This project ‘Can I Just Be?’ is a project I’ve been working hard on for the past few weeks. It’s 2015 and African-American youth are still being stereotyped and grouped together. So I went out, got out different reflections of African-American youth and asked them to describe their experience as a young African-American in an “I am” and “I am not” statement.

Thank You To Everyone Who Participated. 

Photography Done By: youdontnomii

This photo set is also accompanied by a video starring myself and directed by delafro check it out:

HeRe’S WhY tHe BeT aWaRdS iS tRaSh!

         I’ve been watching the “prestigious” award event for several years now. Why? Idk. I just don’t have anything better to do, I guess. But I already know what to expect. The groan-worthy “chocolate” or “fine light skin” jokes. Black elite people in gowns trying hard to imitate the style of a white awards show. And I’m not talking about simply how they dress or talk. I am talking about the jokes, exploitation of African-American youth culture, and using black women only when they need views. They’ve done that consistently with Beyonce G. Knowles-Carter for years. They have also done that with Nicki. They’ve kissed the ass of Nicki’s fat ass for seven years, and now when they get tired of her, they toss her aside foe a less talented woman who had to slander another woman for the entirety of 7 minutes just to get the recognition she been waiting for since I was a fifth grader on my elementary school’s step team. I say step-team because we most certainly did get down to “Lean Back,” but the childhood memories reside with Fat Joe, not Remy Ma.

               So why do I think the EB—I mean, BET Awards is trash? Simple. Because it’s a show that consists of misogynoir, colorism, and lame references as their comedy style! I am so sick and tired of someone forcibly saying, “I need me a brotha” or “Ooh, he got pretty eyes!” That shit’s tired, and they need to hang up the 2005 jokes! No shade to Leslie Jones, but she could have kept it at less being more. Even when people were performing, Leslie was still trying to interrupt and talk! And her monologue took too damn long for me to care. As well as that, I had to sit through a whole 5 minutes of woman-beating, Chris Brown dancing his way back to the hearts of naïve black people again! How you gonna have Karreuche up there to promote her show, Claws, only to shout out her abuser like we’re supposed to like him? Tyrese was also there, and you can enjoy the babymaking songs from the late 90’s to early ‘00’s all you want, but that man is a jerk! But if I had to choose between R. Kelly, Chris Brown, or Tyrese, I’d choose Tyrese because at least he’s not an abominable piece of shit like the other two.

               Now let’s get to the “Black Girl Magic” and “Black Is Beautiful” promotion I kept seeing all throughout the event. We get it. You think black women are beautiful! That does not mean you have to shout us out for a nod just to leave us out of dialogues of police brutality once again! You say “Black Girl Magic” just to once again pretend we’re not being killed at alarming rates just as much, if not more, as black men. Sandra Bland was mentioned. Whatever. A black mother was killed last week, but I guess she’s not a father, so you didn’t mention her. That’s why I will say this: I don’t care how beautiful or “magic” you think I or another black woman is! If you are not speaking to and about us with nuances and understanding we ARE mortal and are the MOST targeted in the U.S. (and world), you can shut the fuck up with your “Black Girl Magic” shoutouts. Black Girl Magic has become a brand and something I don’t fit into because I’m not “pandering” to black men enough, so I stepped away from that label. It’s trash now. We all saw it last night, and I am only confirming what I’ve already been known.

               Lastly: Remy Ma. Cardi B. Bullshit. I have talked a lot of shit about Cardi B. because of her colorism towards random girls’ online and a classmate on Love & Hip-Hop, who she did apologize to. I said I don’t think she deserved to get this much hype over a rap career I find lukewarm at this point in time. I have never been a Cardi B. “hater.” I was one of the first people to promote her music and created her page on I wrote the biography and everything. I didn’t think she was that great of a rapper at the time, but I was a fan of Stripper Hoe and Gangsta Bitch Vol. 1. I liked it for what it was. Good, turn up music. However, once I saw how Cardi treated female fans in particular, I was turned off from her the same way I was turned off from Tyrese’s misogynoir. I can’t support someone who doesn’t seem to know when to shut up and just think before they speak. The things they’ve said about black women were hurtful, and I couldn’t bring myself to support them while calling myself a “womanist” who cares for black women. The least you can do is acknowledge these people have been trash instead of brushing over it because you don’t want to admit you too will associate with trash if they’re entertaining enough. Only a few “woke” people aren’t as authentic and “politically aware” as they claim to be in their threads. But hey, aside from my qualms with Cardi B., I didn’t hate Nicki enough to not think Cardi wouldn’t have been a better upset than Remy “The Fraudulent” Ma. I was petty when I said I would rather BET be petty and have Remy win than a colorist, but I also did not think they’d be that stupid enough to think Remy was talented and impactful enough to win either. Cardi had impact. Young M.A. had impact. Not Remy Ma who’s only hit and “good” song is a 7 minute diss trash to the current Queen of Rap. But Remy got her award unfair and square, so her and the stans are happy.

