A Flag-Waving Black American
By L. Janelle Dance *
Americans usually love to wave flags. No, actually, that’s not true. Americans usually love to wave one flag: The flag of the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. Not me! I am not one of those flag waving Americans. I cannot get all excited about blind American patriotism and American traditions like the celebration of Independence from England/Great Britain, also known as the 4th of July because… well, I won’t go into all the historical details of American History that include the theft of Native American lands, the ethnic cleansing of Native Americans, and the theft of various ethnic groups from West Africa. All of these atrocities are legacies of the American so-called “Independence.”
But, you know what I really want to do? I want to wave a flag for a Palestinian Independence Day. I am dreaming of a future where that day might start much like this one, honoring the victims of the Nakba, and, that day would continue with a Palestinian Independence Day Celebration.
I want to visit Helwe in her homeland. I want to visit Mohammed in his homeland. I want to visit Noura, Samy, Alma, Musa, and Mariam…these are just a few of my Palestinian friends. I WANT TO VISIT ALL MY PALESTINIAN FRIENDS IN THEIR HOMELAND!!! I WANT TO VISIT THEM IN A PALESTINIAN HOMELAND FREE OF ISRAELI OCCUPATION. I want to be a BLACK American waving a PALESTINIAN FLAG in Palestine without worrying about being attacked, arrested, or murdered by the Israeli Occupation Forces who use weapons made in the U.S.A.
I want to wave the Palestinian flag at a Palestinian Independence Day cook out or barbeque a Palestinian “ShaH-wee” where we eat “HOHmus,” “MaH-she,” “FalAHfel,” and watch fire works. And where the fire works are beautiful displays of lights in the sky designed for amusement, designed for celebrations, and not Hellfire Missiles over Gaza designed to murder civilians and destroy Palestinian communities and society. At this Independence Day celebration, I want to say to Helwe, “Helwe, I’m full, I can’t eat any more!” And Helwe says, “Lory Eat! Äta! Habeeti Coolee!”
On Palestinian Independence Day, I want to run from city to city in a Palestine free of Refugee Camps, Checkpoints, and the Separation Wall… Wait, first I want to drive from city to city, but I want to drive in a Palestine Free of Refugee Camps, Checkpoints, and the Separation Wall. And then, I want to get out of my car and run through the center of town waving the Palestinian Flag. I want to run around parts of Gaza and the West Bank, waving a Palestinian flag screaming like a Christian Black American Grandmother would scream, “Hallelujah! Palestinians are free! Hallelujah Israeli Apartheid has been destroyed! Hallelujah, there IS Peace in the Middle East!”—OK, maybe it will be my children who get to run around celebrating Peace in the Middle East—But, in my lifetime, I want to run around Palestine, waving a Palestinian Flag, screaming with joy, “I’m so excited! Palestinians have complete Human and Civil Rights!!!” In an Independent Palestine, I might even scream like an American cowboy and say “YEEE-HYYYE, Palestine!!!!” In Black American English that would be, “Represent, Palestine, Represent!”
In my lifetime, in a future not so far away, I want to make the headlines of CNN, BBC, MBC, Al Jezeera, and all other major networks: “This is Mouin Rabbani reporting for Al Jezeera. The people of Palestine will hold their annual Independence Day celebration and again, this year, Lory Dance will go from city to city screaming ‘Hallelujah!’ and waving the Palestinian Flag!”
I may not be a flag waving American, but I dream of the day when I will be a BLACK American waving a PALESTINIAN FLAG in PALESTINE on PALESTINIAN Independence Day or PALESTINIAN Sovereignty Day. Today, in the name of Human Rights, I wave the Palestinian flag in honor of the victims of the Nakba, Thank you!
*L. Janelle Dance is an Associate Professor of Sociology and Ethnic Studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL). Dr. Dance received a B.A. from Georgetown University, a Masters Degree from Harvard University and a Ph.D. from Harvard University. Currently, she is on-leave from UNL and working as a visiting scholar at Lund University in Sweden. She teaches in the Human Rights Studies Program at Lund U. and coordinates research activities at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Lund U.
(Speech Presented at the Nakba vigil in Malmö, Sweden on May 15, 2011; Sent to arabworldbooks.com on May 22, 2011 ).