On Defending Our Spaces: In Solidarity with Chicago Dyke March


The Lifted Voices Collective is now, as ever, in solidarity with the Chicago Dyke March Collective. We know those words, on their own, will be enough to rile up a great many people. The threats and vitriol that have been hurled by those passing judgment from afar has been both disturbing and relentless, and have received little condemnation from liberals who were quick to condemn Dyke March Collective, without any fact-checking or context.

A number of us were at Dyke March 2017, and our assessment of events is consistent with the official Dyke March statement, which corrected a number of the falsehoods being spread about the event, including the narrative that stars of David were banned from the event — a lie the media was all-too-happy to embrace.

But we feel there is more to be said, from our perspective, as a group that believes in the right of community self defense, on a personal, political and cultural level.

Everyone is against apartheid, when it’s in the history books. When it’s current, people with “good politics” will insist that we all agree to disagree. But when a people are denied the right to move from place to place, when their access to electricity, water and medical care are severely restricted, when those people are tortured, imprisoned and killed, without warning or explanation, when those people are bombed as collective punishment for the alleged crimes of others — when all of this is the day-to-day policy of an apartheid state that is grinding an entire people under the wheels of its illegal expansion, in real time, and you simply agree to disagree, you are tacitly agreeing. You are complicit.

As a collective of Black and Indigenous organizers, we refuse to be complicit with apartheid.

Nestled somewhere between enthusiasm and polite disagreement, you will find the ongoing perpetration of oppression, always. Israel has no regard for international law, but we aspire to a higher law: The same higher law that tells us that genocide and slavery are unacceptable. When we normalize such harms, within the scope of casual debate, we default on our moral obligations.

In this moment of poorly informed outrage, we must ask, how many of those who’ve raised the alarm are aware of the conditions of Israeli apartheid? Honestly, and in any detail? Because if you will not take the time to educate yourself about Palestinian suffering and death, at the hands of an apartheid state, then you should not feel the need to editorialize about what happens in Palestinian liberation spaces.

We believe that oppressed peoples have a right to create spaces where their humanity is respected. Zionist arguments in support of Israel’s anti-Palestinian policies are grounded in the idea that Jewish people deserve a safe place in the world. But shifting oppression, from one people to another, is not the creation of safety. All oppressed people deserve a safe place in the world, but the Zionist perspective, in this matter, tells us that, while Israel has a right to commit land theft and impose apartheid, Palestinians do not have the right to organize any space, no matter how small, wherein everyone agrees on their human rights. As Black and Indigenous organizers, we know the pain of being expected to suffer politely, in order to prove that we do not deserve to suffer. We do not accept those terms, for ourselves or anyone else, and if you do not believe in our human rights, or those of Palestinians, you’re not welcome at our picnics either.

In solidarity,

The Lifted Voices Collective