               All in all, BET is trash because they can never get shit right. They never give black women and the artists justice. They snubbed Tinashe two years ago for a white man, so maybe that’s what Tinashe was talking about when she said she felt she was not accepted by black people. I see how y’all would champion non-black Bruno Mars over actual black Latino Miguel. Y’all go hard for white and non-black artists with some “soul” to their voice than actual biracial people. So why should I take a space that claims to be for black people “seriously” if they can’t even respect black excellence? They treat us like we’re circus entertainment. As if we’re expected to be good, and our talent only gets the dues when it’s in a white or brown voice. The BET Awards is anti-black, problematic, and I would not be surprised if Nicky Minaj never shows up to that messy place again!

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Don’t Shoot Me’:part 2 Video Shows #Cops Hold #5 #Innocent Children at Gunpoint for Playing #Basketball
Grand Rapids, MI — Outraged community leaders in Grand Rapids are demanding reform after five African American youths aged between 12 and 14 years were held at gunpoint — for no justifiable reason — as they walked home from playing basketball. Pressure on the department by The Grand Rapids Press through a Freedom of Information Act request finally forced them to release the body camera footage which is nothing short of horrifying.
As the Free Thought Project reported last week, original v ideo of the incident, taken from far away, shows a number of #GrandRapids Police Department patrol cars descended on the scene, as #officers point loaded weapons at the youths, order them to the ground, and eventually place them each in handcuffs — after a vague call to dispatch suggested a large fight in the area, and the possibility a teen was in #possession of a #gun.
None of the young teens in question were armed. “Now they’re saying they don’t like the police,” Ikeshia Quinn, mother of two of the teens, told WOOD-TV — intimating the boys did not feel ambivalent toward #law #enforcement until this traumatic incident. “They don’t want to be involved with the police. They should’ve been approached differently because they are young boys. They had basketballs in their hands.” As the #bodycamera #footage begins, Officer Caleb Johnson pulls up to the boys and immediately points his weapon at them and demands they get on the ground. “Get on the #ground!” #Johnson tells the boys.

Three of the #children were so confused that they did not immediately comply. Luckily they weren’t shot. (Via @allnewshit ) #SosoBlú

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During the height of the Black Power movement of the late 1960s and 1970s, dozens of Pan African nationalist private schools, from preschools to post-secondary ventures, appeared in urban settings across the United States. The small, independent enterprises were often accused of teaching hate and were routinely harassed by authorities. Yet these institutions served as critical mechanisms for transmitting black consciousness. Founded by activist-intellectuals and other radicalized veterans of the civil rights movement, the schools strove not simply to bolster the academic skills and self-esteem of inner-city African-American youth but also to decolonize minds and foster a vigorous and regenerative sense of African identity.

In We Are An African People, historian Russell Rickford traces the intellectual lives of these autonomous black institutions, established dedicated to pursuing the self-determination that the integrationist civil rights movement had failed to provide. Influenced by Third World theorists and anticolonial campaigns, organizers of the schools saw formal education as a means of creating a vanguard of young activists devoted to the struggle for black political sovereignty throughout the world. Most of the institutions were short-lived, and they offered only modest numbers of children a genuine alternative to substandard, inner-city public schools. Yet their stories reveal much about Pan Africanism as a social and intellectual movement and as a key part of an indigenous black nationalism.

Rickford uses this largely forgotten movement to explore a particularly fertile period of political, cultural, and social revitalization that strove to revolutionize African American life and envision an alternate society. Reframing the post-civil rights era as a period of innovative organizing, he depicts the prelude to the modern Afrocentric movement and contributes to the ongoing conversation about urban educational reform, race, and identity.


