It is our responsibility to raise our children this way.
by Addie Domske, IPMN Advocacy Chair (Chicago, IL)
Emma González is 18 and about to graduate from high school this spring. She is the president of the Gay-Straight Alliance at her school, sews many of her own clothes, is the daughter of Cuban immigrants, and is a survivor of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Florida on February 14th. Emma, along with her classmates, has led the country in another movement of students standing up to lawmakers, policy wonks, and general adult apathy. She, along with her classmates, has “called BS” on politicians and the public, who have failed to act on the countless opportunities given to them before now to change our country’s gun laws.
This is not new.
Young Black activists have showed us this before—from 1960s Birmingham braving fire hoses, staging walkouts, and suffering dog bites and church bombings to 2014’s Ferguson marches facing police repression, tear gas, rubber bullets, and jail cells. Though countless unarmed Black youth have continued to die, they continue to respond that they matter.
Young native people led the cause in Standing Rock, North Dakota to protect their water. Though the cameras have left them and the state and federal government has abandoned them, they continue to respond with steadfast protection of their resources.
Young undocumented folks endure family separation, financial and future uncertainty, public shaming, failure to act by lawmakers, and the worst of American exceptionalism, and still they continue to respond that they are here to stay.
I was in Palestine and Israel for sixteen days at the beginning of February. (You’ll hear more about that trip in some upcoming e-blasts, but for now, check out our live updates from team members while we were gone!)
During the trip, I made sure to schedule a time to visit the village of Nabi Salih, located near Ramallah in the West Bank, where, from 2010-2016, the village held weekly marches to protest the occupation. During that time period, around 350 villagers were injured by Israel troops during their peaceful marches. Nabi Salih is home to Palestinian teenager, Ahed Tamimi, who just spent her 17th birthday in an Israeli jail for slapping a solider, which went viral on the internet.
When in Nabi Salih, we spent some formal time discussing Ahed’s case in the Tamimi home, full of Tamimi cousins (including the incomparable Janna Jihad, the youngest reporter in the world) and neighbors. After a while, coffee was served and we had some time to start a few side conversations. I was sitting next to Bassem, Ahed’s father, and asked him, “What is the role of family members—the ones that are left behind in the movement? How do you feel about Ahed being at the center of this all and how do you respond to the criticism you receive of having her at the forefront?”
He replied: "They come for us because we are Palestinians, not because we are protesting. They come for us when we are sleeping at night in our beds, so why would we choose not to protest on the way? It is our responsibility to raise our children this way."
Racism oppresses Black people not because they lead marches, but because they are not white; colonialism constrains native people not because they build resistance camps to save their water, but because they are native; Ameritocracy and American exceptionalism limit undocumented students, not because they lobby lawmakers for their rights, but because they lack specific legal documents.
"If they attack us at night when we are sleeping in our beds, why would we choose not to protest on the way?"
Some have said in the past few weeks that children are being used as crisis actors in situations like the Parkland shooting, and they’ve been saying this for years about children resisting in places like Palestine. To them, I say, it is our responsibility to raise our children this way.
Young people and children have a voice in this cause. They are using it, now. They are not the future—they are resisting, now. They are giving us eyes to see and ears to hear, and we would be foolish to diminish them as inexperienced or mischaracterize them as actors without agency.
It is our responsibility to raise our children this way—to raise their voices and in turn, listen up. Listen up to what young people are teaching today: Black lives matter. Water is life. We are here to stay. Free Ahed. Free Palestine.
To learn more about Ahed Tamimi, visit this page. Sign the petition to release her here.