[News] How Palestine advocates can support Black struggle
news at freedomarchives.org
Fri Jun 19 17:06:01 EDT 2020
Palestine advocates can support Black struggle
Kristian Davis Bailey
<https://electronicintifada.net/people/electronic-intifada> 19 June 2020
One of the best ways for Americans to display solidarity with Palestinians
is to support the Black revolution in their own country.
The recent Black Lives Matter protests have sparked conversations
about how to act in better solidarity with the Black struggle.
There are two especially prominent questions: how to move beyond rhetorical
statements and how to address anti-Blackness among non-Black Arab
The following are a few suggestions for addressing these issues:
1. Understand that the Black struggle at its core is a 500-year
anti-imperialist and anti-colonial struggle for self-determination
Black people are one of the first and largest victims of Western
colonialism and racial capitalism
<https://www.kzoo.edu/praxis/racial-capitalism/>. We have never received
justice for 500 years of racist violence and exploitation.
The US and most Western countries built their empires through profits from
the Atlantic slave trade.
As an illegitimate settler colony
that was built on the ethnic cleansing of the indigenous population and
enslavement of Africans, the US requires the continuous subjugation of
Black and Indigenous people to maintain its imperial domination abroad.
Accordingly, the greatest internal threat to the US empire is that of a
Black revolution. This is why the last real moment of Black revolution was
so viciously attacked and destroyed
<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cmuqmP50mRc> between the late 1960s and
Solidarity means prioritizing, investing in, and relating to the Black
struggle as having the greatest revolutionary potential in the US.
2. Understand that if you live in the US and are not Indigenous or Black,
you yourself are a settler and must contribute to decolonizing this
While all other ethnic groups may experience discrimination, they are
generally granted citizenship privileges as long as they do not challenge
US colonialism or support Black and Indigenous revolution.
This is similar to the position of Arab
Jews in Israel: subjugated by European Jews but allowed the privileges of
citizenship in exchange for oppressing Palestinians instead of aligning
In each case, anyone living on occupied territory has an obligation to work
in solidarity with the Indigenous and oppressed populations. In the US,
this requires active, day-to-day support and not simply an internalized
stance of “standing with Black people.”
3. Divest from anti-Black racism and invest in Black self-determination.
Focus on shifting power and redistributing resources from communities that
benefit from anti-Black racism instead of circular and largely rhetorical
conversations about addressing anti-Blackness within Arab (and other
Anti-Blackness is not unique to Arab Americans but is a condition present
across non-Black communities due to the divide and conquer structure of
settler-colonialism and capitalism.
With that in mind, we can examine two primary manifestations of
anti-Blackness between Dearborn (the US city with the highest percentage of
Arabs) and its neighbor Detroit (the city with the highest percentage of
The first is the predatory role the Arab merchant class plays in operating
gas stations and liquor stores
across Detroit that extract wealth from the Black community while providing
little of value and engaging in racist practices
against the community.
The second manifestation of anti-Black racism is passive acceptance of
unacceptable conditions of Black death – which include water shutoffs
<https://www.ebony.com/news/detroit-fights-back-405/>, home foreclosures
evictions <https://www.workers.org/2016/06/25700/>, gentrification
inadequate public health
and decades of disinvestment
While it is important to challenge racist family members, focusing on
confronting prejudice does little to transform these material conditions of
An investment campaign for Detroit gas and liquor stores to donate their
profits to Black revolutionary organizations or even to transfer ownership
of shops to Black food co-ops will do far more for the Black community than
convincing a cousin not to refer to Black people as *abeed*, the Arabic for
This work requires long-term community building and political education
around structural racism, moving beyond individual racism.
4. Support Black organizing beyond the well-known and national organizations
Black activists who support Palestine should not be the only Black people
in your political circles. Build alliances with Black groups that reflect
your political commitment to Palestinian liberation and analysis of this
In every part of this country there are Black people actively building
towards our liberation.
There are Black farmers <https://www.blackfoodjustice.org/> working to
secure land and resources so that their communities can be food secure and
self-sufficient. There are meeting spaces
for Black radical organizations facing displacement due to gentrification
and there are many groups that have no offices at all.
In every city there are former Black Panthers and elder Black
revolutionaries seeking to transfer knowledge to future generations.
Find and support these initiatives regularly and generously, host
fundraisers for them, offer them free office space, invite them to speak to
your community and pay them the large fee that you would offer a
Support groups that already have internationalist and anti-imperialist
politics like Black Alliance for Peace <https://blackallianceforpeace.com/>
or Black Agenda Report <https://blackagendareport.com/>.
Showing up to support Black revolution – through money, time, and most
importantly through building and maintaining consistent relationships –
will tangibly combat cultural and material racism.
5. Visit and spend time in our communities
If you’ve paid thousands of dollars to travel to Palestine and learn from
people under struggle, you can travel to Detroit, Chicago or Jackson,
Mississippi <https://cooperationjackson.org/> to do the same (and pay Black
If you’ve volunteered to harvest olives in the occupied West Bank to defend
a farmer’s land from settlers, you can volunteer to plant vegetables here
and defend a Black urban farmer’s land from gentrifiers
(who are also settlers).
