top of page

"When you leave here, tell them what you saw here and the hearts of our people."

Updated: May 31, 2023

In 1997 I lived in Palestine. It is where I learned first hand about rubber bullets (they don’t bounce off of your skin, FYI), about the militarization of so-called "serve and protect" forces and of what oppression looks like. I learned what it looks, smells and feels like to see bombs and bullets rain down over us as retaliation for protest and rocks thrown. I learned about rebellion, survival and resiliency; that what you call security is actually terrorism.

Overlooking the hills of Birzeit. This was the view from my little shared apartment balcony. We often saw families congregate on hillsides to scream love at each since the roads among houses were closed down due to israeli miliary checkpoints.
Hills of Birzeit, Palestine | Photo Credit: Bina M. Patel, 2007

So what does one do after bearing witness to so much horror? Take action. It is in the reimagining & redesigning of systems and structures that we'll find a new way. It takes truth-seeing and truth-telling about how to get there; a new/everlasting truth. Tell everyone as an act of allyship and of love. Invest in a new vision rooted in real stories of what oppression, systemic injustice and real healing looks like. Think about what real violence is the violence that oppresses people that pushes them to the margins. Imagine what pain feels like when it is not yours.

Last night, the sounds of San Diego were so similar. The despair on the part of truth-tellers walking the streets was so similar to that of the Palestinians I went to school with. Seeing the SWAT team fully armored was the same as the Israeli Defense Forces. Seeing the photos of cities across the country with truth-tellers doing their work while fully geared up military sets up a condition of violence (not peace).

One of the most vivid memories from my time there was hearing from Palestinian friends:

"Tell everyone. Tell people, your family, tell everyone what is really happening here. Who we really are - tell them, please. When you leave here, tell them what you saw here and the hearts of our people."

And so I tell you, as an ally. I tell you in love. And as you bear witness to what is unfolding around you, tell the stories of those who are bravely facing the darkness in hope of the light.

Written on the evening of June 1, 2020 as the national protests against police brutality and racism unfolded.


bottom of page