Grammy-nominated Chicago hip-hop artist Vic Mensa has just released a new track with a video highlighting connections between Palestinian, Black and Native American struggles for liberation and self-determination.
The video for “We Could Be Free” (feat. Ty Dolla $ign) shows powerful – and sometimes graphic images – of Israeli military violence against Palestinians; protests in Ferguson and at Standing Rock and confrontations between neo-Nazis and anti-fascists in Charlottesville.
Mensa visited Palestine in August where he shot some scenes.
“I wanted to make a video to show solidarity with people struggling against oppression all over the world,” Mensa told the website AllHipHop.
“I took scenes from the military occupation of a village I visited in Palestine and juxtaposed them with racial violence in America to show how similar our struggles are and imagine a world without division,” he added.
Mensa had previously spoken out about the commonalities of liberation struggles.
In late 2016 he went to the Standing Rock protests in solidarity with the Sioux Tribe’s resistance to the US government’s installation of an oil pipeline on their land.
Mic asked Mensa why he appeared in photos he posted on social media in the traditional checkered headscarf worn by many Palestinians.
“The kuffiyeh is a Palestinian garment. I think that what’s being done to Palestine by Israel is also one of the worst human rights violations on the planet right now,” Mensa replied.
“I think it’s the job of all oppressed people to support other oppressed people,” he added. “So what Israel is doing in Palestine – not recognizing their land and their state and continuously settling into their land – is similar to what the United States is doing here to the Native people.”
Mensa also emphasized the historical and political role of hip hop.
“I think it’s important for people to recognize that hip-hop is born out of the Black struggle and the experience of Latino Americans,” he said. “It’s important that we in the hip-hop community recognize that same struggle holds so many parallels to [the struggles of] the Native American people.”
Watch “We could be free” above.