What if we declared ourselves perpetual refugees in solidarity with all refugees needing safe human harbor from violence and domination and injustice and inequality? …We are all refugees horribly displaced from a benign and welcoming community. And the question is: Can we soon enough create the asylum our lives will certainly wither without?
—June Jordan, “We Are All Refugees”
At the height of the Second Intifada (also known as the Al-Aqsa Intifada) which began in September 2000, a 23 year-old white American student from Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, arrived in Gaza to initiate a sister-cities project between Olympia and Rafah, a city in southern Gaza where the vast majority of the population is comprised of Palestinian refugees. As an active volunteer for the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), a nonviolent organization dedicated to the Palestinian cause, she was particularly engaged in protests against the demolition of Palestinian homes by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). It was during one of these protests, on March 16, 2003, less than two months after her arrival, that Rachel Corrie was murdered—run over twice, crushed to death by an IDF armored bulldozer on its way to demolish another Palestinian home.
Three days after Rachel Corrie’s murder, Palestinian American social activist Suheir Hammad’s poem “On the Brink of…” was circulated on the internet. Frustrated by the violence against Palestinians in general, and against Rachel Corrie in particular, Hammad writes, “the murder of this white/girl from Olympia Washington has/my heart breaking and my blood faint./Something like ten Palestinians have been killed since/yesterday, when a Caterpillar bulldozer driven/by a man demolished the home that was her body.” While the conflation of home and body is a significant motif that appears throughout Hammad’s work, that conflation becomes especially complicated in the case of Rachel Corrie who, despite the “privilege” (to use Corrie’s own words) of her race and nationality, was considered Palestinian in the weeks leading up to, and the months and years following, the tragedy. Not only did Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat proclaim her a “daughter of Palestine,” even naming a street in the West Bank city of Ramallah after her, but in her journals Corrie had professed her love for the Palestinian people and had identified herself with them, as did the people of Rafah who spray-painted “Rachel has Palestinian blood” across city walls after her murder. And, in response to the vehement criticism of Corrie’s active solidarity with the Palestinian people, Evergreen professor Therese Saliba remembers her futile attempt to comfort a troubled colleague by explaining that Corrie had “‘become Palestinian, and she will be attacked in the same way the Palestinians have always been attacked and their struggle discredited. She will be called a terrorist or a terrorist sympathizer.’”
Saliba’s sentiment that Corrie had “become Palestinian” borrows from the Caribbean American poet June Jordan’s “Moving Towards Home,” published in 1985 in response to the 1982 massacres at Sabra and Shatila, in which Jordan proclaims: “I was born a Black woman/and now/I am become Palestinian/against the relentless laughter of evil/…/It is time to make our way home.”, This concept that Jordan lyrically explores—of being “born” a certain identity and “becoming” another by way of establishing solidarities built on an inclusive morality, shared social ethics, mutual respect, and shared experiences with (or shared understandings of) human struggle—was exemplified and embodied by Rachel Corrie, whose “born” identity as a white American woman was complicated and expanded, even transformed, by her love for the Palestinian people and her fight for justice on their behalf (both of which would ultimately cost her her life). It is Jordan’s powerful declaration of being (re)born a Black Palestinian woman that would not only inspire Hammad’s debut poetry collection, Born Palestinian, Born Black (first published in 1996, expanded and reissued in 2010), but would also become both a persistent concern and a consistent theme throughout much if not all of Hammad’s works. In her poetry, Hammad negates and negotiates varying identities in order to engage with and connect the various struggles of (primarily, though not exclusively, colored) peoples across the world. For Hammad, such identification is facilitated through a global (and globalized) sense of self coupled with collective self-love, in which we identify ourselves within others (and them within us) in order to form a global alliance based on shared affective love. Thus, by resituating her own difference within that of various marginalized communities in the U.S. and abroad, Hammad’s poetry redefines individual identity as a cultural collective built upon a solidarity of shared marginalization in the face of global oppressions, through which “patriotism” transcends nation, and the love of self is (re)located in—and conflated with—a universal love for others.