Many African American youth feel that they have to wait until they’re around 50-years old to be an influential leader of their people. When you look at these black leaders who many expected to be in their 30s or 40s, you’d think otherwise. These men became leaders in their 20s. This shows age doesn’t matter. All it took for them to be a leader was ambition, courage, education, and listening to the advice of experienced leaders. These are the things that can turn today’s black youth into leaders when they reach their young adult years.

According to Huey Newton, African American young adults have played a major role when it came to fighting for justice and equality. By looking at the age of these leaders, you can also see why racists in the police and prison system mostly aim for young black men. The young adults are the ones most likely to bring about change. This is what the black youth need to be aware of. Once they are, they’ll have the courage and confidence to become successful leaders of their people.

Donald Trump: “You cannot run for president if you have such contempt in your heart for the American voter. You can’t lead this nation if you have such a low opinion for it’s citizens.”

Also Donald Trump: 

  • Hires white nationalist as his campaign chief.
  • Tells Black voters that they’re all living in poverty with no jobs.
  • Says he would force the U.S. military to commit war crimes if necessary.
  • “You have to treat them [women] like shit.”
  • Proposed a database to track Muslims who live in the United States.
  • Thinks U.S. born judge is unfit for his job because he has “Mexican heritage.”
  • Thinks women in the U.S. should be punished for having abortions.
  • Told his supporters to beat up protesters at his rallies, who are practicing their first amendment rights.
  • Made fun of a reporter’s disability.
  • Promises to deport children who were born in the United States if their parents weren’t citizens.
  • Plans to shut down mosques.
  • Uses images and falsified facts from white supremacists on Twitter.
  • Doesn’t like veterans who were captured.
  • Defended Japanese internment camps.
  • Wildly inflates the numbers of Black on Black crime/Black on white crime while also wildly deflating the numbers of white on white crime/white on Black crime.
  • Said that his supporters who violently attacked a homeless latino man were just “very passionate,” people who “love their country.”
  • Brought the “birther,” questions into the mainstream.
  • Says he could murder someone in the middle of Fifth Avenue and fail to lose votes.
  • Refused to disavow an endorsement from KKK leader David Duke until pressured.
  • Claimed he donated a million dollars to veteran groups who didn’t see any of the money until he was investigated for lying.
  • Took advantage of those who enrolled at Trump University.
  • Thinks that husbands who change their children’s diapers are “acting like the wife.”
  • Mocked Carly Fiorina for her looks and claimed she couldn’t be president because of that.
  • Claimed that American Muslims are responsible  for failing to stop the Orlando Pulse shooter and the San Bernardino shooters.
  • Thinks that pregnant women are bad for business and feels that they should return quickly from maternity leave or risk being replaced.
  • Tweeted anti-semitic imagery of the Star of David over a bed of money, replaced it, then claimed there was nothing wrong with the original image despite it coming from a neo-Nazi forum.
  • “Laziness is a trait in the Blacks.”
  • Kicked out protesters at a rally and told security to take their coats and send them outside into the 10 degrees below zero weather.
  • Publicly shamed Miss Universe winner for gaining weight.
  • Says that second and third generation families cannot be properly assimilated if they are from the Middle East.
  • Mocked the family of deceased U.S. solider, Humayun Khan, because they are Muslim and claims they don’t like Trump because he’s tough on terrorism.
  • Has insulted 239 candidate, journalists, politicians and celebrities on his Twitter and the number rises everyday.
  • Attempted to woo Jewish voters with anti-Semitic stereotypes about money and dealmaking.
  • Praised Turkish President Erdogan for his violent response to an attempted coup.
  • Thinks women who are sexually harassed at work should find another job.
  • Proposes to (illegally) try U.S. citizens in Guantanamo Bay military tribunals.
  • Called Mexican immigrants rapists who bring crime and drugs into the U.S.
  • Refers to Elizabeth Warren as Pocahontas because she said she has ancestors who are Cherokee.
  • Has been sued twice by the Justice Department for refusing to rent to Black people.
  • Black employees at Trump casinos said that they would be removed from the casino floor when Trump and his wife came to visit.
  • “Black guys counting my money! I hate it. The only kind of people I want counting my money are short guys that wear yarmulkes every day.”
  • “The reason a lot of Klan members like Donald Trump is because a lot of what he believes in, we believe in.” - Leader of Virginia KKK group
