Adonis Diaries

Archive for October 5th, 2018

From Palestine to Ferguson: Reflections on shared grief and liberation

Formerly incarcerated women of color perform the story of a Palestinian teen killed by Israeli police in October 2000. The act of Black-Palestine solidarity highlights shared trauma, but also concrete ways toward liberation.

By Jen Marlowe and Je Naé Taylor. October 1, 2018

Black Lives Matter activists organize a die-in action outside Memorial Church in Harvard University on December 7, 2014 in Cambridge, Mass. (Tess Scheflan/

Black Lives Matter activists organize a die-in action outside Memorial Church in Harvard University on December 7, 2014 in Cambridge, Mass. (Tess Scheflan/


On October 2, 2000, Aseel Asleh, a 17-year old Palestinian citizen of Israel, was shot and killed by Israeli police at a demonstration outside his village in northern Israel.

On September 3, a staged reading of “There is a Field,” a documentary play of Aseel’s life and killing, was performed as part of the Kennedy Center’s Page to Stage Festival, produced by the Gildapapoose Collective, a D.C.-based direct action and arts organization that seeks Black liberation.

Taylor: So There is a Field really started for you as a tribute to Aseel. What connections does this play make for you now?

Marlowe: I finished an earlier version of the play in 2010, and then I put the script down. Several years later, I decided that I wanted to develop the script further, so in the summer of 2014, I picked it back up. This was just as protests against police brutality and racism erupted across the U.S., after police in Ferguson, Missouri killed an unarmed Black teenager.

I couldn’t help but see the parallels between Aseel’s story and the state violence that plays out on Black and Brown bodies here in the U.S. I wanted the play to provide a framework for those connections to be explored.

Taylor: The connections felt so clear to me. When I first saw the play at the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights conference, I felt like I was watching a story about the lived experiences of Black people.

An unarmed teenager is killed by the police, there’s dozens of eye-witnesses, it’s national news – and no police officer is indicted.

Just here in D.C., Terrence Sterling, Alonzo Smith, Javon Hall, Bobby Gross, Ralphael Briscoe, Mariam Carey, Relisha Rudd, are all lives stolen from us by police violence. The play talks about Palestine, but it’s so similar to the injustices at home.

Nardeen at her brother's funeral in October 2000.

Nardeen at her brother’s funeral in October 2000.


Marlowe: You raised $16,000 through readings of the play, and the DMV (DC/Maryland/Virginia) Bail Out bailed out six mothers. You also have been able to offer the Mamas a paid theatre fellowship. How did you first conceive of using There is a Field to raise funds to bail out Black mamas?

Taylor: You and I were already brainstorming ways to use the play in D.C. to benefit folks most impacted by state violence. And this felt like a real, concrete way to do that.

Every Black person I know has been impacted by prison and cages. Either they’ve been locked up, they have someone locked up, or someone they know is a correctional officer, and these are all entry points to Palestine.

(Actually, over 60% of Palestinian youths have experienced administrative detention, extending to 6 months without trial)

Marlowe: Such a huge percentage of Palestinians have spent time in Israeli prisons.

Taylor: Exactly. Aseel’s father was a prisoner. He chose early on to educate his children about his time in prison. Aseel’s parents politicized him at an early age. Aseel’s mother reminds me of the mothers I organize with in Black Youth Project 100 (BYP100), a youth organization, who lead actions with their children at their hips.

Marlowe: There are so many ways you could have raised funds for the DMV Black Mama Bail Out. Why theatre?

Taylor: For me, theatre is liberation. Rehearsal is literally my church, it’s my spiritual practice. The stage gave me a sanctuary to move as big, as loud, as long as I wanted. I want to extend that gift to the people who receive it the least. Because if I believe that freedom is something that we all deserve, then we all deserve theatre.

Marlowe: I remember when I came down to D.C. for two of the fundraiser readings that you organized, and being profoundly moved watching the readings, seeing the concrete solidarity that was being enacted. It wasn’t only talk about Black-Palestinian solidarity.

Aseel’s story was literally, concretely part of bringing freedom to these Black mothers. A few months ago, when you emailed a link to the Page to Stage festival, saying you wanted to apply with There Is A Field, and that the mothers who the play bailed out would be the ones performing – I got chills up and down my spine.

Marlowe: What was it like for you to see the play at the Kennedy Center?

Taylor: It felt very significant to me. People who haven’t been a part of the theatre know the Kennedy Center. Part of the point was to offer a space for dignity to be restored. You just feel differently when you’ve been seen, validated, valued. From being in a cage in May, to being at the Kennedy Center in September! What was it like for you?