Universal patriotism (particularly in Hammad’s poetry) is synonymous with what Kwame Anthony Appiah interchangeably calls “global citizenship” or “cosmopolitan patriotism.” This way of seeing, living, and being in the world is founded on the sentiment that if the whole universe is our “home,” then as “citizens” we have a responsibility to nurture it—to concern ourselves with the cultures and politics of all parts of our “home,” which just so happens to be the “home” of others as well. For Appiah, difference does not undermine, threaten, nor conflict with this all-embracing conception of home; rather, difference is a part of “home” and is precisely what makes “home” both tangible and malleable. And because home is figured (as it most often is) within kinship and country, cosmopolitan patriots can be considered “true patriots” because they “hold the state and the community within which they live to certain [moral] standards,” understanding that while “it is all very well to argue for, fight for, liberalism in one country—your own,” it is even more imperative to extend that fight to include those outside of our countries and selves, since our very own rights “matter as human rights … only if the rights of foreign humans matter, too.” Thus Appiah not only reconciles traditional views of patriotism with his philosophy of cosmopolitanism, but also expands the definition of patriotism beyond national borders, thereby enabling it to accommodate a changing world and worldview. Although the essence of patriotism has long been argued to consist of “the responsibilities as well as the privileges of citizenship,” Appiah argues that patriotism is more importantly a feeling of connection:
Patriotism is about what the nineteenth-century Liberian scholar-diplomat Edward Blyden once so memorably called “the poetry of politics,” which is the feeling of “people with whom we are connected.” It is the connection and the sentiment that matter, and there is no reason to suppose that everybody in this complex, ever-mutating world will find their affinities and their passions focused on a single place.
Since we are all connected, so to speak, and especially since that connection is not a single, mutually exclusive stream flowing to and from a single place, then there is no reason that cosmopolitanism and patriotism cannot be merged into a collective vision for the betterment of humanity: “We cosmopolitans can be patriots, loving our homelands (not only the states where we were born but the states where we grew up and the states where we live); our loyalty to humankind—so vast, so abstract, a unity—does not deprive us of the capacity to care for lives nearer by.” Rather than conflict, these loyalties to “lives nearer by” and to all of humankind appear to be interrelated, mirroring the interrelatedness of peoples across the world while working towards bridging the gaps between “here” and “there,” “us” and “them,” “our” struggles and dreams and “their” struggles and dreams.
The construction of such bridges among peoples and across cultures is precisely what concerns Hammad, and to which her poetry is intensely committed. Her literary gesturing towards universal self-identification is often connected with an affirmation of collective marginalization, demonstrated here for instance by her contemplation of the “many usages of the word ‘Black’”:
- Black like the coal diamonds are birthed from
- like the dark matter of the universe
- like the Black September massacre of Palestinians
- the Arabic expression “to blacken your face”
- meaning to shame.
- Black like the opposite of white
- the other
- Indians in England, Africans in America,
- Algerians in France and Palestinians in Israel
- the shvartza labor of cleaning toilets and
- picking garbage
- Black like the genius of Stevie, Zora and Abdel-Haleem
- relative purity
- like the face of God
- the face of your grandmother
The first group of usages signifies the negative connotations of “blackness”: the blackness of coal that “births” precious gems but is not a precious gem itself; the all-encompassing, sublime blackness of the unknown or the unfamiliar (“dark matter of the universe”); the blackness of death (“Black September,” which refers to the events of September 1970, in which King Hussein of Jordan unleashed a brutal military campaign against the Palestine Liberation Organization based in Amman, resulting in the slaughter of thousands of Palestinians); and the idiomatic blackness of shame. The second group places blackness within a racial context and furthermore connects “blacks” (here a metonym for marginalized peoples) and black struggles across the world, from the U.S., to Europe, to Israel. It is not until the final category that Hammad reclaims blackness, and posits it in an alternative way that is righteous and sacred (the “relative purity” of blackness); constructive and inspiring, associated with creation instead of death (referring not only to the face of the Creator, but also to the artistic “genius” of black “creators,” such as Stevie Wonder, Zora Neale Hurston, and the influential Egyptian singer from the 1950’s and 60’s, Abdel-Haleem Hafez); and deeply personal and relational (the black “face of your grandmother”). Hammad’s second and third definitions of blackness as both connective and empowering are a significant theme in her writings, and lay the groundwork for much of her poetry.
