away from each other. Someone even appropriated Emma Lazurus. They said, “Until all of us are safe, we are none of us safe.”

Italy is in tears.

California is on lockdown.

Boston is thinking.

And me?

I’m taking long walks and reflecting on this solemn moment in time.

The Sentinel

Some time ago I interviewed the sculptor Fern Cunningham, creator of this monument. She called it “The Sentinel” or a guardian whose job is to stand and keep watch.

I pray we all have a sentinel in our lives today.