Photographs: Seph Lawless
The death of the American mall
Once-proud visions of suburban utopia are left to rot as online shopping and the resurgence of city centres make malls increasingly irrelevant to young people.
So this photo, much to my astonishment, has been circulating on various social media networks to incite an emotional response out of people to the plight of Palestinians. There are a couple issues with this.
America is a settler colonial state. And no, this is not something of the past. Many people, including activists unfortunately, often portray the suffering of Indigenous communities as something that is not rooted in the present. Its not a reality that doesn’t have adverse affects on Indigenous communities currently. Trafficking on reservations is a reality. Mass impoverishment and skyrocketing prices and in turn, lacking access to food in Indigenous communities is a reality. Violence and continued colonization is a grounded and apparently a neglected social justice issue.
This parallel, whether or not it intends to, is crudely neglectful of that. To assume the vast majority of settlers in the US would exude empathy for Palestinians and their stolen land and the ghettoization, if not demolishment of their homes is to assume that they would also then be actively committed to addressing and deconstructing the oppression faced by NDN communities, which is patently false.
Since America in itself is an illegitimate state, the upheaval of the US should not be threatening to anyone who considers themselves a decolonial activist. This photo pretty much says “imagine Americans, if this happened to your country”, but this isn’t our country. None of this is our land to begin with, aside from Indigenous and Black American communities, who have felt the backlash and served as the main and direct recipients of US violence for hundreds of years. No one living in America who does not descend from the genocided and the trafficked should feel the entitlement to and comfort of this land and living here that this infograph would require one to.
How can we expect those that have been here and were the first to experience US bred brutality to feel empathy with us if we are not willing to extend genuine solidarity and exhibit constant conscientiousness of their struggle? I believe in Muslim communities and that we’re able to have a more nuanced and inclusive approach than this. We can’t denounce settler neglect elsewhere while perpetuating it ourselves, which is precisely what this photo did. That’s not activism, that’s exploitation.
A beautiful gesture from Lebanon - names of Palestinians killed by Israel in the last two weeks were hung on huge banners in Raouché, Beirut during a demonstration against the latest Zionist assault on Gaza, July 22, 2014. Protesters also threw flowers into the sea. Over 600 people have been killed (as of the morning of July 23, 2014), at least 25% of whom were children.
(Photos: Jamal Saidi / Reuters)
Abby Martin speaks with Suha Najjar, a resident of Gaza City, discussing the horrors of daily life on the ground in Gaza since the Israel’s latest offensive and debunks the ‘human shield’ rhetoric often heard from the IDF when justifying indiscriminate killings of civilians