Last weekend, a woman walked around Burlington in blackface and yelling racial slurs as a tactic for drawing attention to the injustices that are happening in Palestine. The Peace & Justice Center supports Palestinians in their fight for liberation, but we do not support this woman or her tactics. It is hypocritical to demand freedom for one oppressed group while simultaneously oppressing another.
Not only were her actions extremely hurtful to those in the Black community, they were also harmful to the movement for Palestinian freedom.
While a bit of a cliché, it is true that none of us will be free until we are all free. Divisiveness and making the enemy of another oppressed group does nothing but help uphold White Supremacy. Divide and conquer has been a tactic for white supremacy and racial capitalism for hundreds of years; in fact, it was fundamental in the creation of racism.
We know that this woman and her actions do not reflect everyone fighting the injustices in Palestine. We are grateful for local groups like Vermonters for Justice in Palestine and Students for Justice in Palestine, and national groups such as Jewish Voices for Peace and Code Pink. These groups recognize how crucial solidarity and collective liberation are.
To all those, especially the Black community, who have been hurt by this woman: we see you, and we are with you.
To those who support her: why must advocating for one group come at the expense of another?
The Black community is not, and has never been, the enemy or the thing standing between people caring about other social justice issues or not. The Black Community is not the enemy. Racism is. That is why we say #BlackLivesMatter.