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New York Stands with Rasmea Odeh: ‘Supporting Palestine is not a crime! Hands off Rasmea!’ Picket at the Department of Homeland Security, October 20, 2014.

Photos by redguard

On October 22, 2013, the Department of Homeland Security arrested Palestinian-American feminist, activist, educator and community leader, Rasmea Odeh in her home for alleged immigration fraud as part of an ongoing witch-hunt that targets Arabs and Muslims who criticize U.S. and Israeli policy and labels them “terrorists.” Rasmea is facing trial on November 4, 2014 

On October 21, 2014 the Federal Court in Detroit will determine the admissibility of “Israeli evidence” — evidence obtained under torture decades ago inside the prisons of the illegal, colonial, occupying Zionist power.This is not the first time that U.S. Federal prosecutors have used such evidence against Palestinian Americans. 

National call-in Oct. 21: Drop the charges against Rasmea!

Tuesday, Oct. 21 from 9am-5pm Eastern Time: 
Call the prosecutors and tell them, ‘Drop the charges now!’

(1) Call Jonathan Tukel in Detroit at 313-226-9100
Chief of National Security Unit, U.S. Attorney’s office, Eastern District of Michigan

(2) Call Barbara McQuade at 313-226-9501
U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan

When you call say, “Hello, my name is ________, and I am calling from _________ to demand that U.S. Attorney McQuade drop the charges against Rasmea Odeh.” (First name pronounced Russ-MEE-yuh)

Make the calls!
——————————————-

If you can be in Detroit on Oct. 21, join us at the Court Hearing for Rasmea Odeh
Oct. 21 - 10am - Picket line outside the court building
231 W Lafayette Boulevard, in Detroit
(Google map: http://goo.gl/IUwYdq)

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In Rome, marking the week of action called for by the Campaign to FREE Ahmad Sa’adat, the Martyr Ghassan Kanafani Committee in Italy organized postering throughout the city demanding freedom for Ahmad Sa’adat and all Palestinian prisoners. The Martyr Ghassan Kanafani Committee also TRANSLATED the call for action into Italian and distributed it widely, as well as its own call for action.

Get Over It, pt. 2 - It Was a Long Time Ago

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Welcome to the second installment of Get Over It,wherein your boy confronts the common arguments people make when they tell Black people to “get over” slavery in the United States. Installment 1 is here. I’m trying to do some educating here, so please reblog and share with your friends. Sorry for the long wait between pt.1 and pt. 2, I just wanted to make sure I had all the right sources.


Before I move on to my second section, let me just say one thing and ask one question:

1. People often compare the slavery internal to Africa to the transatlantic slave trade. I addressed that a little bit last time, but we should also note that in Africa, most slavery was not heritable. That is to say that the children of slaves were born free.

2. What is the intention of persons who tell Blacks to “get over” the grand injustice of slavery? 

What do you think? I have a number of ideas, but I just want it out there as thought experiment.

Okay.  Onto the second common argument that Black people should just “get over it” - It Was a Long Time Ago

This is pretty straight forward. Slavery in the United States formally ended in 1865. Soon, it will be 2015. Which means that slavery ended 150 years ago. Surely, that’s enough time for old wounds to heal, right?

Not so fast. Slavery, as I addressed in my previous post, was made possible by a systematic condition of people to servitude. They were prevented from being educated, from accumulating property or wealth, from accessing anything that we would now call “les droits des hommes” because they did not have rights-in-person over themselves.

They did not even have a history after slavery. They did not have a place they could call home. Where as other Americans could say that they were Irish American, or Polish American, or German American. All that Blacks knew was that at some point, their ancestors had been taken from Africa.

