A Look into Afro-Palestinians
Afro-Palestinians make up a small percentage of the Palestinian population, but have regards to an astounding history. Mainly concentrated in Jerusalem, most current Afro-Palestinians made the trek over during the British Mandate of Palestine as religious pilgrims and stuck around. The largest population of Afro-Palestinians sit in a neighborhood located in old Jerusalem referred to as “Little Harlem” or “The African Quarter”.
The African Quarter is circled in RED.
There are anywhere between 350-450 Afro-Palestinians in this neighborhood, all of whom are descendants from the 50 families that came during the British Mandate. How these Afro-Palestinians were able to live at the site of the Holy Al Aqsa Mosque is a story of power and strength in and of itself.
The neighborhood is situated in between two “Israeli” checkpoints. Foot traffic is little for shop owners, traveling outside is difficult for those who reside within, and racist “Israeli” guards keep a close eye on everybody living there. Many of the Afro-Palestinians have been detained (in one way or another) by “Israeli” forces and have fought for the freedom of Palestine since the beginning. During the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, a great percentage worked as guards for the Holy grounds. In modern times, the police see them as “a bad group” and keep close watch on their comings and goings (ring any bells?). When it comes to Palestinians, “Israel” is hyper-vigilant. From what we have seen in the past and present, the same can be said with many countries and how they treat their Black citizens. Afro-Palestinians then have to be extra careful every time they want to leave their homes.
Solidarity from our Afro-Palestinian community in فلسطين with the Black struggle in the US ✊🏿 pic.twitter.com/FVYs3GqOLQ— K.Diallo ☭ (@nyeusi_waasi) June 17, 2020
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Also important; racism within the Arab community as a whole. It is not wise to talk about one side of the racism Afro-Palestinians face and not mention the other. Arabs are notoriously prejudiced in history. Medieval Arab text revealed that people were separated based on color; white (arabs), red (europeans), and black (africans). Sedimenting a class system based on color. Black people were subjugated to slavery and servitude. To this day the term “abeed” is used to refer to a Black person, the word translates to slave. It carries a similar connotation to the n-word but is used very casually in the Arab world. All that is said to bring light to the Afro-Palestinian community. A community that started when a few Black men made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem and took it upon themselves to help defend the holy land and help the Arab community that was currently residing there. They became one with the people and help defend Palestine to this day, carrying a risk one can only imagine.