A letter to Palestine from Indigenous Black America
I stand in solidarity with you. My heart longs for you. I know what it is to be oppressed. I know what genocide is; I have felt the generational consequences of its violent manifestation. I have had to lick my own wounds, because the world was not yet wise enough to know my plight and act righteously. I know what it is to be forcibly displaced, to be silenced and censored, to be hungry and thirsty and sick and denied food and water and help. I know what it means to have my acts of self-defense spun in a narrative to justify an oppressor’s violence. I know what it means for the world to ignore what I declare with truth because it is too busy thinking about what those with power and resources have said. I know fear politics and I know the challenge of combating its attractive call in a world proselytizing fear and lies.
I know, because despite our different countries, contexts, and conditions, you and I are bound together, and thus our liberation is tied to that of each other. I cannot think of my own displacement and not think of you. I cannot think of my own genocide and not feel my own and yours together. The world’s neglect of you is a sign that they never really learned from me. They would much rather see apartheid and colonialism persist in the world without critique, untouched.
I know that you are burying your dead if you are able to do so, healing your wounded, feeding your hungry, healing your sick, clothing your naked, and defending your humanity and your right to exist on the land you and your ancestors lived, loved, and thrived on — a land now occupied by the Israeli government, which is funded by the United States. Even in writing about you, I find myself mulling over the words of Toni Morrison: “Language can never pin down slavery, genocide, war, nor should it yearn for the arrogance to be able to do so. Its force, its felicity is in its reach toward the ineffable. Be it grand or slender, burrowing, blasting, or refusing to sanctify, whether it laughs out loud or is a cry without an alphabet, the choice word, the chosen silence, unmolested language surges toward knowledge, not its destruction.”
So, to heed Morrison’s lessons, I do not want to attempt to explicate all that you are experiencing. What I want to do is offer you hope in solidarity. I want to offer you hope that stems from the tradition of liberation movements in the world. There was a time when the plight of the tribes who lived on the land occupied by the United States went unheard. There was a time when the plight of the descendants of enslaved Africans become African-Americans went unheard. Do not judge the size of the wave by the perceived shallowness of the tide. This battle is not over. With every person arriving to knowledge of your plight and convicted to act even in the midst of language like “conflict,” “both sides,” and other neutralizing terms which minimize what is happening, your movement, which is our interconnected movement, continuously grows stronger.
So, Palestine, I tell you that you are forever in my heart. I will not forget you. I will fight with you.
Brick-by-brick, wall-by-wall, apartheid has to fall!
From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!
Palestine will never die! Palestine will never die!
A child of the Mattaponi, Pamunkey, Chickahominy, and enslaved Africans become African-Americans,
Kelvin Green II
Kelvin Green II ’22 is a member of Chocolate City and the Rho Nu Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. and the outgoing Assistant Officer on Diversity for the Undergraduate Association.