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As co-founder and publisher of The TRiiBE, and a Black creator with a mission rooted in liberation, I wasn’t able to rest until I gained a greater understanding on why the State of Israel has unleashed an unending siege on Gaza and its Palestinian people after a HAMAS attack on Oct. 7. I’ve spent days reading, researching and learning, looking for the details that mainstream media wasn’t giving the masses. By using my platform, I hope to inspire those who may feel confused or afraid to speak truth to power.

On Manifest Destiny

I was a seventh-grade student in my Social Studies class when I became aware of propaganda for the first time. The words “Manifest Destiny” were written in big letters on the chalkboard, as my teacher grinned. This period in history — the one where Native Nations are massacred, their land stolen, and survivors confined to reservations —  was taught to me, a Black American child and descendent of enslaved Africans, as God’s Will. 

I remember seeing a depiction of Manifest Destiny in art form: a white woman in an angelic white gown, with the glow of the heavens illuminating her body. She’s carrying a school book while guiding white settlers westward across the continent. She is Civilized/Holy personified.  Looking ahead, her light is casting out the darkness, which includes depictions of dark-skinned Indigenous peoples, who are shirtless and fleeing. Savages. Animals. My young mind would start to wrestle with this narrative. Schools teach the genocide of Indigenous peoples as if it were a mere comic book with heroes and foes — clashes between two sides. 

"American Progress" by John Gast
"American Progress" by John Gast

By the time I was a junior in college, I had participated in producing propaganda myself, exploring a full-time documentary internship in New York City. The director I worked with, a white man, was producing a documentary series for PBS that chronicled General George Custer, a celebrated war hero of American history whose “martyrdom was shrouded in controversy and contradictions.” The controversy and contradiction was that, during his mid-1800s killing spree of Native communities, he eventually (gasp) lost and was killed in the Battle of Little Bighorn, which Natives called the Battle of Greasy Grass — a catastrophe with two names. 

While the film is critical of Custer, it frames him as a charismatic leader with a lust for war fame rather than an enactor of white supremacist terror on behalf of the U.S. government. You know… the Civilized/Holy vs. the Savage/Animals. Much of Custer’s historic record would be enshrined into history by his wife who made sure to write propagandist books that paint Custer as a martyr, after his shocking defeat by Native warriors which muddied his own Manifest Destiny. 

I thought of all of this as we acknowledged Indigenous Peoples’ Day on Oct. 9, while some Chicagoans proudly marched in support of Christopher Columbus Day, facts be damned. The willful ignorance and harm that the American people and its leaders carry out in the erasure of Native peoples is vile beyond words. From teaching kids that one nursery rhyme about Columbus, when we know he didn’t even step foot on this land, to reducing the word “mohawk” to a hairstyle, (do a Google Image search and look at the first images you see), Native peoples in America are already living in the apocalypse. Their languages were wiped out. Sacred sites, desecrated. But it’s OK, as long as it’s done in the name of democracy, America, and the Civilized/Holy. That is our bias. 

That is American propaganda.

Many families came out to show solidarity with those affected by the Israeli war on October 11, 2023 in the Loop. Photo by Ash Lane for The TRiiBE®

The uncomplicated history of Zionist colonialism

For decades, many in the international media landscape have ignored Palestinian cries for injustice. Their actions have done a grave disservice to the public by failing to educate us on how we got here. So here is a contextual offering of colonial history related to the establishment of the State of Israel, as a jumping point for you to research and explore:

  • From the early 1500s to the end of World War I, Palestine was governed by the Islamic-led Ottoman Empire. Most scholars agree that the Christians and Jews also lived on this land and, as religious minorities, were treated with tolerance.
  • On the contrary, in Europe, Jews faced ongoing anti-semitism and persecution. Out of this persecution came a political movement to give Jews a nation-state where they could rule and govern themselves. This is called Zionism and should not be confused with Judaism. Judaism is a faith that has thirteen principles, none of which call for a nation-state. People of multiple ethnicities and nationalities practice Judaism. Not all Jews are Zionists. 
  • Zionism started to take root in the late 1800s, see “Der Judenstaat [The Jewish State],” a manifesto by an Austro-Hungarian Jewish activist named Theodor Herzl. He believed the Jewish population couldn’t survive without its own nation. Zionists and the United Kingdom began to negotiate a way to colonize a land that will become a home for Jews in order to solve the so-called “Jewish Problem.” Hertz was open with his fascist intent:
Der Judenstaat [The Jewish State]
Der Judenstaat [The Jewish State]
  • The Zionist Movement considered multiple different nations to colonize. Argentina, it was almost you. But ultimately Zionists saw great opportunity in Palestine as a land that would draw much enthusiasm to their cause through religion. 
  • While the British were cutting deals with Zionists, they also made a pact with Arabs in a series of letters exchanged between 1915 and 1916 called the Hussein-McMahon Correspondence, pledging support of the establishment of an independent Arab state in exchange for their participation in launching an Arab revolt against the Ottoman Empire. In these letters, they promise that “Great Britain will guarantee the Holy Places against all external aggression.” 
  • In 1917, the British made a public pact with Zionists called the Balfour Declaration. In it, the British pledged support to establish and recognize a nation-state for the Jewish people in Palestine, which was not their territory at the time. Palestine was still an Ottoman region.
  • World War I offered a prime opportunity for Zionists to work with the “Great Powers” to take Palestine from the Ottoman Empire. The U.S., who sat out of the war between 1914 and 1916, joined WWI in 1917, helping to make that a reality.
  • After WWI, Palestine became the British Mandate of Palestine. The British would split up the rest of land, that was previously the Ottoman Empire, with France, the Russian Empire and the Kingdom of Italy, breaking their promise to recognize an Arab state in that region and drawing borders that disrupted ethnic and religious communities. This land grab was premeditated in a secret 1916 pact called the Sykes-Picot Agreement. 
  • But the promise of the Jewish “national home” had not been fulfilled. Here’s a letter from Louis D. Brandeis, a prominent Zionist and friend of U.S. President Woodrow Wilson, pleading for Wilson to get involved in 1920. 
  • The British and the United States supported the immigration of thousands of Jewish settlers into Mandatory Palestine, which was 78% Muslim in 1922. Between 1922 and 1935, the Jewish population rose from 9% to nearly 27% of the total population, according to AlJazeera. The relationship between Jewish settlers and Arabs in Mandatory Palestine was volatile and came to a boiling point when armed Zionists kept challenging Arabs for control of the al-Buraq Mosque, which Jews call the Haram al-Sharif (or the “Wailing Wall”). Arabs resisted in a 1929 series of al-Buraq Uprisings.

Now I must remind you that the Jews had been living in this region with Arabs peacefully  for centuries prior to Mandatory Palestine and the arrival of armed, Zionist Jews. So, while the history books start to get into Civilized/Holy retellings of history around this point, I have to note that Arab resistance mounts as a reaction to colonial settler violence and disrespect of the local community. The Palestinian Youth Movement has compiled a history of Arab-Palestinian Resistance for you to “educate yourself on the history of Palestine beyond the objective facts of colonial domination.” But for those of you who are primarily concerned about the horrific violence of HAMAS, you should know that the State of Israel funded them in order to sow discord in a rising, unified Palestinian resistance. HAMAS, which is the Arabic acronym for Harakat al-Muqawama al-Islamiya (Islamic Resistance Movement) became the governing body of Gaza, but they are also a multinational political and military organization. Their representatives have done live interviews and spoken very clearly that they are not accepting anything other than the complete return of ALL of that land to Palestinians.

  • Between the 1920s and 40s, extremist Zionist militia organizations, such as the Irgun Zvai Leumi, Stern Gang and the Haganah, carried out terrorism (yes, terrorism) on the people of Palestine, raiding and killing Arab villagers, taking their land and even assassinating British people. The Haganah is the precursor to today’s Israeli military, which is called the  Tzva Haganah le-Yisraʾel (“Israel Defense Forces”).
  • The British had had enough and gave up control of Mandatory Palestine to the United Nations, who then decided to split it into two states in 1947 (see Resolution 181). That went completely against the objections of Arabs in that region, who felt bullied and unheard. I found this analysis by a Lebanese-British historian, published in June of 1946 by The Arab Office, Washington, DC, to be helpful in understanding the Arab point-of-view at that time.
Is Zionism the solution of the Jewish Problem? by A.H. Hourani
  • Immediately after the announcement to establish Israel and Palestine as two states, the Arab nations of Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria declared war on Israel on May 14, 1948. Israel won and became an established State (though multiple nations do not recognize the State of Israel to this day). U.S. President Harry S. Truman, who supported the creation of a Jewish state, recognized the new nation that day as well.
  • According to Al Jazeera: “Between 1947 and 1949, at least 750,000 Palestinians from a 1.9 million population were made refugees beyond the borders of the state. Zionist forces had taken more than 78 percent of historic Palestine, ethnically cleansed and destroyed about 530 villages and cities, and killed about 15,000 Palestinians in a series of mass atrocities, including more than 70 massacres.”
  • While Palestinians mourn the devastating event called Nakba, which is Arabic for “catastrophe,” Jewish people around the world celebrate May 14, 1948 as their War of Independence — a catastrophe with two names.  The State of Israel has banned teachings of the Nakba.


