Systemic discrimination, settler-colonialism and inequality lie at the heart of a global struggle.
By Adam Mahoney | The Electronic Intifada | July 15, 2020
Then, a 17-year-old student asked me: Is it really as hard being Black in America, as they make it seem?
It took less than a week for me to become accustomed to daily interactions with Israeli soldiers carrying guns. It scared me. So did the number of Make America Great Again hats on people walking the streets of the Holy Land.
I had been traveling throughout occupied Palestine for several days on a student reporting trip facilitated by my school, Northwestern University, when a student’s question led to weeks of reflection.
This particular day, I was sitting in a high school classroom in the Ein Mahel local council in northern Israel. The day was focused on understanding the experience of Israel’s indigenous Palestinian minority. I was just excited for the chance to speak with young folks about their experiences growing up in the most heavily contested region in the world.
Our conversation started as arbitrarily as any. We talked about music, sports and all our favorite foods. Yet, the magnitude of the moment we found ourselves in made listing our favorite soccer players seem negligent. Then, a 17-year-old student asked me: Is it really as hard being Black in America, as they make it seem? The intonation in his voice let me know it had been sitting at the tip of his tongue since the moment I sat next to him.
I didn’t know how to answer. I was 19. I didn’t know how to enter the conversation with any grace to acknowledge our different experiences living under colonial occupations, because at the time I was caught up in the lofty neoliberal idea that I was living most freely in America.
But the question stayed with me. How truly different were our experiences?