“Raise the flags for freedom,” says rapper Sacramento Knoxx

For a long time, there has been a strong sense of solidarity between the Palestinians and the indigenous peoples of North America. The late activist Russell Means explained the connection in simple, but potent, terms in 2009: “Every policy, the Palestinians are now enduring was practiced on the American Indian. What the American Indian movement says is that the American Indians are the Palestinians of the United States and the Palestinians are the American Indians of the Middle East.” 

If Israel’s project is a colonial-settler one (and it is), then the systematic genocide and displacement America and Canada have exacted upon their indigenous populations provide a disturbing parallel.

Sacramento Knoxx looks to emphasize this connection in his most recent video The Trees Will Grow Again. The Detroit-based artist, born Christopher Yepez, identifies himself as “an Ojibwe/Anishinaabe and Xicano emcee, music producer, motion picture artist, digital media artist and community cultural worker.” The bold graphics at the beginning of the video — “Turtle Island 2 Palestine,” “indigenous solidarity,” the highlighting of the world “colonization” in the factoid regarding aid to Israel — make the statement as clear as possible. (Turtle Island is the name by which North America is known to many indigenous peoples.)

Knoxx said recently that he was seeking to build “solidarity with Palestine through cultural work”; his video supports the Palestinian-led movement for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel. He also argued that a “joint struggle” is needed against ecological destruction. Towards the end, his video highlights how the oppression of the Palestinians is directly related to the militarization of US police, many of whom have been trained by Israel.

That was certainly a prescient way to end the video, given the images of police brutality that have emerged from Ferguson, Missouri since the song’s release. It’s appropriate then (in a way that’s almost eerie) that the video also includes footage of the new mural in Oakland dedicated to Palestine by the famed Black Panter artist Emory Douglas, as well as posters in support of the Palestinian-American community leader Rasmea Odeh.  

The sense of all the struggles being interconnected is rather unmistakable here.


Alexander Billet

Alexander Billet's picture

Alexander Billet is a music journalist and solidarity activist based in Chicago. He is on the editorial board of Red Wedge magazine, and his articles have also appeared in The Electronic Intifada, Jacobin, TheNation.com, New Politics and other publications. He is one of the founding members of Punks Against Apartheid, who successfully campaigned in the summer of 2011 for the Dead Kennedys’ Jello Biafra to cancel his concert in Tel Aviv.

A full collection of his articles can be found at his website Rebel Frequencies, and he can be reached at rebelfrequencies@gmail.com.