- Palestinian and Chicano Peoples Share a History of Resistance to Colonization, Racism, and Imperialism
As a revolutionary organizer who sees his work in the proud tradition of Tecumseh, Harriet Tubman, Nat Turner, Juan Cortina, Las Gorras Blancas, John Brown, Geronimo, Frederick Douglass, W. E. B. Du Bois, Ida B. Wells, Emma Tenayuca, Luisa Moreno, SNCC, CORE, La Raza Unida Party, Black Berets, Black Panthers, and many other fierce warriors and revolutionary movements for democratic rights, human rights, and self-determination inside the United States, I am honored to have been asked to share some thoughts on the shared history of resistance of the Palestinian and Chicano people and the questions it raises for academics, activists, and organizers inside the United States.
Understanding U.S. Imperialism and Its Origins
In the United States, the mainstream historical narrative characterizes indigenous genocide, African enslavement, colonization, white supremacy, and racism as historical blemishes that either tarnish the master narrative of a country built on “democracy, freedom, and equality” or represent an unfortunate historical set of anomalies that had to be corrected to build a more “perfect union.”
I am part of the Labor/Community Strategy Center in Los Angeles. The Strategy Center is a leftist institution, an experimental form that seeks to contribute to building a united front against U.S. imperialism rooted in the strategic alliance of the multiracial, multinational working class with oppressed peoples and nations both inside and outside the United States. In this alliance, the Black, Chicano, and Latino working classes have a unique, essential, pivotal, and irreplaceable role (see “Towards a Program of Resistance,” www.ahoranow.com).
Our shared historical view of the United States is that it is a white settler state. The United States was born and sustained through a virulent set of white supremacist ideologies and social arrangements that not only benefited its ruling [End Page 847] class, but enabled virtually every white “citizen” to enjoy the spoils of empire. The United States was driven by a racist capitalist mode of development that was sustained through stolen lands, slavery, conquest, and the exploitation of working class oppressed nationalities.
Given those origins, we cannot be surprised that the United States is the dominant imperialist power in modern history. Though currently in decline, its economic muscle is still able to back its global position by furnishing the largest military forces and the deadliest and most sophisticated weaponry on the planet. This last point is important to understand: imperialism is not sustainable. It’s a system of monopoly capitalism requiring the exploitation, oppression, and subjugation of whole nations and peoples, which leads to the escalation of wars, necessitates militaristic build-up, and inevitably demands military territorial occupation to protect natural resources and strategic hemispheric positioning.
Notes on Palestinian and Chicano History
Our peoples share a common thread of being colonized for more than 500 years:
— By 1517 the Arab Palestinian people were conquered by the Turkish Ottoman Empire, which dominated the area for more than four hundred years. The empire ruled over the territory of the Arab Palestinian majority, but allowed Muslim, Christian, and Jewish people to coexist in the region called Greater Syria.
— By the late 1520s a significant majority of Indigenous nations and people of Central Mexico and modern Central America were conquered by the Spanish Empire, which ruled for more than three hundred years. By the 1700s, the Spanish had made major incursions into northern regions (the modern U.S. Southwest) and as far south as modern Costa Rica, creating what was called the Viceroyalty of New Spain. The population of this territory was made up of a majority of African and Mestizo peoples and Indigenous nations.
Our peoples share a common thread for the struggle of national liberation:
— Mexico achieved independence by 1821 after ten years of fierce guerrilla fighting that was led by Indigenous people, Mestizos, and Afro-Mexicans. Just as Mexico was achieving its independence, the newly formed United States was pushing the boundaries of white settlements westward, transfering large Indigenous nations in the southern states toward the west and increasing its dependence on and extraction of wealth from African slave labor.
— Palestine would probably have achieved its independence...