AJA Letter of Solidarity With BDS and SJP
What is liberation? We in Aja understand liberation as being the freedom from any and all oppressive limitations and constrictions on the ability for humans to live and thrive. As a group for Black womxn, femmes and non binary people, we recognize both the mutuality of our struggles with the Palestinian people and our common humanity that inseparably binds our lives and our efforts. As such, Aja stands in firm solidarity with Students for Justice in Palestine, the Palestinian people as a whole, and unequivocally support the BDS Campaign. We know that the liberation of Black people is not complete without the intentionality of liberation for its intersections of womxn, queer and non-binary. We also know that our freedom is not complete without the freedom of Palestinians. Settler colonialism got us all fucked, and in playing into their false divisions along race, gender, regional lines, we give power and continuity to global white supremacy and colonialism. Only through coming together and forging meaningful relationships of mutual support can we hope to realize our collective freedom. For this, we vow to commit our time, resources, and energy to move Swarthmore to divest from Israeli occupation and apartheid in Palestine by removing its financial support of Lockheed Martin, Elbit Systems, Boeing, Caterpillar, Hyundai, Bank Hapoalim, and Hewlett Packard.
70 years of trauma have marred the lives of generations of Palestinians, a cry against multiple violences that has fallen largely on deaf ears in the international community for far too long. Under international law, we know that the conditions for apartheid are as follows: the denial of the right to life for a population based on race, the direct and measured infliction of violence towards the bodies, minds and spirits of this group on the basis of race; arbitrary arrest and imprisonment; deliberate imposition of deplorable conditions that infringe upon their capacity for self determination and overall physical health and livelihoods; deliberate and calculated legal measures to prevent this group from participating in the political, social or economic life of the country and a denial of basic human rights; calculated measures to physically divide this population on racial lines by the creation of separate resource reserves and relegation to ghettos and/or communities lacking in infrastructure. Understanding these points are crucial, as they outline clearly the state of apartheid being enforced by Israel. We cannot sit idly by while our brothers and sisters in humanity are subject to these abuses. We must also be clear in stating that we do not need international law to confirm for us what we can see with our eyes and know in our hearts to be abhorrent and wrong.
For Black womxn, femmes and non-binary peoples, this fight is personal. In the United States, violence against Black womxn can be found on every level of society, from the systemic to the intimate, and our pain is largely normalized and invisibilized. More than 2/5ths of Black womxn experience physical intimate partner violence compared with 31.5% of all womxn in the United States; this is the highest rate of violence amongst womxn overall. The U.S. public education systems are disciplining our daughters at higher rates than all other groups of girls, with 45% suspended between K-12 grades between 2011-2012. The carceral state funnels our bodies into prisons at higher rates than white womxn: at any age we are twice as likely to be imprisoned. Black trans womxn are murdered in increasingly higher numbers every year. According to the Human Rights Campaign, of the 102 trans womxn murdered between 2013-2017, 86% were Black, Latinx or Indigenous. Medically, the voices of Black womxn go unheard about our health concerns, our pain ignored and our bodies disrespected. The mortality rate of Black womxn in childbirth is 243%. These injustices are sustained by the democratic ills of capitalism and the profitability of our suffering. As we organize to make visible our transgressions and make changes to ensure our lives are protected, we also must turn our attention to necessary healing. Our bodies, minds and souls need nourishment and affirmation as they are stripped constantly of support. The mission of Aja is to imbue our healing practices with love, sustain ourselves through community care, and to re-align ourselves with our power and divinity through healthy mind-fullness. We recognize our lives and its necessary protections not as civil but as human rights. In line with this understanding, we recognize that our fight for our lives is one and the same as the Palestinian people, and again reiterate that these values and rights are secured soundly by our common humanity. Healing walks hand in hand with justice; Palestine must be free, from the river to the sea.
We are disappointed that the administration, instead of choosing to stand with the vast majority of the student body in putting our core values of humanization into practice, has actually chosen to work against the BDS campaign and our collective (although distinct) fights for liberation: the latest choice being the refusal of administrators to send out campus-wide emails about the rally happening today in Parrish. We are not surprised. The administration will not show their support for Palestinian liberation by divesting from apartheid, especially not where wealthy right-wing donors can hear, unless we, the student body lead by SJP’s crucial campaign, make them. We refuse to see our work as separate from that of those fighting for Palestinian liberation, as the administration seems to want us to. As such, Aja commits to investing our time, energy, and resources to this campaign. We are grateful to SJP for all the hard work they have put into this life-affirming campaign and we look forward to showing the administration that they cannot divide us and cannot continue to ignore their role in perpetuating apartheid, oppression, and violence in Palestine.
With love and in power,
Aja Core + Family