The following piece is an opinion and does not reflect the views of The Eagle and its staff. All opinions are edited for grammar, style and argument structure and fact-checked, but the opinions are the writer’s own.
Students gathered en masse on the American University quad on Nov. 1, to demand that the University administration support the Palestinian people in their plight and the end of mass killing of innocent people. On Nov. 6, The Eagle was fundamentally wrong on all levels to give the appearance that I supported the protest and that statement of hate. I appreciate The Eagle correcting the article after the fact; however, I feel it is necessary to share exactly where I stand so there is no room for ambiguity:
I stand with the Jewish people and innocent Palestinians, and I am vehemently against Hamas, which is a globally recognized terrorist organization.
What is most unfortunate about the article is that it took both an unobjective and very slanted position as to the events that took place that day because, as a Black man, I was also at the event in the periphery. Many times, as a Black person, I know what it is like to be treated like the “Invisible Man,” a book by Ralph Ellison from 1952, where Black people are neither seen nor heard; and many times, that is a frustrating and hopeless feeling.
The statement “From the river to sea, Palestine will be free” is not exactly a term of endearment. To many Jewish people, it is considered both a pejorative and a term of hate, akin to how many Black people in the United States view the Confederate flag as a symbol of hate. I listened intently to all of the protestors during the walkout on Nov. 1, and I heard, on more than one occasion, the chant of the “River to the sea,” which is a chant of HATE. As much as I detest the Confederate flag and all of its symbolism of hate and murder of Black people, I equally abhor the chant “From the river to the sea” because it is a call of hate and for the elimination of the Jewish people.
The original charter governing the terrorist organization known as Hamas called for the elimination of ALL Jewish people around the globe, which is highly problematic. So when we hear fellow AU students use rhetoric calling for the elimination of Jewish people, telling Israelis that they are not even “real people,” — as was captured on video on campus — this type of rhetoric sounds familiar.
The reason it sounds familiar is that it was the rhetoric used toward Black Americans during the Jim Crow era, when many white supremacists said that Black people were not even humans. In fact, Black people were called and compared to simians (monkeys, apes, beasts). Even more destructive during Jim Crow, hundreds of thousands of Black people were killed, lynched and also called to be eliminated. So, the rhetoric being used by many students on this campus calling for this elimination is in good company. It uses the same rhetoric of white supremacy. And for me, that is a bridge and a mission that goes too far.
I stand firm in my convictions to support my Jewish sisters and brothers and stand against every form of hate presented on this campus. It is not lost on me that many of those same folks probably would not mind eliminating Black students on this campus, either. We must become one AU again; we must love one another again.
Armando Grundy-Gomes is a graduate student in the School of Public Affairs, through the Key Executive Leadership Program. He is also a veteran of the United States Army.
This article was edited by Jelinda Montes, Alexis Bernstein and Abigail Pritchard. Copy editing done by Isabelle Kravis.