Collectively, Hammad’s poems explore the concepts (or, rather, the acts) of both self-definition and the continual redefinition of that self. As the poet herself makes clear, “we need to own our definitions and live by them. We need not be afraid to adapt or change them when necessary. Borders are manmade, and I refuse to respect them unless I have a say in their formation.” These manmade borders—between persons, peoples, nations, cultures, movements—are precisely what Hammad undermines and transcends with the formal and thematic diversity of her poetic voice, as Siréne Harb notes:
Hammad exploits the flexible potential of borders and stresses the significance of discovering embryonic entities. Such entities allow her to reorganize cultural practices so as to creatively juggle/redefine cultural, linguistic, and stylistic norms. For this poet, thus, the construction of identity depends on acts of adaptation and appropriation … shaping ways in which she situates herself in discursive spaces and negotiates the heterogeneousness of narrative, social and historical borders.
Hammad’s “acts of adaptation and appropriation” and the “heterogeneousness of narrative, social and historical borders” are readily apparent in the poem “taxi,” in which Hammad connects the plight of the people in the Palestinian Territories with that of African Americans in the U.S. Separated into three sections, the first section, addressed to the self-proclaimed “urban warrior” and “street soldier,” trivializes and scolds the ghetto mentality for which Salman Rushdie offers one of the better, more succinct definitions: “The adoption of a ghetto mentality [is] to forget that there is world beyond the community to which we belong, to confine ourselves within narrowly defined cultural frontiers.” Hammad’s criticism of those in the African American community whose understanding of struggle is limited to “not gettin taxis and little white ladies/claspin purses” necessitates a definitional expansion of “struggle” in all its forms and faces, and what it means for marginalized peoples in other parts of world, particularly in the Territories.
This is precisely the subject of the second section, in which Hammad recounts the nightmarish reality of “refugee camps that make you long for/the projects …/this aint no/boy scout trip this is the real deal hell/on earth what it’s about.” It is not until the third section that Hammad connects both worlds, both realities, in her call for a more all-encompassing understanding of struggle from which transnational solidarity can be built:
- conscious comrade
- there’s a place uglier than uptown’s slum
- where the people are just as beautiful
- strugglin sister
- there’s a debke beat funky as p.e.’s riff
- signalin revolution liberation and freedom
- so when we’re vibin on the pale
- evil of welfare and crack know i’m
- across the street and across the sea so when
- we’re combatin cops and prisons know there are prisons
- like ansar iii nazis wouldn’t touch pigs wouldn’t visit
- so when we read baraka and listen to malcolm
- let’s read darwish and keep on
- listenin to malcolm
- so when you call me sista
- ask after our family
- this shit is about more
- it’s bigger than
- our hoods and our heads
- it aint all about this poem
- and it aint all about
- and little white women
Here, the urban warrior/street soldier has been replaced by “conscious comrade” and “strugglin sister” as Hammad urges the African American community to extend its own struggle to include that of Palestinians on the other side of the world, who similarly struggle against poverty and crimes of the State, denoted by the “pale evil of welfare” and “cops and prisons.” She associates Palestinian Debke with one of the most influential American hip-hop groups, Public Enemy, to bridge the gap between one black pride revolution and another. Hammad’s imperative, that “when you call me sista/ask after our family” serves to remind us, as Michelle Hartman notes, that “merely local or parochial concerns of one community cannot be the main or only focus of social change. Developing an expanded sense of community must be more than simply calling someone ‘sister’ but show a deeper level of respect by asking about the larger family and community to which this person is tied.” Thus, when Hammad proposes that “when we read baraka and listen to malcolm/let’s read darwish and keep on/listenin to malcolm,” she is gesturing towards and broadening a collective sense of responsibility, for “closed universities and open prisons/curfews and house demolitions/…/…the faces of mournin mothers/losin more sons to american tax dollars” that fund the Israeli military (directly) responsible for such destruction of human life and livelihood. In this way, the references to Amiri Baraka, Malcolm X, and Mahmoud Darwish, like those to Debke and Public Enemy, serve “to bridge, through the juggling of a number of cultural notions, different types of struggle for social justice.” As Carol Fadda-Conrey explains, the positioning of diverse cultural and creative icons in Hammad’s work, evidenced by poems like “taxi,” is a reflection of the poet’s own diverse origins:
[Hammad’s] poetry mirrors the intermixture of influences in Hammad’s life, including Palestinian displacement, connections to African American and Puerto Rican cultures that Hammad was exposed to while growing up in Brooklyn, and the various forms of violence she has experienced and been a witness to, manifested, for example, through the Arab-Israeli conflict, as well as through the harsh circumstances surrounding urban youth culture in New York and the disenfranchisement of peoples of color all around the world.
