Why “Colored Folk” Should Care About Palestine

Posted on December 5, 2012

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“Until the philosophy which holds one race superior and another inferior is finally and permanently discredited and abandoned, everywhere is war…” – Emperor Haile Selassie

radio rahim palestineThis past Friday I had a great time raising money for medical relief in Gaza following the latest bombardment of the Palestinians there by the U.S. backed Israeli military.  There never seems to be enough that I can do for any of the wars I’m passionate about ending, but right now I make my strongest contribution to the movements through art and writing.

In front of a large crowd in the basement of St. Stephens Church in NW (a bastion of people led social movements in the city) Radio Rahim led a benefit event full of people standing solidly with Gaza.  Radio Rahim is the man!  With just one weeks notice, he brought people out and raised some real money for medical relief in Gaza.  His boom-bap style of hip-hop was so on point my sons couldn’t help but break dance during his whole set.   Alternative hip-hop band Leftist held it down! Deen is one of the coolest and personable front men you ever wanna see, and his bass and guitar players are Centaurs so you know they put on a show. Head Roc only solidified his position as D.C.’s official voice of resistance. Most emcees have to hunt down their sociopolitical material, Heady just does his joints from Negrophobia and this new album (that I’ve heard,  but you haven’t yet) and he’s guaranteed to be relevant.  I played the hell out of the air guitar that night.  The Grammies should add a “best air guitar in a live hip-hop performance” category, give me the award for the next 3 years.

heady roc, radio rahim, and head roc's favorite PalestinianLooking out in the crowd, it was exciting to see an audience full of Palestinians and other Arabs and a scattering of African Americans and Europeans.  During our sets, both Head-Roc and I joked that we weren’t Arab, as if that wasn’t obvious.  Heady had a step up on me though, considering that his beautiful daughter is Palestinian.  But despite our lack of ethnic connection to the conflict happening in Gaza, we both found that our own artistic material, steeped in the history of the struggle of Africans and African Americans, did much more than hint to the same struggle Gaza is having with imperialism.

The deafening lack African Americans who are vocal about the situation in Gaza isn’t a surprise.  One should not expect more attention to this issue than on the oppressive “civil wars” in the Congo and Somalia, or the violence that is happening anywhere else in the world.  But that isn’t an excuse, and the conflict in Palestine is a lost opportunity for colored people around the globe to see imperialism in it’s rawest and soon to be extinct forms.  Only because understanding the conflict in Palestine will help explain the history of the world over the last few centuries.

I consider myself a student of history.  For me, history is less than a profession (I’m an artist by trade) but more than a hobby (because I use my history lessons in my every day life).  One thing I’m craving to learning more about is the history of European style imperialism and it’s affect on people. Palestine is one of the last haven’s of pure unadulterated European Imperialism.  That force feels (and sometimes actually is) larger than nature itself.  It conquered Africa, Asia, North & South America and Australia.  Understanding this force through history (much in the same way Robert Greene uses historical anecdotes to explain his “48 Laws of Power”) becomes so much easier when you break down the current Palestinian conflict.

Yurugu: An African-Centered Critique of European Cultural Thought and Behavior by Ani, MarimbaDrawing the parallels between the struggles of Black, Latino’s, and Asians (darnit, PEOPLE OF COLOR), and the Palestinian struggle is even easier than expected. Palestine is the Petri dish in which you can see what Marimba Ani (author of the consciousness shaking book Yurugu: An African-Centered Critique of European Cultural Thought and Behavior) calls the “asili”, or seed, of European culture.  If you want to see the raw root meaning of all our international political strife, understand what’s going on in Israel.

You want to understand what it is like for a Seminole to be torn from his homeland and shuffled off during the The Trail of Tears?  Take a look at the partitioning of Palestine and the removal of generations of families from their ancestral land. You want to understand Manifest Destiny, from the first Puritans to land on North America, to the “Wild Wild West” we naively glorify? Understand the Jewish flight to Palestine post World War II, and using their cultural, ethnic and “god given” superiority over the people they are displacing as a shield against criticism.  You want to understand how the European masters, most famously the British in India, or the French in Vietnam, can dehumanize and crush the natives in Asia?  Just watch Al Jazeera coverage of the attacks from a few weeks ago, or see some of the racist advertising used to diminish Palestinian history and culture here in the U.S.  You want to understand the sadistic mindset that led men at the Berlin Conference to slice up the African continent with out regard to the history and culture of those there?  Watch how the U.S. and Zioncivilized man advertisement in a U.S. subwayist Israel operate with complete disdain of and impunity from the international community.

What is happening there is the history of us.  It’s why there are Cherokee in Oklahoma instead of Florida.  It’s why the minority “European Latinos” dominate their darker majority counterparts.  Why civil wars are being fought on all coasts of Africa between civilizations that were never one country in the multiple millenniums before European intervention.  It’s why the Caribbean has only an inking of natives, yet is full of Africans with English names.  This is the culmination of ethnic, cultural and religious bigotry, that now is quickly morphing into a religious style fervor for “democracy” and “free-markets”.  This is the negro spiritual and the blues in the making.  I encourage you to read, study, and catch up to what’s going on in Israel.  I could appeal to your humanity, but instead I’ll appeal to your own sense of understanding.  If you have color, what is going on now in Palestine, is a condensed version of what happened to you.  The success in dehumanizing the victims of this 60 + year occupation, mirrors our inability to see our own dehumanization that we have become active perpetrators of.   I’m not naive enough to think I can  explain the whole Israeli/Palestinian conflict to Real House Wives of Atlanta and Worldstarhiphop fans, but if you love your people, and abhor what the colonialists have done to them, you need to stop, look, listen then at least make some noise about Palestine.  It is the story of us…

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