  • Told the House subcommittee on Native American Affairs that the Mashantucket Pequot Nation tribe didn’t “look like Indians to me… they don’t like like Indians to Indians.”
  • Took out full page ads in several New York newspapers calling for the return of the death penalty for the Central Park Five. He encouraged mob justice even though these five teenagers were found innocent thanks to DNA evidence. Trump still thinks they are guilty.
  • Says that a Black Lives Matter protester who was attacked was justified and that they “should have been roughed up.”
  • After the 9/11attacks, Trump called into a news station to brag about now having the tallest building in Downtown Manhattan.
  • Hired a campaign manager who didn’t want his children “to go to school with Jews.”
  • Says that people like Colin Kaepernick should leave America if they aren’t going to stand for the national anthem - ignoring that it’s his right to do so and millions of people don’t stand or put their hand on their heart for it for religious/personal reasons.
  • Is going to look into removing Muslims from working at the TSA.
  • Hired an advisor who is a Holocaust denier.
  • Praised the Mexican Repatriation program that forced Mexicans to return to their home country - 60% were U.S. citizens.
  • “We have a wonderful OPPORTUNITY here folks, that may never come again, at the RIGHT time . Donald Trump’s campaign statements, if nothing else, have SHOWN that ‘our views’ are NOT so ‘unpopular’ as the Political Correctness crowd have told everyone they are!” - Chairman of the American Nazi Party
  • “Who cares that he [Jeb Bush] speaks Mexican, this is America. English!”
  • Trump campaign worker and lawyer told Trump to focus on Black voters because he needs the minority vote and that the “Hispanics,” that don’t support him aren’t here legally so their vote doesn’t matter anyways.
  • Claims that no Black person can become president again because Obama has done such a poor job and ruined it for them.
  • “And if you look at Black and African-American youth, to a point where they’ve never done more poorly. There’s no spirit.”
  • Uses the slur “J*ps,” to refer to Japanese people.
  • While talking about Chinese and Japanese deals Trump used broken English and a mock “Asian accent.”
  • Claims that Native Americans are not offended by the term “r*dskins,” and knows many “Indians there are extremely proud of that name, they think it’s a positive.”
  • Took out ads against the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe who were trying to build a casino by claiming they are criminals. He used hypodermic needles and drug paraphernalia and asked the question: Are these the neighbors we want?
  • While claiming to be the biggest champion for LGBTQ+ rights he also says he’s “against gay marriage,” and “I have so many fabulous friends who happen to be gay but I’m a traditionalist.”
  • Mocked reporter, Serge Kovaleski, and his disability, which Trump denies he did. However, he’s also mocked a conservative critic, Charles Krauthammer for criticizing Trump. He said he could not believe he was being called names by someone who couldn’t even “buy a pair of pants.” Krauthammer is paralyzed from the waist down.
  • “You wouldn’t have your job if you weren’t beautiful.” - Trump to woman reporter.
  • Constantly reduces women down to their looks, if they want to sleep with him, and mocks those who are single/divorced. He’s also made jokes about Hillary not being able to “satisfy the country” because she couldn’t satisfy her husband and he cheated on her.
  • He will not make measures to stop climate change because he believes it’s a hoax and anyone who believes in it is falling for a hoax despite the fact that he takes measure to protect his property in Ireland. This protection is from the rising sea levels which is explicitly cited as a consequences of global warming.
  • Wants to close off parts of the internet and those who cry that it’s against freedom of speech are “foolish people.”

Today ten health organizations and community groups filed a legal amicus brief in support of NYC’s proposed sugary drink portion cap rule. The rule, proposed by the New York City Board of Health, limits the size of sugary drinks sold to 16 ounces or less.

The brief recognizes the importance of taking action to stem obesity and chronic diseases, particularly for underserved racial and ethnic communities. It is directed at overconsumption of sugary drinks, a key driver of the obesity and type 2 diabetes epidemics.

The Institute of Medicine has identified sugary drinks as “the single largest contributor of calories and added sugars to the American diet.”  The rate of sugary drinks consumption is significantly higher among Hispanics and African-Americans. In New York City neighborhoods with the highest levels of obesity, residents are four times as likely to drink four or more sugary drinks a day as residents of neighborhoods with the lowest obesity rates. As a result, African Americans and Hispanics suffer from higher rates of chronic disease and obesity.

