[Marxism] Checkpoint: one to spread for the struggle

michael a. lebowitz mlebowit at sfu.ca
Sat Feb 1 09:10:02 MST 2014

Powerful Shit--- read it and then see the video!
jasiri x: Why I Wrote the Song "Checkpoint" and Exposed the Apartheid I 
Witnessed in Palestine 

    *Black Youth Project January 29, 2014*
    Why I Wrote the Song "Checkpoint" and Exposed the Apartheid I
    Witnessed in

    *By jasiri x <http://www.blackyouthproject.com/author/jasiri-x>*

    *Israeli soldiers checking my passport at a checkpoint in Hebron *

    *Checkpoint video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dq6Y6LSjulU

    I honestly had no intention on writing a song based on the trip I
    took to
    Palestine and Israel recently as part of a delegation of
    activists and artists, sponsored by the Carter Center. I'm still
    having a
    difficult time processing what I witnessed. I spent much of the trip
    to get my head around how one group of human beings could be so
    inhumane to
    another group of human beings. I still can't understand. By day 4 of
    our 7
    day trip I wanted to come home. The mental intensity of what I
    the brutality of the stories
    I heard
    taken a toll on me to the point where I had

    In one of the few light moments of the trip writer and filmmaker Dream
    Hampton joked that I would have a song and video out a few days after we
    landed in the United States, because I'm known for doing topical
    videos in
    a short period of time. I remember laughing and telling her my only plan
    when I got home was to rest, but Dream got the last laugh. Her
    actually caused me to think, if I did a song what would it sound
    like and
    how would the video look? And, although I had taken hundreds of
    the only places I recorded video were the checkpoints.

    We as a group decided to walk through the infamous Qalandia checkpoint
    because our guide, who was Palestinian, could not ride through the
    checkpoint with us. Even though she had a permit and a passport, because
    she was Palestinian, she had to walk through the checkpoint on foot. I
    decided to record this journey, not because I had the idea to shoot a
    video, but because of the ridiculous amount of Israeli soldiers with
    machine guns surrounding the checkpoint. Being a victim of Stop and
    in places like New York City, I have gotten in the habit of
    videotaping any
    encounter with those in "authority" when I think there could be
    danger . In
    this particular situation, I thought it was best for the safety of our
    guide and our delegation.

    When we were stopped at a checkpoint in Hebron, I began recording again,
    and I also was recording when armed Israeli soldiers boarded our van to
    check everyones passport and visa. Realizing the checkpoint footage
    was the
    only video I had, I started to conceptualize the song "Checkpoint".
    I felt
    like checkpoint really summed up the apartheid conditions I witnessed in
    Palestine. That's why the first line of the song I wrote was, "If Martin
    Luther King had a dream of the checkpoint, he'd wake with loud
    screams from
    the scenes at the checkpoint". I truly believe if Dr. King was alive and
    saw the discrimination and oppression we saw, he would breakdown and

    At that point all that was left for me to do was find a beat that
    the emotional intensity of walking through a prison like checkpoint
    by heavily armed soldiers. Thankfully, I had a beat from Agent of
    who is producing the album I'm currently working on called P.O.W.E.R.
    (People Oppressed Will Eventually Rise).

    Looking back on the trip, I'm thankful I was able to go and see the
    occupation of Palestine firsthand. I thought I knew what was going
    on, but
    I had no idea. I believe everyone who is able to should go and see for
    themselves the colonialism our tax dollars are funding. I remain
    by the resistance of the Israeli, Palestinian, and African organizers we
    met. I hope my song and video helps contribute to the growing movement
    of Boycotts,
    Divestment, and Sanctions <http://www.bdsmovement.net/> against Israel.
    When asked about my trip on Twitter I responded, the people are
    but their reality is heartbreaking. The truth must be told.
    *Video: **In Levinsky Park http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nB287v66QFk
    <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nB287v66QFk> (subtitled)*

Michael A. Lebowitz
Professor Emeritus
Economics Department
Simon Fraser University
8888 University Drive
Burnaby, B.C., Canada V5A 1S6
Home:   Phone 604-689-9510
Cell: 604-789-4803

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