They were released from one brutal system into a slightly less brutal system. There were Jim Crow laws (examples here) that were designed to prevent Negroes from:

- receiving adequate medical care

-fully accessing the human right of mobility

-voting

-mixing with white society

-owning land

starting businesses

Now, often Blacks would do these things in spite of societal forces, but often at the risk of their personal safety and indeed, their lives. Statistic from the lynchings we know about tell us that Blacks were lynched at a rate of 92/year for the years between 1882 and 1900 (inclusive). Many, because they could not access wealth/capital, or were barred from many professions, were forced into sharecropping. This often entailed making just enough money to live while turning most of the fruits of ones labor over to a white property owner, with strict penalties for deviations from the contract. This functioned as a system of economic enslavement

These new arrangements did not function fairly or harmoniously. Black sharecroppers suffered a devastating one-two punch in the 1870s, as cotton prices skidded and Redeemer governments dismantled legal protections that blacks had gained from the Reconstruction regimes. The only collateral that a poor cropper could use to obtain credit was the crop that he intended to plant. He thereby obliged himself to plant whatever his creditor wanted him to plant, and the one crop in the cotton South that could most readily be converted into cash was cotton. Crossroads stores emerged across the rural South to provide croppers with food, clothing, and other merchandise. In exchange, merchants and landlords (who were often the same person) received first legal claim to the growing cotton crop. A vicious cycle resulted. Thanks to the crop-lien system, the South increasingly produced too little food and too much cotton. Falling cotton prices and long-term labor indebtedness resulted. As Eric Foner has noted, “the credit system that grew up alongside sharecropping quickly undermined its promise of autonomy.” 

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My point is, even if Blacks had been freed with access to the full opportunities provided by the US Constitution, they would still have been disadvantaged by the lack of any wealth, an economic base, educations, and opportunities. But that wasn’t the case - Blacks were subjected to decades of cruel and isolated treatment that was enshrined by law. I cannot begin to here address the anthropological and sociological ramifications of racist beliefs and feelings held by the whole country.

Allow me to restate my point: all other intervening history aside, the African American community is still recovering from slavery.

To forget slavery would be to forget a part of our history, a history that made the group of people that we now call African Americans. Let me put that another way: 

 - without the trans-Atlantic slave trade, Black people as you and I understand them do not exist. The group, the category would never have been created. Slavery, and the legal and cultural systems that supported it made possible the current status of race relations in the United States. - 

Slavery is the root of the problem here, and I’d contend that people who want to erase it from history want to be able to explain it in a way that does not put any responsibility on them or their predecessors. This is the same kind of thinking that allows Whites to say “well, I didn’t personally own any slaves, I’m not a racist, so don’t blame me for them” while turning around and saying “well, I’m not racist, but statistically, Blacks commit more crimes, so I’m right to suspect them.” Guilt by association applies to others, not to protestant-ethic-having, rugged-individualism-believing, sovereign-individual-whites.

My claim is this: remembering slavery isn’t about holding on to old grudges. It’s about contextualizing our experience and history in this country. It’s about a reasonable suspicion of a system that has systematically oppressed a people that it created for over four centuries.

It’s not about the length of time, it’s about context. It’s about history, and it’s about reality. We remember the Revolutionary War, but not that it was a contradiction-in-terms. We remember the Civil War, but not the evil that made it necessary or relevant. To be frank, recalling the glory of war without its meaning, context, or end is to reduce it to bloodsport. To recall the war without recalling promises abandoned, the blood spilled, or the people forgotten, is to pull the war from history.

It is a vision of these wars in which Black people are irrelevant. To deny discussion of slavery is to deny the history and validity of Black people. It is the willful sale of Black lives for comfort’s sake. I’m not being melodramatic. African American soldiers have fought in every war the United States has been party to. There is no way to talk about the truth of those Black soldiers without talking about slavery. You’d have to somehow ignore the many African Americans who fought on both sides of the Revolutionary War because they were promised freedom upon victory.

You’d have to forget the noble United States Colored Troops who fought in the Civil War. Who fought in critical battles of the latter half of the Civil War. This brings me to another common myth: Black people should be grateful because it was White people from the North who fought and died to free them. 

