So my friend Kameryn and I went walking tonight in our sports bras bc its humid as fuck. All was tolerable (not that we weren’t commented on several times by passing men) until heading back towards my apartment down a darker street, where a man approached us and said we had to come with him. We told him no thank you and crossed the street. At this point we were literally chased back and forth across the street by this dude while he proceeded to call us his property and only backed off when I had the police on the phone. The police officer told me that he couldn’t really help me, that sending a squad car for that would be pointless and that I was close enough to a station to just walk there—and I’m like what do you want to listen to me get straight killed on the fucking phone for? Like, what is the matter with you?

When we realized the police just weren’t going to help us Kam and I took off running to the nearest busy street and lost the guy. At this point another man at the bus stop started trying to talk to us and follow us and when I told him to please fuck off he started screaming “you white bitches get back here” and chased us into a donut shop, which was well-lit and busy enough that he left us alone. At this point a girl at the counter ordering a coffee looks at us and goes “are you really going to get a doughnut after going for a run?” and after we explained what had happened proceeded to ask if the men at the bus stop who had just chased us were “black people”. 

You couldn’t make this shit up, you guys. I want to die. 

Students show solidarity by helping Columbia rape survivor carry her mattress
September 12, 2014

Responding to the call to “carry the weight together,” fellow students helped Emma Sulkowicz, the Columbia senior who is lugging her mattress everywhere while her rapist remains on campus, carry it from the courtyard to her class yesterday

The collective carry was organized by students and alumni who want ”to help Emma carry the weight of the physical mattress, give her and other survivors of sexual assault in our community a powerful symbol of our support and solidarity, and show the administration that we stand united in demanding better policies designed to end sexual violence and rape culture on campus.”

As Alexandra wrote, the idea of “carrying the weight together” holds much symbolic resonance — not just as a way of lightening the burden on survivors but also by highlighting the collective sacrifice required to eliminate it. “If we all helped carry the weight of injustice, we could not bear it,” she wrote. “And so we would finally stop tolerating what we’ve been content to force others to carry alone.” And it makes a damn powerful visual too.

Source

I just got back from ‪#‎Ferguson‬, where they issued a state of emergency and curfew to give cover to a crackdown. A quote from a young man I met during a march this evening:

"That cop’s in hiding, but he’s freer than we are. We’re protesting, but we ain’t free."

If the cops really wanted to avoid confrontation tonight, all they had to do was arrest the cop they know killed ‪#‎MikeBrown‬. Instead, they ignored community demands, trampled on people’s rights, and unleashed more violence.

As another protester said to me:

“I’ve been out here the last three days, and it’s always peaceful until the cops show up.  You saw it back there, we’re grilling, people having a good time, talking, building community.  It’s the police.  They’re the ones causing the violence.  Thursday they didn’t come out and nothing happened….I heard about the curfew, but I’m not leaving.  They can’t tell me to go inside and then shoot tear gas at us while we’re on our front lawns.  So I’m staying out.  If they want war, they can have it.”

‪#‎Solidarity‬ with Ferguson

WHAT TO DO ABOUT GAZA

I have seen a lot of people in my life, myself included, going through hard times right now with the extreme escalation of colonial violence in Palestine. People are sad, angry, and praying. Many people are overwhelmed. Worried for our families. Many people in our communities are learning more about Palestine for the first time, and want to know ways to connect. It’s hard to know what to do from so far away, and easy to feel helpless when you don’t know what to do.

This list is for all of us, to recommit to the work we’ve been doing, to get grounded when this massacre has knocked us off our feet, and to get connected where we haven’t been before.

Please share with your communities!

1. BDS – BOYCOTT, DIVESTMENT, & SANCTIONS

Boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) is a movement that was called for by Palestinian civil society. It is a grassroots, nonviolent form of resistance that there are so many ways to participate in.

Here is the Palestinian Civil Society Call for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions.