Hammad’s linking of peoples across the world via their struggles against oppression and marginalization foreground what Chela Sandoval and Keith Feldman call, respectively, “oppositional consciousness” and “interracial insurgency,” both of which are explicitly at work in Hammad’s poetry in general and in “taxi” in particular, where Hammad actively attempts to instill a camaraderie—a global patriotism—constructed from a fragmented sense of self that is located in multiple places, at multiple times, amongst multiple peoples.
It is precisely this collective sense of self that will enable both the individual and the group(s) to which she belongs to transcend nationality and reach beyond skin color in order to combat social injustices and sufferings from one end of the globe to the other, as Feldman similarly argues:
If one is to incorporate the multiple fractures of identity politics into the composition of self, then one must also address the political concerns of those individuals living beyond the political borders of the United States from whence the cultural elements have originated, the multiple heritages that have imbued the urban site with its complex of cultural forms. In this way, [Hammad] links ghetto with ghetto and forwards a political act both across the street of the urban metropolis and across the sea in the material locale of her national heritage.
Because the “self” is composed of multiple fragments both within and without, to identify the “self” with others (or as “other”) necessarily aligns the concerns of that self with those outside of it. For Hammad, it is (and paradoxically so) human difference which connects and empowers us, as Trinh Minh-ha had profoundly asserted in her seminal essay exploring the interlocking identities of postcolonial women: “Otherness becomes empowerment, critical difference when it is not given but recreated.” Embodying otherness as a way of being and employing difference as a means of realizing that “political and social commitment to justice depends on a broader vision of home/self” comprises Hammad’s poetic vision of the universal patriot, enlisted in a collective battle against various injustices and oppressions that, despite specificity (of geographic location, of oppressive authority, of victimization) affects us all. As Hammad reminds us, “to find ourselves we hold up a mirror to the worlds we all inhabit,” and it is these worlds with which we relate and for which we fight.
The poem “manifest destiny” not only exemplifies the broader (re)vision of home/self, but also the connective potential of multiplying identities and the power of difference that unifies diversity. In an interview by Marcy Jane Knopf-Newman, Hammad speaks of her multiple identities and identifications, shaped by her immigrant experience and her father’s insistence on her “difference”:
“I didn’t grow up Arab American—what the fuck is Arab American? I grew up Palestinian and Brooklyn, really specifically. And my father’s like you’re not this, you’re not that. And then I’d meet other Palestinians and he’d be like, yeah, but you’re not like them either. You know, because it was a very specific immigrant experience at a very specific time, and I didn’t relate to the problems that were being written about. I didn’t have a half-white parent or a white parent. I didn’t have the sense of cultural clash in my body. I had it outside of my body. In my body I felt like, I look like everyone else I grew up with—whether they were Puerto Rican or Italian or light-skinned black people.”
