Our Revolution: First Nations women in solidarity with Palestine

Lately, I find myself frustrated by the way that women’s voices are still routinely silenced within activist circles on issues that directly affect us, and the gendered nature of roles we are pushed into during organizing (read: the background). This is certainly the case with Indigenous women and Palestinian women who work tirelessly at resistance, only to have our contributions undervalued and silenced; to be called divisive when we raise issues of patriarchy and misogyny that need to be obliterated, if we wish our movements to survive and thrive.

Rather than give a lecture, I read this poem on July 19, 2014 at a rally for Gaza in Saskatoon, Canada (and again in NYC in September 2014, at the Peoples Climate Convergence, alongside Immortal Technique).

We’re half the world
but carry the rest of it on our backs

We both live in occupied territories
But what can I know about you
Half a world away from me

You and me, we know violence
The pain of our mothers
The memories of this land

We share a history of being moved
removed
moved again
taken from our homes
and wondering if we’ll ever go back

We’re shared sleepless nights telling
retelling
telling again
the stories they tried to take from us
and trying to remember the ones they did

You and me, they see us as passive and weak
Disposable and unintelligent
Pawns and prizes in the politics of men

As if those boys simply sprung out of the ground

You and me
We’re the ones they run over on their way to the revolution
But we’re the ones who hold it down at home
Hebron via 20th Street
Because we know that even with guns going off in the background
Children still have to be fed

So this is for Amal1
a 17 year old girl shot by an IDF soldier
while reading a book on her porch
And this is for Einav
the girlfriend that solider went home and killed two years later

– Tell me again about your revolution

This is for Anna Mae,
A Mi’kmaq activist executed point blank on Pine Ridge
Her body left in the snow to freeze
The voice that had grown a little too strong

– Tell me again about your revolution

This is for the women in refugee camps
The 53%
forced to endure labor and give birth in the dirt

– Tell me again about your revolution

This is for the women who never left their houses
until the day they were carried out

– Tell me again about your revolution

This is for the women who are raped
and told that speaking out will dishonor their community
and abortion is a crime
So it’s best to suffer in silence

– Tell me again about your damn revolution

You and me
We’re the ones who lead the charge in the streets
Intifada and Idle No More
And we won’t fight only to return home as servants

So this is for the Arab women who fund girls schooling
And for the girls who have the courage to learn

– You and me

We’re the nation

And this is for the mothers and daughters
leading movements from Gaza to the grasslands

– You and me
We’re the resistance

And this is for the women
who are told not to speak
not to write or read
not to dream or feel
but do it anyway

– You and me
We’re the revolution

1. Simona Sharoni, “Homefront as Battlefield. Gender, military occupation and violence against women,” in Women and the Israeli Occupation: The Politics of Change, ed. Tamar Mayer. (London: Routledge, 1994), 121.

Other resources that inspired me:

The Women Are Marching: The Second Sex and the Palestinian Revolution by Philippa Strum

Palestinian Women of Gaza and the West Bank, Ed. Suha Sabbagh

Women & Conflict in the Middle East by Maria Holt

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