Divestment: 

Get involved with (or start) a campaign for your university, workplace, union, etc. to pull out its investments in companies that are connected to Israeli human rights offenses. 

Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) has led many successful divestment campaigns at universities across the country, (click here to get involved). 

We Divest is a project of Jewish Voice for Peace, which has successfully pressured TIAA-CREF around its occupation investments (click here to get involved). 

Consumer Boycott:

Here is a quick list of companies that profit from Israeli human rights offenses.

Consumer boycott is about individually deciding not to buy these products, but it’s also about popular education. Flyering to educate people about what’s behind this stuff. Encouraging local shops not to sell these products. There are ongoing successful consumer boycott campaigns against SodaStream and Sabra Hummus, for example.
Cultural and Academic Boycott:

As artists and academics, it’s very important that we decolonize the way we produce our work, and don’t let it be used to normalize violent structures.

There is a set of guidelines for cultural and academic boycott from the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) that artists and academics can sign on to (Academic boycott guidelines here & Cultural boycott guidelines here). 

If you are an Israeli citizen, you can also sign the Boycott from Within statement, and get involved with their work (click here to get involved).

An excellent resource, which can help you find information for whichever kind of BDS campaign you decide to get involved with, is the Who Profits? database.

2. DONATE

Donating money is not an action that everyone can afford to get involved with, but if you have even a small amount to spare, here are some great places to donate to:

Middle East Children’s Alliance
Palestinian Center for Human Rights
American Near East Refugee Aid (ANERA)
United Palestinian Appeal

3. PARTICIPATE IN LOCAL PROTESTS & VIGILS

Protests and vigils are a great way to make the Palestinian struggle visible in your city, and also to build community with other people who are feeling the same way you are.

If you go to a protest, come through with good friends that you can trust, and have a plan for what to do if police or counterprotestors escalate.
For organizers: Palestinian liberation is connected so intricately with all of our liberation. Reach out to members of other oppressed communities and build coalitions, feature their voices at your demonstration (for example, African, Latin@, and Indigenous activists). Keep racial, gender, and disability justice as the foundations of your work.

4. MAKE ART! & SUPPORT ARTISTS

This is giving us a whole lot of feelings, right?! Write/draw/paint/act/sing/print/dance it out! Bring attention to Gaza and Palestine within your artistic communities.

Endorse the USACBI statement, commit to its principles. Educate other artists you know about it, and encourage them to sign as well. 
Tell your story and tell it true. Be ethical and accountable in the way you handle the stories of others.

If you are not an artist: Help support Palestinian artists, and artists from other communities in struggle against Israeli apartheid. Donate, purchase work, host events, for example.

5. CHECK YOURSELF

Make sure that the information you have is accurate. Behind every single news story is a human being with a life as full as your own, and you owe it to them to get the facts straight. Do not re-post gory images of dead children on social media with no context—this is extremely disrespectful.

Below are a few (but not the only) reliable English-language news sources:

Palestinian Centre for Human Rights
The Electronic Intifada
Al Jazeera English
Ma’an News Agency
Jadaliyya

Read and understand the BDS call, and its demands and guidelines, and do not present false information about it. This is very important, because oftentimes even people who are part of the Palestine solidarity movement can misunderstand the guidelines, and fall for Zionist misinformation about them. Read the calls for yourself and figure out how you can plug in. (see above for the guidelines). Think about what your role is in this movement.

Ask yourself some questions before you take action:

  • What is your relationship to Israeli apartheid historically, and the recent colonial violence?
  • What are you directly complicit in and what can you do to address that?
  • Who are you being accountable to?

Amplify the voices of, and support people who are more directly impacted than you. Step back when you need to and when you are told to. Avoid false and oppressive binaries, like Arab/Jew. Remember that Israeli apartheid is a multi-layered system, and bring that understanding to your work. Think about your social position in the country where you’re doing this work, and consistently check yourself on this, too. Again, keep racial, gender, and disability justice as the foundations of your work. Don’t judge people for not being able to take part in the same forms of resistance as you.

6. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF & EACH OTHER

  • Mourn the dead. Speak their names. Publicly and privately. Do rituals if this helps you.
  • Read/watch/listen to/share poems/music/film/art by Palestinian artists.
  • Make art. (even if you are not “an artist.”)
  • Write it out. (even if you are not “a writer.”)
  • Cook Palestinian food. Share it with your loved ones.
  • Take time and space to feel.
  • Lean on your friends and let them lean on you.
  • Tune out the news if you need to. (Keep the news on, if you need to be reassured by the steady flow of information.)
  • Don’t go to protests/demos/events alone.
  • Take alone time if you need it.
  • Turn to your faith if that helps you.
  • Stay committed to healing, and recognize healing as part of the work.
  • If you are close with them, stay in touch with your family and friends in Palestine.
  • Remember, it is not your responsibility to educate your oppressors!
  • Keep checking yourself. 
  • “We teach life, sir” by Rafeef Ziadah 
  • “What I Will” by Suheir Hammad
  • Affirm life. Affirm life. Affirm life.

Editor’s Note: This submission’s author wished to remain anonymous. Feel free to add to this list upon sharing, and please, please, signal boost!

"On White People, Solidarity and (Not) Marching for Mike Brown"

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Photo Source: Jamal Williams

On Thursday August 14th, 2014, Feminsta Jones called for a National Moment of Silence (NMOS) to pay ‘respect to fatal victims of police shootings and brutality’. New Orleans, a (for now…) majority black city with a long history of police violence against black bodies (including the famous case of Henry Glover, an unarmed black man who was shot by police who then burned his body in an attempted cover up), took part in the NMOS by hosting a vigil in Lafayette Park. According to the NOLA Defender, a young black woman named Chanelle Batiste organized and led the vigil activities:

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Left Photo: Chanelle Batiste, Photo Source NOLA Defender

Right Photo: NOLA crowd in moment of silence, Photo Source Instagram @BMike2c

I showed up to the park and saw a racially diverse crowd of between 100-200 people. The largest racial groups that were visually represented were whites and blacks, and my initial thoughts were, ‘Well, if all these white folks gathered here today then they must at some level understand the targeting and criminalization of black bodies and its consequences, including Mike Brown’s death”

Baptiste started the vigil with a few words before asking the crowd to raise their hands in the “Don’t Shoot” pose that has become symbolic of Mike Brown’s death. Right before the moment of silence and call for raised hands, I took a moment to close my eyes and re-center myself. I re-opened them when Baptiste started reading the names of other victims of police violence after the moment of silence passed and was caught off guard by the numerous white people holding up their hands in the ‘Don’t Shoot’ pose:

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Photo Source: Twitter #MikeBrownNOLA

After the reading of names, Baptiste and others announced follow up events to the vigil, then abruptly ended the gathering (it took no more 20 minutes from start to finish). When they stepped down from the steps they were speaking from, a collective, “Was that it?” feeling took over the park. I turned to a black woman activist friend of mine named Mshaiti A Uwenzo Siyanda and we quickly agreed that something about the brevity of the vigil did not feel right, did not feel like enough to encompass how we were feeling about the not-so-new phenomenon of disregard for black lives. Mshaiti and I took each other’s hands and made our way to the steps of the statue where I called out something along the lines of “EXCUSE ME! Is that all? I know too many busy people here who could be somewhere else but chose to be here. For Mike and others. There is too much collective energy here to waste. If we took to the streets, would you join us?”

Mshaiti and I stepped off the statue and into the street and led, what would be at its peak, a crowd of about 400 in a march for Mike Brown. We led them through downtown Canal St to Jackson Square and eventually ended the event with the occupation of a police station in the French Quarter where participants peacefully aired their grievances against police nationally & locally (including an August 11th incident where an NOPD officer shut off her body camera and shot a black man in the head. The NOPD failed to immediately release a public report about it).