If you’ve defended a Palestinian home from being demolished, you can defend
a Black family from being evicted.
If you’ve devoted the better part of your free time to being in solidarity
with a liberation struggle 6,000 miles away, you need to devote the better
part of your life to supporting liberation struggles in your backyard.
Some Palestinian American comrades have insisted that the best way to
support Palestine is to support the Black struggle here, but we need more
forces to operate from this understanding.
6. Understand that Israel’s violence is not unique
Israel is not unique or exceptional in its violence against Palestinians;
Israel is the most recent example of colonial violence that Western Europe
and its descendants have perpetrated for hundreds of years.
My first trip to Palestine was with a group of primarily older white people
who were aghast at Israel’s apartheid treatment of Palestinians, but who
seemed to have no concept of the apartheid conditions facing Black people
in the US.
In a cross-movement space in the US, a Palestinian American declared that
no other country has committed as horrible crimes as Israel has against
Palestinians – to the audible shock of Black and Indigenous comrades in the
Some activists, when commenting on the oppression of Black people in the
US, will say things like “if you think it’s bad here, look at what’s
happening in Palestine.”
While comparisons are sometimes useful for consciousness raising, learn to
offer loud and unequivocal support for the Black struggle without diluting
that solidarity through Palestine, even if the analogy is relevant. And
avoid hijacking conversations about the Black struggle to focus solely on
7. Recognize that justice for the Black struggle is also about justice for
the African diaspora for slavery and colonialism
Build relationships with Africans in other parts of the diaspora. Learn
about our struggles, martyrs, triumphs and failures in addressing the
Haiti (Toussaint Louverture
Ghana (Kwame Nkrumah
Cape Verde (Amilcar Cabral
and Mozambique (Samora Machel
<https://www.marxists.org/subject/africa/machel/index.htm>) have all
experienced great revolutionary struggles and had great leaders.
If you already have relationships with Black/African organizations abroad,
connect them with Black organizers in the US.
8. Decolonize how you seek and practice solidarity
A few years ago, a close comrade from Detroit who is a Black woman went on
a (mostly white) delegation to Palestine. At site after site, Palestinians
would flock to the white/Jewish participants, but would often ignore her.
She went into the trip expecting mutual camaraderie and came back
Her experience mirrors a tendency among Palestinians to seek solidarity
from colonizers (whether the US Congress, the European Union, the UN, or
white/Jewish activists) while deprioritizing colonized people who are
struggling for similar aims. This tendency produced the Oslo accords and
the focus on a two-state “solution” instead of one democratic, decolonized
state with the right of return
for Palestine’s refugees.
Uniting with African struggles in a transnational push for decolonization
is what brings justice for the African and Arab diasporas, whose colonial
borders and refugee crises were fomented by the very European forces the
Palestinian movement currently appeals to.
Understanding that Black people are colonized by the US and have the
revolutionary potential to disrupt the US empire, we need Palestinians
abroad to engage with Black visitors in a more serious way. Take the Black
comrades you encounter aside, ask them about their own experiences trying
to liberate their communities, and share your own insights.
Many of us have lost the cultural understanding of being part of a
collective struggle that Palestinians still possess and remind the world
of. Help us raise our own level of consciousness.
9. Engage in politics of abolition
It should not be hard for someone who understands that the Israeli
occupation, its prisons, settlements, military and system of ethnic
supremacy must be abolished for Palestinian liberation, the occupying
armies (military and police), concentration camps (prisons), and
ethno-supremacist institutions of the settler-colonial United States must
also be abolished <https://www.8toabolition.com/> for Black and Indigenous
With the same energy that the Palestine solidarity movement has pushed
campaigns for boycotting, sanctioning and divesting from Israel’s
occupation, we must push campaigns to boycott and divest from US police and
Because even if we are successful in ending US military aid
to Israel, that annual $3.8 billion would likely go to the US military or
police over education, health care or social services.
Justice for Palestine must fit into a political program of abolishing US
imperialism abroad and at home.
10. Seek the guidance of Palestinians who have engaged in principled
solidarity with the Black struggle
There are people in the Palestinian community who have supported the Black
in the US long before Black-Palestinian solidarity became a popularized
topic. These people are largely left out of movement spaces because they
are not in contemporary organizations, because they are still busy being
embedded in their communities, and because they are working class and can’t
take time for multi-day organizing retreats.
Find out how you can support them and spread their work. Make your own
spaces accessible to their participation.
Finding new strength
The Black community is a complex ecosystem that needs to be nourished in
order to thrive.
We have been weakened and on the defensive since the state’s defeat of the
Black revolution of the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s – which was also the last
moment of the Palestinian revolution’s strength.
Think of the Black Panthers operating survival programs in Black
communities, meeting with the Palestine Liberation Organization in Algiers
visiting Palestinian guerillas in Lebanon and exchanging statements with
Palestinians in revolutionary newsletters: These are the conditions under
which we can truly fight for our liberation as Black people and as
We, therefore, must do everything at our disposal to cultivate the
conditions for the next iteration of Black revolution.
Our lives as Black people depend on it. And your lives do too.
*Kristian Davis Bailey is a writer, activist and co-founder of Black for
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