“When they have their foot on your neck, they can’t go anywhere either.”

29 April 2021

 

By Mona El-Zuhairi and Tarek Abuata

This is the liberation quote we carry with us in the confines of our internal justice work that we often take out to frame our public justice work. We learned it from a man who participated in the lunch counter sit-ins 60 years ago. His name is Dr. Bernard LaFayette, a protégé of MLK.

As CPT continues to work alongside local communities for racial justice, we have to ask ourselves two questions: Beyond sit-ins, street demonstrations, and direct action, what is racial justice for our communities? And, what is a vision that will liberate people of colour (POCs) and white people collectively within and outside of CPT?

Before we offer you CPT Palestine’s response to these questions, let us ground ourselves in the successes that CPT has made for racial justice and build together upon these foundations. You have supported CPT to achieve POC leadership ‘on the ground’ in various countries and multiple continents, and you have supported CPT in reaching a multi-racially led Administrative Team. This leadership has authentically centred the voices of diverse community members in the global POC-led mosaic collective liberation community and has established more effective communal justice models with Black, Brown, Indigenous, and all POC communities. It is important to celebrate these successes as we move forward!

As we jointly celebrate, we invite you to hear our CPT Palestine Team members’ response by telling you about our Be The Change Project. It is a project born out of the voices of prophetic faith revolutionaries who continue to individually stand in the intersections of oppressions and commit to pushing at the limits of racial justice communally. We are Palestinians of various faith backgrounds, and we are justice and equality doers for Palestine and for a better world, working on liberating ourselves from oppressions internally and externally. 

Be The Change’s vision is: “A Palestinian community that is able and ready to provide frameworks to our own people and to the global community for multi-racial multi-faith anti-oppressions work that is centered in liberation. We want to live a microcosm of what's possible for a global community, and to teach and learn how to best continue to transgress borders through social media, online gatherings, and collective liberation demonstrations as we jointly seek new visions of leadership.”  

The spiritual beauty of this statement for us as Palestinian leaders is that it carries a vision of justice that encompasses our own Palestinian community along with POC communities worldwide for the benefit of all of God’s children. It is a vision where no one has their foot on anyone’s neck, intentionally or unintentionally, but where we all rise together and march together daily inside our institutions and organizations so that we don’t have to march in the streets.

Our mission is to liberate ourselves internally by acknowledging our Palestinian society’s oppressions and drafting actions to transform them alongside other POC communities. We will then share our experiences with the full global community to all unite authentically against oppressions.

We will carry out the first part of this mission through multiple webinars and educational workshops within and for our own Palestinian community. We have gathered 12 Palestinians of various faith and gender identities, Palestinians living in Palestine, in Israel and abroad, who will meet to evaluate issues of oppression internally that need to be addressed, hold real conversations that confront these issues, and draft actions aimed at transforming them.  We will then hold workshops to educate and empower our own community to tackle internalized racism, classism, sexism, and interfaith living and working.

Simultaneously, the second part of our mission is to connect with multiple POC-led organizations creating partnerships and conversations that will compare and contrast our various experiences with other communities of colour. Through these connections, we can learn and teach each other internally—and thereafter teach all global communities—how to better combat white supremacy, sexism, gender inequity, queer rights, and joint multi-faith work for justice.

We also invite all CPTers and non-CPTers to attend our POC-led educational webinars that will give you the tools to support your local house of worship and community to grow into a vision of multi-racial, multi-faith anti-oppressions work that is centered in liberation. We will be sharing with you the timeline for these workshops once they are scheduled. Please know that each one of you is a valuable part of this work!

For now, we ask you to reflect on two questions:

  1. How does this vision fit within your own house of worship, local community and national networks’ vision?
  2. Where have POC injustices shown up in your local community and workplace, and how could your community benefit from joining these efforts?

We know that Palestinian and POC resistance reflects the power of our communities’ steadfastness and the multi-layered lessons we can teach local and international communities in our mutual justice work for freedom. These POC-led initiatives are a way forward to achieving a global justice model guaranteed to carry long-term successes. You are already a part of this work.

Stay tuned for more information, and if you are a person of colour who is part of a POC-led group, we invite you to connect with us by emailing tarekabuata@gmail.com.

 

Originally published in CPT's Newsletter vol xxxi No. 1