Photo: Man holds up local Newspaper whose front page reads “NOPD Shoots man during traffic stop” in NOLA police station during occupation of police building,    

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Photo Source Twitter: @2ChainzLyrics 

Up front, my friends (4 black women and 1 black man) and I were leading the group in chanting “Justice for Mike Brown” & “What do we want? JUSTICE. When do we want it? NOW” while a black man whom I did not know (pictured above holding newspaper) joined us in front and led a chant of ‘Hands Up, Don’t Shoot’. Because the people leading the unregistered public event in honor of Mike Brown were black, we didn’t think twice about leading with that particular chant. At some point though, I stepped back and joined the body of the rally and it was at this point that I started getting upset.

As mentioned earlier, I had a brief instance during the moment of silence when I opened my eyes and saw a bunch of white folks with their hands raised in the same position that it’s believed Mike Brown adopted before he was shot. As I moved further back into the crowd of the march, I realized that everybody, including almost all the white people, had adopted the ‘Hands up’ pose. The initial rationalization I had done in the park when I first saw white folks in this pose disappeared as I watched white person after white person march past me with their hands up chanting ‘Hands Up, Don’t Shoot!’ as if they would be criminalized and targeted by police because of the color of their skin. As if their existence was an inherent threat despite being unarmed and in a pose of surrender. As if their interactions with law enforcement as white people don’t usually look like this. I remember feeling the exact same way after Trayvon Martin died and white people, in their misguided attempts at solidarity, posted photos like this one:

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Photo Source: Google Image search, White People I am Trayvon

Or when white people, after the criticism of the portrayal of Mike Brown (and other black victims of police violence) in the media posted photos like this one:

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Photo Source: Twitter @goawayjoyce

Look, I understand wanting to show up and support, but white people need to understand that this symbolic act of raising your hands in a position of surrender is meant to illustrate how black people are violently targeted by police because of their race. If you don’t experience that, you should not mimic the gesture in an attempt at “solidarity”. It is centering yourself in a narrative that you cannot tell because of the protection your white privilege gives you. It shows a lack of understanding about the nature of systemic state sanctioned violence against black bodies. In fact, the day after the rally I was talking to a white male neighbor who had attended the rally (and marched with his hands up chanting ‘Hands Up, Don’t Shoot’) who expressed that he thought the gesture was “too passive”. I had to literally break it down for him that the point of the gesture was so show that a non-aggressive surrender wasn’t enough to save Mike Brown because his blackness made him a threat, disposable, or both. In adopting this pose, Black people aren’t demonstrating passive surrender to oppression, they are communicating that they can make all attempts to appear non-threatening, but the historic and contemporary vilification of blackness in America has made the real danger the perception of their blackness as inherently threatening.

Another thing I noted as I went further back into the rally was the behavior of a number of white people in the crowd. These folks (all of whom that I saw were white with bandanas over their faces) were pushing over trash cans, taunting police officers in their cars as we passed them, spray painting public property and releasing colored gas canisters (as shown in this video of the march. A friend of mine told me after the march that he had seen one such white person throw themselves full force against a police car and there were outside reports that a window had been broken).

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Left Photo: Yellow gas canister goes off during march, Photo Source Twitter: @what__bruh

Right Photo: Graffiti found after march, Photo Source Twitter: @what__bruh

This is when I got mad. How dare these white folks come ‘take part’ in this march by bringing unnecessary violence into a demonstration about unnecessary violence? We were already taking a risk by leading an unregistered rally in order to make a statement on injustice, and now it was being co-opted by the group of people least likely to face any consequences. Had the police reacted to the rally or the violence of these provocateurs, they would have been more likely to arrest myself or other Black people peacefully leading the march, not the white people actually causing the trouble. Later, it was revealed that this group of white folks was part of a local (white) anarchist group that was essentially taking advantage of the energy and numbers of the march to bring about their own agenda, mirroring claims of the same escalation tactics used by outsiders in Ferguson.

