The uprising in Ferguson changed my life. When I first heard about the killing of Michael Brown, I noted that he was being labeled a “thug” even as his body lay in the street. My thoughts immediately went to the Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip, who in that summer of 2014 were experiencing yet another Israeli military onslaught.
In the same way Michael Brown was being dehumanized in death, Israeli and U.S. media and politicians justified murder by calling Palestinians in Gaza “animals” and declaring them “legitimate targets.” As a Palestinian living only 20 miles from Ferguson, I was compelled to stand with the people of Ferguson to demand justice for all people facing state-sanctioned violence.
Last month, Dr. Angela Davis gave a historic talk in her hometown of Birmingham, Alabama. She was supposed to be there to receive a human rights award from the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (BCRI). However, the Board of the BCRI rescinded the honor because of Dr. Davis’ support of Palestinian rights. Instead, Dr. Davis was honored in an alternative event organized by the Birmingham community who offered her a warm homecoming and affirmed that justice is indivisible.
That night, Dr. Davis spoke about the significance of Ferguson in renewing our global understanding of how state violence impacts communities of color saying, “Ferguson marked the moment when the Black struggle in this country became internationalized once more...largely due to the work of Palestinian resistors on the ground in occupied Palestine, who were the first to offer solidarity to those who were protesting in Ferguson."
In both the United States and in Palestine, we are fighting the racism and dehumanization that allows our children to be killed by the state with impunity.
Just after Dr. Davis spoke in Alabama, I too traveled to Birmingham to attend the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference, a gathering of Black, radical church leaders. Adalah Justice Project partners,Friends of Sabeel North America (FOSNA) and the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, worked with us to develop a resource, Palestine is an Issue of Racial Justice, that was distributed in the registration packets of the over 800 attendees. With Tarek Abuata of FOSNA, I spoke in a workshop about global disruptions from Palestine to Brazil to the United States. We connected with many leaders of the social justice Black church who understand that Palestinian and Black liberation are intertwined.
This is the moment we dreamed into existence, a time of joint struggle and vision where we are working together to win.
Our unity, solidarity, and commitment to collective liberation terrifies our opposition.
Our opposition will do their best to quash the UN Commission of Inquiry report released last week, which found that Israel intentionally targeted civilians, including children, during Gaza’s Great March of Return. (Our colleagues from Adalah in Haifa will be in Geneva next week to support the findings of the report.)
Our opposition is also desperately trying to silence Representative Ilhan Omar for speaking out consistently for human rights at home and abroad, including for Palestinians.
They tried to silence Angela Davis, but our communities rose up and insisted she be heard and honored.
We are destined to win as long as we remain united in rejecting fear, hatred and bigotry while centering Palestinians and all others calling for freedom, equality, and justice.
In solidarity and with love,
Sandra Tamari, Acting Director