Marlowe: I was just totally struck by what the Mamas and the other performers shared in the post-play discussion. Qiana Johnson [who played Jamila, Aseel’s mother] talking about being locked away from her own children for two and a half years, and how the loss of that time with her sons allowed her to relate to Jamila’s trauma.

And how much it meant to Qiana that Kahari, her 14-year-old son, was in the audience watching her.

Qiana had never even seen a play before, much less performed in one. She told me afterwards how comforting it was to have Kahari come and watch his mother be part of this, and be a part of her healing, as he, too, heals.

Taylor: To know what Qiana and Andrea Nelson [who portrayed Hassan, Aseel’s father] endured inside of a cage, and to hear their actual voices outside and on stage – it’s poetry. This is what Jamila would sound like, this is what Hassan would sound like. It’s the voices of those who have struggled with some weighty things.

Marlowe: Was there any moment that particularly stood out to you?

Taylor: During the talk-back, Andrea thanked Gildapapoose for bailing her out and called us her angels. In that moment, I saw someone sitting in the audience who had hosted one of the readings of the play. We raised $2,000 that night, I remember seeing the donations fly in. At that one reading, we had raised most of what it took to bail out Andrea.

Marlowe: I was also really struck with what Alé shared [Alé Pablos, a Mexican woman who grew up in Arizona, spent 43 days inside an ICE detention center earlier this year, after having previously spent two years inside the same prison. Pablos portrayed Nardeen, Aseel’s sister]. She resonated so much with both Aseel and Nardeen, as an activist who has been physically attacked by police, and as a woman struggling to create a family in these conditions with man-made borders.

Taylor: Alé’s case opened me up to how difficult it is for people to live where they want to live, and that has everything to do with this play. People decided that they have a right to be here more than you have a right to be here, and you have to move. That happens over and over, time and again in America.

Someone coming and saying, you don’t deserve to be here, we have things bigger than yours, we are going to move you, to slaughter you, to rape you, to kill you.

Formerly incarcerated mothers, organizers and activists at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., after performing a play highlighting Black-Palestinian solidarity on September 3, 2018. (Will Johnson)

Formerly incarcerated mothers, organizers and activists at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., after performing a play highlighting Black-Palestinian solidarity on September 3, 2018. (Will Johnson)

Marlowe: Is this the kind of art you want to be creating?

Taylor: It’s difficult to feel gifted in this process in the same way as if it were a fictional story. Aseel’s story is something that’s very real. There’s so much grief and sorrow. But then there’s a gift to keeping Aseel alive through this storytelling, and that’s connected to how I feel about the beautiful performance at the Kennedy Center.

As glorious as it was, these women had to suffer for us to do this. If prison did not exist, if cages did not exist, I would not be making this type of theatre.

Taylor: What is your highest dream for this play?

Marlowe: I think we may have just achieved it. Knowing that Aseel’s words and story have been a part of bringing other people their freedom. The full-circle solidarity of the Mamas performing his story. Hearing Qiana say, “I am forever a part of Aseel’s living legacy.” I can’t imagine a higher purpose for this play.

What made the event unique: Black and Brown women directly impacted by incarceration led the performance. Even more unique: some of those women were bailed out due to funds raised through staged readings of the very same play. Here, the director and Gildapapoose founder, Je Naé Taylor, reflects on the process and performance with the playwright, Jen Marlowe.

Taylor: Why did you first write There is a Field?

Marlowe: Aseel was a friend of mine – he had been my camper in a peace organization that I was working for at the time. When he was murdered, I knew I had to do something to make sure that his life and how he was killed would be remembered. A few months after his killing, I asked his older sister Nardeen if she wanted to partner with me on writing a play, and that’s when we began.

Mon cher Ado/Rachelle. Part 24

Georges Bejani shared a post on FB

Avec Rarfoura, notre grand-mère, il y avait, ma chère Rachelle , sa fille Rose  (mere de Rachelle), jeune fille célibataire , et belle , et intelligente , et fougueuse, qui s’est occupé de moi quand j’ai débarqué à Beit-chabab, en 1952 à l’âge de deux ans .

En remplacement de ma mère restée en Guinée , j’ai eu droit à deux femmes merveilleuse .
Aujourd’hui , et tout au long de ma vie , j’ai gardé d’elles un doux souvenir .

Elles m’ ont comblé de leur affection sans que jamais je n’eus à souffrir d’une peine enfantine…
Que de beaux souvenirs !

Le soir , avant de m’endormir , Farfoura me fredonnait de belles berceuses de sa voix chevrotante.
Pour le reste , tante Rose m’accordait toute son attention .