All of this backstory finally leads us to the title of the piece, White People, Solidarity & Why I Didn’t March for Mike Brown

Recognizing that the spontaneous rally in the business & tourist sectors of New Orleans did not reach most of the city’s black population who are most likely to be impacted by police violence, there were plans to organize a follow up march that would be more intentional about including this population. A friend of mine attended the organizers meeting for this next event where attendees discussed the route that should be taken, what to do about provocateurs and where/when the event should take place (the meeting was described to me by a white attendee as having “a few poc with a definite majority of white anarchists who identified as occupiers [who] spent most of the time talking”). . At sometime during this meeting, it was revealed that one of the pseudo-national events that was originally announced at the vigil was already in the stages of being planned by a local (white) Anarchist group who would eventually make (and later delete) the Facebook page for the event. I showed up to the rally at Washington Square Park to support a black woman friend of mine who had posted that she was one of the organizers online, and this is what I saw:

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There were literally more bikes than black people. After finding my friend, she took one look at me and said, “So you probably won’t be marching today huh?” I told her I probably wouldn’t, but stuck around to see if there was going to be any dialogue about this particular gathering for Mike Brown. There wasn’t. After the organizers met and decided on an acceptable route given the make up of those in attendance, they led the 90-95% white crowd out of the park with their hands up chanting “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot”. I turned and walked in the opposite direction with the four other black women I came with and we sat on a playground expressing our frustration about the strange energy of this almost all white group going through the streets of this ‘chocolate city’ chanting ‘Hands Up, Don’t Shoot’.

I want to think that white people care about systemic racism. I want to think they are outraged by Mike Brown’s murder, that they are bursting with righteous anger and that they want to riot because the state of our country’s “criminal justice” system is unacceptable. I want to think that. But when I see white people smiling for pictures at protests, carrying the biggest sign that takes up the most space, bringing in unnecessary violence, and talking about how ‘we are all victims and all just need to get along’ during demonstrations about the targeting of black people…I can’t help but think that maybe they’re just here to make themselves feel better about their own prejudice and advance their own agendas because of how so many choose to participate. I’m not saying don’t support and/or participate , I’m saying make sure how you do so makes sense for you as a white person and doesn’t harm the cause you claim to support.

On Thursday I attended an event featuring Kalamu ya Salaam where a friend and myself expressed our frustration about the derailment of the first rally by white participants. A few elders in the audience reminded us that these tactics were not new, that they themselves had to deal with provocateurs and other tactics during the Civil Rights Movement. One in particular told us that when white people were using your issues to fight their own battles and doing so at your expense, then it was your responsibility to call them out before they do you more harm. So white people, this is me calling you out. Solidarity is not meant to be comfortable. It is not shining light on yourself as ally at the expense of the oppressed who are demanding their counternarratives be centralized. It is understanding that your whiteness protects you from certain things which in turn prohibits you from participation in others, because at the end of the day, when you get tired of marching and chanting, you can put your hands down and feel confident that the police won’t see you as a threat.

Some of us simply don’t have that luxury.

10

Block the Boat! Liberation from Oakland to Palestine! | AmericaWakieWakie 

August 16th, 2014

Today, in solidarity with Palestine, hundreds of Oakland, CA residents took to the streets in Block the Boat, a campaign for divestment from Israel’s apartheid government which focuses on impeding the unload of Israeli cargo ships along West Coast ports. 

In the past few weeks the Israeli onslaught of Gaza has steadily intensified, thus far claiming over 1,959 Palestinian lives — 80 percent have been civilians (including 470 children), few of which have been the alleged target Hamas — and injuring over 10,000 more. In addition, tens of thousands have been displaced but with effectively no where to go in the border-sealed stretch of land continually bombarded. 

Protesters chanted “When people are occupied, resistances is justified!,” as well as “Hands up, Don’t shoot,” in a show of support for the victims of police brutality in Ferguson, MO. 

(Photo Credit: AmericaWakieWakie)

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