The consumption of sugary drinks by African-American and Hispanic youth, in particular, has been fostered by racially and ethnically targeted marketing by beverage companies. Ads for sugary drinks are more frequently present in magazines and television shows that target African Americans and Hispanics. Lower-income black and Latino neighborhoods also contain more outdoor ads for sugary drinks than do white and higher-income neighborhoods.

The brief points out that larger default portion size has led to increased consumption. By reducing standard sugary drink portion size to less than 16 ounces, NYC can move towards stopping the twin epidemic of obesity and type 2 diabetes.

Read the full brief here to learn more about the effects of sugary drinks on American, and read NYC Health Commissioner Mary T Bassett’s statement in support of the brief here.

Thank you to the following organization for supporting this important policy by joining to file the brief: National Alliance for Hispanic Health, Association of Black Cardiologists, Harlem health Promotion Center, New York State American Academy of Pediatricians, United Puerto Rican Organization of Sunset Park, Harlem Children’s Zone, The Children’s Aid Society, National Congress of Black Women, Montefiore Medical Center, and Mount Sinai Health System.

My heart goes out to every married gay couple around the country fearing that their marriage will be nullified by this republican congress. Also to all of the sick individuals fighting for their health that rely on the coverage that they’ve received under the Affordable Care Act which is most certainly going to be revoked. To all of the families huddled together in fear tonight wondering how long it’ll be until violence ensues against them during immigrant witch hunts and the inevitable round ups. To every African American youth sitting at home afraid to go out now that a party has just taken power that firmly and passionately believes that their lives don’t matter. They do. And finally to every struggling working class family whose lives are going to get tougher and tougher as republicans make extreme cuts to their friends and benefactors at the top and compensate by abusing the middle class. My heart goes out to all of you.

I have no idea how we got here but I’m extremely saddened by the thought that a majority of the people voting in this country could support a man like that. It’s such a cliche to say that because of these results I want to move elsewhere but it’s so true. A majority of voting Americans just voted for a country filled with divisiveness and hate. That is not a country I feel safe living in. That is not a country that speaks for or represents me. Unfortunately, there is no way I could leave. I have to stay and work to help stall or fight the horrors that await. These hate-filled Americans may have won the battle by electing this horrid man as their leader but they will most certainly lose the war for the future of this country. We will rally and we will win again. #iamaprouddemocrat

“Devonte Hart’s photo with Police Sergeant Brett Barnum at a November 25th demonstration in Portland has gone viral on social media, and stories about the hug have appeared on major news networks such as CNN, FOX, and ABC news.

Amid all the frustration and pain that has erupted since the announcement of the grand jury not to seek charges against Darren Wilson in the shooting of Michael Brown, the image of an African American youth, with tears in his eyes, giving a full body hug to a police officer is, to many, a sign of hope. It seems to say to us that what matters, and what can ultimately overcome all our social ills, is a genuine connection between people, recognizing one other’s basic humanity and emotional vulnerability, and letting one other know that we can be there in the moment for the other.

It is a touching moment, and Hart’s family seems to feel that it was a special moment for the young man. But all that is really besides the point of the Ferguson protests. The reactions around this photo threaten to derail the discussion about what our social ills really are. The issue is not that there are just a few racist police officers across the country; it is not that we need a reminder that there are, indeed, many good people who serve in law enforcement—it is not really about individuals at all. It is about institutional power, stereotypes, and social roles.

There is an epidemic of police violence against people of color in the United States, with Native American and Black men being the primary victims. It is a problem fueled by a confluence of factors, including the militarization of law enforcement, an economy that has produced large numbers of restless young people without great hope in social mobility, and, most importantly, racist stereotypes of people of color as perpetrators of violent crime. These are not problems that can be fixed with a hug between good people, or any one moment of pleasant interaction between people and state officials.

