So this photo, much to my astonishment, has been circulating on various social media networks to incite an emotional response out of people to the plight of Palestinians. There are a couple issues with this.
America is a settler colonial state. And no, this is not something of the past. Many people, including activists unfortunately, often portray the suffering of Indigenous communities as something that is not rooted in the present. Its not a reality that doesn’t have adverse affects on Indigenous communities currently. Trafficking on reservations is a reality. Mass impoverishment and skyrocketing prices and in turn, lacking access to food in Indigenous communities is a reality. Violence and continued colonization is a grounded and apparently a neglected social justice issue.
This parallel, whether or not it intends to, is crudely neglectful of that. To assume the vast majority of settlers in the US would exude empathy for Palestinians and their stolen land and the ghettoization, if not demolishment of their homes is to assume that they would also then be actively committed to addressing and deconstructing the oppression faced by NDN communities, which is patently false.
Since America in itself is an illegitimate state, the upheaval of the US should not be threatening to anyone who considers themselves a decolonial activist. This photo pretty much says “imagine Americans, if this happened to your country”, but this isn’t our country. None of this is our land to begin with, aside from Indigenous and Black American communities, who have felt the backlash and served as the main and direct recipients of US violence for hundreds of years. No one living in America who does not descend from the genocided and the trafficked should feel the entitlement to and comfort of this land and living here that this infograph would require one to.
How can we expect those that have been here and were the first to experience US bred brutality to feel empathy with us if we are not willing to extend genuine solidarity and exhibit constant conscientiousness of their struggle? I believe in Muslim communities and that we’re able to have a more nuanced and inclusive approach than this. We can’t denounce settler neglect elsewhere while perpetuating it ourselves, which is precisely what this photo did. That’s not activism, that’s exploitation.
I get the message and all but I don’t like having the struggle switched on to americans for them to understand how fucked up this is, this is like that one video of the little white american girl being put in the same situation a syrian girl was going through at the height of the syrian conflicts at the end of 2013 for people to get that what’s going on isn’t just at all
No, actually I don’t think you understand what I was trying to convey at all, otherwise this wouldn’t have been your reply. You missed my point by a light year, so allow me to clarify.
The purpose of my post was not to take attention away from Palestine and I don’t think I did that by any measure. Instead, I am imploring pro-Palestine activists to be actively aware and respectful of other people’s struggles. This illustration defeated exactly what it was trying to accomplish: bringing awareness to the continuous pillaging of Indigenous communities. Highlighting one people’s histories by trampling on another is completely antithetical to very foundation of social justice.
Secondly, how can you compare Indigenous communities to white settlers. You say “Americans” as a homogenous identity as if all bodies and histories that reside within US borders are created equally or that the colonized have any interest in attaching the label “American” to themselves. Me asking people who claim to represent anti colonial practices to be grounded in their politics and approaches to all Indigenous communities and white settler slacktivism have nothing to do with each other. Its an obscene disrespect to collectively address and allude to the colonizer and colonized. By that approach, you could very well insinuate that Palestinians and Israelis are the same since they live within distance. Although, you would never do that because the mass disparity between the occupiers and the occupied is not lost on you in that context, and it should never be lost on you in any context. Which is ultimately what my initial point was.
This leads me to my next point. America is a settler state and due to that fact, everyone aside from NDN and Black American communities is a settler. There are obvious nuances that go into that title, namely the history people have to this land, the relationship they’ve cultivated with non settler communities, what led them to seek habitation on this land, etc. but the status of settler does not diminish. We cannot be aloof and dismissive of that fact. On the contrary, it serves as an injustice to not see the similarities and parallels between various settler colonial states, the way they operate, both internally and externally. There is much solidarity that can be formulated between communities who face comparative histories. However. that can’t exist if we do not make a conscious effort towards it.
Lastly, let’s kill this poisonous idea that groups who stand for justice are above critique or improvement. They are not. We all might mean well, but do carry our own baggage and unlearning. Whoever made this picture could stand to become more invested in the history of this nation and incorporate that history into their present activism.