Black in Gaza

© April 2024 by Mumia Abu-Jamal

As the ruinous war continues to rage in Gaza, Black and Palestinian scholars continue to tell the untold stories of these oppressed peoples. One such scholar is Greg Thomas, the founder and editor of the journal Proud Flesh and author of several books on Black, gender and post-colonial studies.

Children of a Black community in Gaza after the Israeli destruction of their home in the countryside near Deir Al-Balah. – Photo: Mahmoud Selmi Khawalda and Muhammad Ismail

In a remarkable recent article posted online, Thomas scripted an eye-opening account of Black revolutionaries and their connections to Palestine. In an article entitled “Comrade George, Gaza, and the Black community,” https://sfbayview.com/2024/03/comrade-george-gaza-and-the-black-community/ dated March 27, 2024, Professor Thomas recounts the life and present struggles of George L. Jackson, who had the unique distinction of being named Field Marshall of the Central Committee of the Black Panther Party from prison. George Jackson was assassinated in California by prison guards on August 21, 1971 at San Quentin State Prison ostensibly because he was trying to escape.

In posters both online and in the Gazan streets, the smiling visage of George gazes out from a front page resembling the layout of the Black Panther Newspaper backed by a red, blazing field that looks like fire. Next to his face, a fist is raised with a tiny tattooed flag of Palestine on the skin beneath the wrist.

Thomas’s article is accompanied by a splash of color photos of beautiful Black boys and girls, most smiling, and a brilliant sun. But there is bitterness amidst the beauty, for these children are sitting atop the shattered ruins and remnants of their homes. Why shattered? Because their homes were bombed by Israeli pilots in August of 2022, just days before Thomas was due to present his exhibition at the YMCA of Gaza. A week later, his exhibition supported by his Palestinian collaborators went on as scheduled, and it was a smashing success. Palestinian scholars, artists, journalists, and scribes filled the seats, fascinated at the stories of Black revolutionary George Jackson.

This exhibition was shown in Gaza, in the West Bank and in the old city, Jerusalem, and its hosting space was the African Community Hall, which turned on Thomas to his study of the Afro-Palestinian community there. From whence comes this community? From all parts of Muslim Africa. Palestinians, historians say, may have fought in the Mamluc wars when slave armies rebelled against the Ottoman Empire during the late 1700s and early 1800s.

Those photos of African Palestinian children could have been taken in Baltimore, in Harlem, or in Oakland. Former Black Panther leader Huey P. Newton visited Syria, Lebanon, and the West Bank in 1980. In 2016, the Party’s former Minister of Culture, Emory Douglas, joined a 19 member delegation to Palestine to show solidarity with Palestinian people and their struggle for national liberation. Douglas also collaborated with Palestinian artists to create new works of art of resistance.

The exposition in Gaza, by the way, curated by Professor Thomas, was entitled “George Jackson in the Sun of Palestine.”

With love, not fear, this is Mumia Abu-Jamal.

April 22, 2024.

Commentary recorded by Prison Radio

 

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