Yes, white soldiers fought in the Civil War. A couple things about that:

  1. You don’t get to perform a mind-boggling injustice for centuries, then stop, and have Black people throw parties in your honor. Sorry.
  2.  As I said, Black soldiers from the US Bureau of Colored Troops fought in critical battles in all theatres of the War. Ulysses S. Grant said: "By arming the negro we have added a powerful ally."
  3. Black Troops were among the first into Richmond when the Confederate capital fell. 
  4. Multiple contemporary sources describe the Union victory with phrases like “Extra Glorious! Fall of Richmond! Captured by the Black Troops!” That’s from the Washington National Republican, April 3, 1865, and you can read it for yourself here

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"We, the colored soldiers, have fairly won our rights by loyalty and bravery — shall we obtain them? If we are refused now, we shall demand them." |Sgt. Maj. William McCeslin; 29th U.S.C.T.

We fought for our own freedoms, securing victory and reuniting the country in the process. Black people need be grateful to no one but their own Black ancestors for their current freedom, something which the United States has tried to take from them countless times over in the years since.

A key method of taking our freedom is taking the memory of our valorous deeds in winning the Civil War. Anyone who attempts to tell you otherwise about our history, or tells you that the crime of slavery was undone by the white blood spilled in the Civil is committing the deadly crime of forgetting. They are as damaging to us and reifying to white supremacy as any other entity involved.

Why?

Because the forgetting is intentional. It’s something our culture is actively pursuing. It’s called “surrogation.” It is a cultural process designed to preserve the American self-image. A dedication to freedom, to the American Dream, to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness in a world where we have finally decided that Blacks are people is contradicted by the history of slavery and racism. So, for the American Myth to stand, we must forget the reality of slavery. For a more detailed explanation of this process, by which cultural memory is forgotten, reinvented, and restored (particularly through performance) try reading Cities of the Dead by Joseph Roach.

Slavery is one of the founding sins of this nation. It made this nation possible. From Ta-Nehisi Coates’ The Case for Reparations:

America begins in black plunder and white democracy, two features that are not contradictory but complementary. “The men who came together to found the independent United States, dedicated to freedom and equality, either held slaves or were willing to join hands with those who did,” the historian Edmund S. Morgan wrote. “None of them felt entirely comfortable about the fact, but neither did they feel responsible for it. Most of them had inherited both their slaves and their attachment to freedom from an earlier generation, and they knew the two were not unconnected.”

Asking those people whose lives have been determined and defined in large part by the history of slavery in this country to forget this is unfair and irresponsible. But the thing is, that includes everyone in this country. If the suffering of Americans is to be remembered, it is to be remembered. That includes the colonists who suffered under British Imperialism and the Blacks that suffered under slavery. It includes the suffering of the Chinese and the Irish and everyone.

Racism isn’t over in America. Slavery era mentalities aren’t gone. And each and every one of us owes it to ourselves to remember all of our history, even the ugly parts. Especially the ugly parts. How else are we to learn?


Let me end as I began, by asking a question and making a statement.

1. What is the statute of limitations for aggravated assault? How about theft? What about rape? Human trafficking? Murder? How long should a nation be accountable for each of those crimes committed millions of times over? 

2. Black people do not want to live in the past, but we do not want to forget our past either. Perhaps what we do want is that now and in the future that we should be treated as full citizens in the country our ancestors built. That is a right we have been denied since slavery.

This post ended up much longer than I anticipated. I’ll address no living slavein pt. 3

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rushing to put these up. people are really digging these. If you want to put these up yourself. right click save picture an print…somebody asked me if i  was going to their state an put these up. no. If you like them print them  and post them yourself…

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Today in Solidarity (10.13.14): From Ferguson to Palestine, the revolution has arrived. In the early days of the protests in Ferguson, it was Palestinians who first reached out to offer guidance and wisdom in how to combat police brutality. What has flourished in the time since is one of the truest manifestations of global solidarity I’ve ever witnessed. This is how a moment becomes a movement. #staywoke #fergusonoctober #revolution.

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

Men —I would like to take this opportunity to extend your formal invitation. Gender equality is your issue too.
"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.

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