On Oct. 10,  Black Lives Matter Chicago (BLM Chi) posted an image of a parachuting Palestinian with the words “I Stand With Palestine.” That post went viral, reaching over 20 million people on Twitter within hours, drawing outrage from a Jewish community that was scared and mourning. BLM Chi has since apologized. The post was cruel and it concerned me, as someone who knows that Chicago’s grassroots organizers have diligently worked on behalf of the oppressed. In this instance, however, the impact of their post was not working to serve Palestinians or Black liberation organizers. For Palestinians trying to combat a label of being viewed as terrorists, the post broadcasted yet another image that played into people’s collective fears. For Black liberation organizers looking to build community, the post sowed confusion and distrust amongst potential allies. 

I draw from the book, Let This Radicalize You by Kelly Hayes and Mariame Kaba, two organizers and thought leaders I admire, when I challenge those of you who want to be helpful in this moment as messengers. Ask yourselves, what do I want people to do? If you want people to educate themselves, call their representatives, connect with local Palestinian organizations or donate to Palestinian liberation causes, then find and share those resources. As someone who can sometimes get baited into arguing with antagonizing people on social media, I’ve found that it’s a waste of my time and a huge drain of my energy. Moving with intention, and with impact in mind, can help to deepen our collective thinking on the crisis at hand — and save lives. 

Now that I’ve addressed how a group of young, under-resourced community organizers made a mistake, let me direct your attention to the most powerful man in the world, U.S. President Joe Biden, who intentionally declared on the world stage that he saw images of babies who had been beheaded by HAMAS. The White House later walked back that statement, but the lack of accountability is egregious. A head of state making a false public statement on television is not just a lie. It is propaganda. I know we as Americans don’t think propaganda happens here. Yet, while many people will never see the White House’s retraction, the Civilized/Holy have used his statements to justify the mass murder of Palestinians in Gaza. 

Whether it is beheaded babies or weapons of mass destruction, American presidents and political leaders have made propagandistic statements to give America the moral high ground to justify its wars. At no point does America name its own history of land theft, internment camps, slavery or nuclear bombs as terror. So, as an American, ask yourself why you used your platform to critique Black community organizers, but not your public officials who have the power to end the collective punishment of Gazans.

Protester holds signs depicting the reality of many Palestinian children on October 11, 2023 Photo by Ash Lane for The TRiiBE®


In downtown Chicago on Oct. 14, I marched with a crowd of over 10,000 supporters of Palestinian liberation. I saw pain, anger and grief as a choir of voices chanted, “Gaza, Gaza, don’t you cry. We will never let you die.” I stand for Palestine, in the tradition of radical, Black thought-leaders like Toni Morrison, Huey P. Newton, James Baldwin, Malcolm X, Ta-Nehisi Coates and a host of others that have linked Black people’s struggle to the collective struggle of Palestinians and all oppressed people of the world. Additionally, we can have compassion for people experiencing oppression simply because they are people and we can shape a better world together. 

To Chicago’s media and political machines, it should not take the hate-filled murder of a local 6-year-old Palestinian-American boy, by way of police narrative, for you to uplift Palestinian voices. I pray that you share their stories while they are alive to tell them. My heart breaks for all the families who are suffering right now. May Wadea Al-Fayoume, and all the beautiful souls lost as a consequence of colonial violence, rest in eternal peace.

To the Jewish people, citizens of the American Empire and the Civilized/Holy who are complicit in funding the destruction and erasure of the Palestinian people and their culture, it’s time to acknowledge the colonial privilege and violence that you have benefited from. Seek out information outside of Zionist propaganda and do some radical listening to the Palestinian community, which is crying out for help. We have a remarkable and pressing opportunity to stop the Zionist State of Israel from carrying out its premeditated path of destruction and imperialism. Stop hiding from the critiques coming from Arabic people, who are also “semitic” by definition. Speak up and wield your colonial privileges, resources and connections to stop the genocide in Gaza and allow Palestinians who have been exiled from their land to return as free citizens. 


is co-founder and publisher of The TRiiBE.