The work of Phillip Zimbardo’s Stanford Prison Experiment should teach us that these are not problems that can be fixed by making sure that the “good people” are socially recognized. In this infamous experiment, Zimbardo demonstrated that even good individuals can inflict significant pain and suffering on people when they are put in institutional roles that emphasize dominance and subordination as the primary modes of interaction. Ordinary college students quickly became brutal to other students when they were told they could exercise power over them, along with the suggestion that they had institutional support to keep things quiet and orderly in their experimental jailhouse. Zimbardo later extended his analysis to explain why US soldiers were willing to engage in the torture and humiliation of prisoners at Abu Ghraib in Iraq.

What we need—more than a few feel good moments—is a serious discussion about ongoing white supremacy, the devaluation of non-white lives, especially those of young Black men, the increasing accumulation of firepower of the state for use against its own citizens, and a political sphere increasingly dominated by discussions about how to divest itself from programs of social opportunity.

The photo of Devonte is beautiful not only because it is testimony to his bravery and spirit, but because it records something rare and exceptional. It is a sad reminder that many Black and Brown young people will not be able to flourish tomorrow because the institutions we have around us were not built with their well-being in mind.”

—Prof. Joseph Orosco, Oregon State University - Director of the Peace Studies Program

From Ferguson to Gaza, We Charge Genocide A Message of Solidarity

From Ferguson to Gaza, We Charge Genocide
A Message of Solidarity
Those standing up against police brutality and state repression in Ferguson, Missouri are leading one of the most important human right struggles of our time.

In the context of the history of Sundown Towns in that region, which legislated that people of color had to leave white towns by sundown, the imposition of a curfew and deployment of the National Guard by the governor represents a racist suppression of the right to self-defense and a gross violation of the freedom of assembly. Its message is clear: the people most likely to rebel against injustice have to be controlled, their right to protest quashed, and the absolute power of the police state restored.

The militarized repression on display in Ferguson is a reflection of a world in crisis. Although separated by thousands of miles, the plight of the people of Ferguson and the Gaza Strip share too much in common for people of conscience to ignore. Michael Brown, an African American youth, could just have easily been a Palestinian youth mercilessly shot by an Israeli soldier.

We understand that in both cases a long history of colonialism and racism justified land dispossession in Palestine and slavery in the US. That history is alive today with the continued gross economic deprivation of these communities and their isolation through universally enforced discrimination in housing. This pattern of ghettoization has been inflicted on both of these communities since the founding of the US and Israel. The systematic exploitation, repression and targeting of these populations by the state has led and continues to lead to genocide. According to a 2012 study, a black person is killed every 28 hours by the police, other security agency, or individuals acting as the police. In Gaza, as of today, there have been more than 2,000 civilians killed from recent Israeli bombing attacks. If we take Gaza’s small population into account this killing isproportional to double the entire population of Providence, Rhode Island.

The same U.S. government policies that arm the State of Israel have also turned police departments across the nation into localized military garrisons armed with sophisticated weapons aimed at citizens. As one Palestinian youth tweeted recently, “Made in USA teargas canister was shot at us a few days ago in #Palestine by Israel, now they are used in ‪#Ferguson‬.”

This police onslaught in Ferguson is reminiscent of the assault that occurred in Philadelphia in 1985, when the police dropped a military grade, fire-bomb from a helicopter on the MOVE house. That police attack of black people killed 11 MOVE members, including 5 children and burned down 61 homes, destroying an entire African American neighborhood.

Political Prisoner and black journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal is imprisoned today because during his youth, he exposed this kind of systematic police terror against the black community. He stands in solidarity with Ferguson and Palestine, and we call for his immediate release.

At a moment’s notice, any of us could face the terror experienced in Ferguson or Palestine. A people subjugated by racist oppression have a moral right to resist.

In solidarity with the people of Ferguson, We Call For:

1. The Immediate Arrest of Officer Darren Wilson and an Investigation for Justice
with Full Community Oversight
2. Just Reparation for the Brown Family
3. The Withdrawal of the National Guard, the Removal of the Curfew and No Fly
Zones and Full Media Access to the Area
4. The Disbanding of Ferguson’s Racist Police Department and the Re-
Appropriation of Police Funds for a Massive Jobs, Housing, & Schools Program
for the Residents of Ferguson

In Solidarity with the people of Palestine, We Call For:

1. The Right of Return, the Right to Self Determination, and the Right to Self-Defense
2. A Free and Independent Palestine
3. A Re-Appropriation of US Supplied Israeli Military Funds for an Economic
Reparations Program for Palestine