Je ne me souviens pas d’avoir été une seule fois réprimé par l’une ou l’autre de ces douceurs que la vie m’a offertes …

Ma grand-mère qui prenait de l’âge s’adonnait au travail dans la mesure de ses moyens , tandis que ma tante Rose, elle volait avec fougue à sa tâche , tenant le taureau par les cornes .

Quand , vers la fin de sa vie , je lui rendais visite, j’étais triste de voir ma tante infirme assise sur son canapé , devant la fenêtre à regarder les passants qui lui adressaient le bonjour amical .

Elle avait cependant gardé son beau sourire , ce sourire clair et pur que j’ai connu bien des années auparavant …

Tidbits and notes posted on FB and Twitter. Part 245

Note: I take notes of books I read and comment on events and edit sentences that fit my style. I pay attention to researched documentaries and serious links I receive. The page of backlog opinions and events is long and growing like crazy, and the sections I post contains a month-old events that are worth refreshing your memory

The more I observe the “real” world, the more I force myself to live in a parallel world to have more control over it: I call this process “cornering myself”, trying to get detached

Is there a major difference between la theorie du complot and celle du piege? Quand on piege une personne Haut Place’ on connait ses tentations passionelles. On doit etre dans une trame complotiste. Fake news is another means to bring the person into the trap.

Those in high positions (regardless of public or private institutions) invest far more time and energy on preserving their position than on performing their assigned function. No surprise that there are no smooth and predictable good functioning in any department. The higher up are frequently setting traps to potential good candidates in order to retain or get promoted.

Until we figure out an alternative to the hierarchical system in the administration of any institute, like putting on trial the one in a total position of Control, meaning the highest in the pyramid of control, basically, he has to be decommissioned.

The alternative system for a more performing administration, people focusing more on their Function (task) than on investing time and energy on maintaining their power status, then the higher up must have less control than the one next below in the hierarchy.

Obviously it is Not reasonable to give a new comer to a system vast control before he gets acquainted with the process and procedures. Thus, the critical problem is to assign the level in the hierarchy where “the higher up the less control” kicks in.

In my mind, when I read “investing in the Future” for higher profit, it means accessing government and military “loans guarantees” for the “private” investors. No matter what is the result of the balance sheet, investors cannot lose.

Something is wrong with the Western colonial power multinational media. They will cover the car accident in Germany that crushed into a crowd (20 injured and 3 killed) for weeks. But the 1,100 Palestinians injured in one day by Israel snipers live bullets is covered Once for a few minutes, if ever mentioned.

The current Demi-Gods wrapped in old ropes. The likes of billionaires bosses Sergey Brin (co-founder of Google), Peter Thief (Paypal), Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook),  Elon Musk (SpaceX and Tesla), Besos (Amazon )… are seen by common people as demi-gods when they express their opinions on ethics and moral values.

Sort of comparing the culture of these bosses with the old ropes in philosophy and acquired myths and traditions. Fact is, these bosses are more concerned with discovering schemes to avoid fiscal laws and taxes. They are frequently worried how to restrain the frequency and costly liabilities and litigation

Are the terms “depressed” linked to the past, “anxious” to the future and “at peace” to the present? How can anyone be in the present when the past and the future are starring us in the eyes?

Chewing gum provides a brief brain boost for 20 min? Due to “mastication-induced arousal,”

Is it a dilemma when many factors come into play? Since 2009, the once-$4 billion gum industry has seen steadily declining sales: Between 2012 and 2017, retail volume sales of gum in the US fell by 13%, and are expected to continue to decline, according to market research provider Euromonitor International. Who’s to blame?

The culprits are many: we know that sugar is bad for our teeth, but we also don’t trust artificial sweeteners; we don’t smoke as much; and the occasion of bored impulse buys in the checkout line has been all but erased by the tech trifecta of e-commerce, the self-serve kiosk, and the smartphone.

Before 2013, crimes against humanity in Syria could be attributed to the regime in Damascus: Bashar Assad was tacitly in full control in the power structure. How many States and leaders joined in the rank and files for crimes against humanity in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, Afghanistan, Pakistan…

After 2013, the colonial powers were linked to the infiltration of the extremist terrorist Islamic factions. When a leader is “cornered” and besieged by an international coalition to depose him, he cannot be blamed for activities that set him back in control. Consequently, the colonial leaders, the Saudi Kingdom and Gulf Emirate who funded these terrorist factions, and Turkey of Erdogan who controlled the main accesses inside Syria…are also culprits in these crimes and must stand trial alongside Al Assad.




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