A member of Black4Palestine with Palestinian youth at the Heartbeats to Palestine camp for youth in Lebanon.
In August I had the privilege of traveling to Lebanon to represent Black4Palestine while building solidarity by working as a coach at Heartbeats to Palestine, a sports camp for Palestinian youth. My role at the camp was as a basketball coach, which was dominated by the girls, although there were a handful of boys. The camp serves Palestinian youth that live in various refugee camps, those that live outside the camps, as well as several Lebanese and Syrian youth.
As a former athlete, the camp was unlike any sports camp or sports event I have attended as it combined sports with political, cultural and self awareness. Each day involved the youth practicing two different sports (basketball, soccer, running, swimming, and volleyball were all offered) as well as an activity on politics, culture and self-awareness. This helped to bridge the goal of the camp with the sports. One of the main goals of the camp is to move beyond the awareness of the Palestinian right to return and build capacity for the actual return.
I gave a talk at the camp for one of the cultural sessions. I spoke about the history of Black4Palestine and the projects we had going on at the time. I also spoke broadly about police brutality and the persistent non-indictment of white officers, stop and frisk, the patrolling of Black communities, and the training of several city police departments by the Israeli military. The youth had a number of questions:
Are they still killing you?
If the police are doing this then why would some Black people become police officers?
How can these things happen when your President was Black?
It was a fruitful conversation on several levels. Black US America is not accessible outside of mainstream media so this was an opportunity for the youth to see into our world beyond stereotypes and negative images. There were lots of questions about my hair, our communities, and how we handle interactions with the police. This conversation also opened up conversations about how they were experiencing their own situation.
I had a few days before and after the camp to see Lebanon. I was able to spend time in, visit, or go to events in Jadra, Saida, Beirut, Tripoli, Brumanna, Bekaa Valley, and Miniyeh (the site of the camp). My ability to attend and see so much was because of the generosity of my hosts. I would like to see this be something we participate in annually while also building this relationship throughout the year.
The only thing that would make this trip better is to send more than one person.
Please help us make trips like this possible for more people in 2018 by supporting our work.