The horrific police murder of George Floyd, caught on a cell phone by a teenager who then posted the harrowing footage on social media, is only the latest reminder that the civil rights struggles of the past century have not translated into safer streets—not even safer homes–for Black people in the USA. Yet in this deeply painful moment, there is also a sense of cautious hopefulness, as Americans of all races, but also as people globally, are taking to the streets with one message: “Black Lives Matter.”
And from Ramallah to Haifa to the Gaza Strip, Palestinians in the homeland are joining the global denunciations of the system of racial supremacy that has too long held down an oppressed people who taught the world that justice is indivisible, and that none of us can breathe until Black people can breathe. This video compiles some of their statements of solidarity, including “We see you,” “your pain is our pain,” and affirming the belief that justice will prevail.
The Black Lives Matter slogan, “Defund the Police,” is also resonating in all corners of the globe, along with denunciations of the blanket criminalization of Black people, and of the racist underpinnings of American law enforcement, which has always placed property over humanity. A much-needed discussion is taking place in homes, on social media, and in the streets, about the very identity of the police institution, with its beginning as slave patrols. As I wrote elsewhere: “With their origin as runaway slave patrols—always prioritizing the property of whites over the lives of African Americans, the US police forces have been racist for centuries […]Their behavior today, as they form a weaponized wall protecting banks and shopping malls, rather than the protestors rising up against centuries of injustice, is a direct evolution of their initial mandate—to protect the privileged and their wealth, from the violently dispossessed, those who have been looted of their land, and the fruit of their labor.”
This is why the Black Lives Matter demands are not accommodationist, asking for body cams or a better accountability system. Rather, the message is clear: “Defund the Police” is about dismantling a system that is so essentially racist it cannot be reformed.
Arab Americans, themselves no strangers to law enforcement violence, are also expressing their solidarity with the Black struggle, in individual statements, in works of art honoring Black lives, and in hosting fundraisers to benefit the Movement for Black Lives, and other Black-led organizations. As the Adalah Justice Project put it in their statement, entitled “It is our duty to defend Black lives,” a “rebellion of love” is afoot.
For now, we must make sure this is a movement, not a moment. So let us keep taking to the streets, joining in the rebellion of love against racism. The police, today’s enforcers of racial supremacy, must be abolished, because (as the contributors in this video affirm): Black Lives Matter.