tracing out invisible maps

January 2, 2009 § 2 Comments

last night we hung out with my brother and his girlfriend and watched a stoner movie: pineapple express.  aza was asleep upstairs.  the movie was decent, a comedic noir.  in the middle of the movie we somehow got on the topic of my lil family’s impending trip to palestine.  and the fact that the border guards kinda dont trust me.  we ended up stopping the movie and i found myself drawing invisible maps of the middle east on my mother’s leather stool explaining the nakba, the 1967 war, the occupation.

it was post-midnight, we were a couple of drinks in, and his girlfriend keeps asking me questions.  so i keep tracing out a history of genocide and survival into the air.

when i would return from palestine on break, those of us in the organization with which i worked, were expected to to speak to groups of people, to share our experiences with folks in the states.  the organization encouraged us to speak infront of middle class liberal churches who saw us as a ‘voice for the voiceless’ and you know, we as americans have a ‘louder’ voice than the palestinians with whom we worked so we should use that voice to explain the situation in palestine.

i hated doing this.  resisted doing this.  the last thing i needed to do was use my privileged voice to be the palestine ‘expert’ simply because i had spent a smidgen of time in the region.

what i did was spent alot of time hanging out with my friends and my especially my brother’s friends who congregate at our house.  the boys and girls i had grown up with.  kids who had a high school education (if not the diploma), kids who worked shit jobs and hustled in rag tag cars.  i am like the big sister who made it out of our suburban neighborhood.

i really like talking to these kids.  they understand that the media doesnt tell the truth.  that you cant just stay neutral in a fight.  that the us government is shady.  i tell them: people think its muslims vs jews, but its not really, its just that palestinians have territory that israel wants.  so they are trying to get rid of the palestinian people.  and they nod their heads: yeah, thats real.

i tell them: its like living in the ghetto.  you hear someone got shot down the street.  you cant stay in your house all the time living in fear.  you got to get your kids ready for school.  you probably walk with them because you dont want them walking alone when the streets are hot.  so you keep living your life.  you got to go to work, buy groceries.  you probably dont have as much money as you need.  you probably have more family members living with you than you would like.  you dont think like, im living in the ghetto and its dangerous.  you think, what do i got to do today?  when the cops roll by you stay out of the way.  life is life is life.  thats what its like.

imagine me trying to explain this liberal church folks who think hip hop is too violent but really want to see peace in the middle east.

anyways, after his girlfriend exclaimed: hey i get why israel doesnt like you! and we all get another drink, we turn back on the movie and watch a couple of stoners kill a whole bunch of people.  we go to bed.  and i sleep better than i have in weeks.


§ 2 Responses to tracing out invisible maps

  • whatsername says:

    I dunno, people are people, as someone from the middle class white churches (used to be anyway…) I think I would have understood the living life message, even if the exact situation was something I had to imagine…

    • maia says:

      i can see what you are saying…i was really referring to people who want a ‘balanced’ view of the situation when i say ‘peace in the middle east’…like israel and palestine are equal players in terms of power in the conflict…i should have been more clear about what ‘liberal church folk’ i was referring to…
      although i have to say that i did give presentation to liveral church folk and i would talk about how the occupation of palestine mirrors the occupation of europeans of the americas and they looked at me like this did not compute….

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