The self-described similarity of Hammad’s physical appearance to the “Puerto Rican or Italian or light-skinned black people” with whom she grew up complicates notions of race as it relates to Arab and Arab Americans. But rather than pose an obstacle, for Hammad this complication provides the perfect site for negotiating, adapting, and appropriating both individual and socio-cultural identities. This is especially evident in “manifest destiny,” in which an intimate dinner scene with a group of friends sets the stage for Hammad’s exploration of interior and exteriors, as they relate to questions of identity, cultural expectation, and poetry. The poem begins with a collective “we four/sitting nursing/plates of rice and beans in a Cuban diner/we all should have been other people/with other people.” The imperative “should” suggests that such a gathering, at least from the outside, is far from typical, and it is this unlikely friendship among a diverse group of people sharing a meal which undermines the alleged tension between outer and inner, between what should be and what is. The individual descriptions of each person begin with who she may appear to be, and who she actually is: “one/who should’ve been a neo-nazi aryan baby breeder/a machete wielding man-hating dyke/was a lover of both men and women girl of riot and a poet” while “another/who should’ve been a witness of jehovah knocking down doors/or a gyrating video hoochie/was a scholar of african glory lover of knowledge and a poet.” The repetition of “and a poet” ending each description functions to reinforce not only the common ground uniting them all, despite (or, perhaps, because of) their differences, but also the power of poetry to unite people across borders and barriers.
Hammad ends the poem with an affirmation of not only how outer appearances run counter to inner selves (which, in turn, run counter to cultural expectations), but also of how feelings of loss can be a connective force, on a level that is personal and intimate: “missing my family/who couldn’t understand/we four all missing family who wouldn’t understand/creating a family/we struggling to understand/we were where we needed to be/we are who we have to be.” As Feldman notes:
The family unit is renarrated here to contend with the notion of family as the social receptacle of an identity based on genetic descent; rather, it is reconceived in the scene of cultural and political exchange. Heritage is a component of identity here that becomes malleable and contingent on the social construction of wider community, a community situated, in this case, within a transnational urban setting.
For Hammad, this type of unity and community is essential—foundational—to establishing a collective self-identity based on her configuration of home and self, and the conflation of that home/self with other homes/selves, from which a “transnational mobilization of diasporic communities in ghettoized spaces” is made possible. Hammad’s transnational autobiographical identification, which “plac[es] the autobiographical self in solidarity with a network of diasporic populations,” becomes a sociopolitical outlet through which traditional, essentialist, or isolationist understandings of identity are undermined and replaced by a more inclusive, transnational, trans-racial redefinition of home/self. To return to Feldman’s reading of Hammad’s poem:
Hammad locates home in the production of a future through manifold resources of a culture forged in a transnational context and through transnational solidarities. As a community surviving displacement, exile, and diaspora, as Palestinian, as Arab, as Arab American, as a community forged through material, political, and cultural connections with others who survive the material effects of the diaspora, Hammad locates the potentiality for the building of a new home in which members of those ‘othered’ communities—like herself—might speak their own life experiences….
Similarly, Harb argues that Hammad’s relocation of home and her re-situation of self within that home, in all its multiple locations, move towards a “universalism which acknowledges the importance of gendered and ethnic specificities, while at the same time stressing the commonalities and zones of intersection among different groups. As such, the universal is redefined as a form of political awareness of the workings of power and systems.” From this redefined universalism—and re-imagined universe—comes the formation of a collective self, comprised of multiple (and multiplying) identities, and the practice of love towards that self and the others in which it is located, enacted through (and even synonymous with) responsibility.
The association of love (of self and others) with personal and social responsibility is at the heart of Hammad’s (seemingly) romantic “we spent the fourth of july in bed.” Here, the act of lovemaking is interrupted by images of violence and thoughts of suffering—realities that invade and pervade even the most intimate moments, and that continuously haunt the poet/lover and pollute her memory. After an extensive and intensely morbid chronicle of various gruesome sufferings in the world, from the “exploding legs” of Iraqi girls and “ants crawl[ing] out of somali eyes” to the “puerto rican women” and “young philipinas” who “go blind constructing computer discs/poems like this are saved on,” the troubled poet/lover pauses for a moment as she returns to the lusty scene of the erotic encounter: “yeah the smell of suffer/lingers even now/lover as we lay/in amazement and/if baby as you say/my skin is the color of sun/warmed sand then you’re/my moonless night/and we the beach/wet and tidal all that/good shhhh wet.” This sensual serenity is then interrupted, once again, by images of violence, as the poet/lover’s mind returns to the global scenes of the crime:
- as we lay
- shrapnel awakens pain on
- an island of paraplegics
- courtesy of the 80s gun craze
- to our generation violence
- isn’t a phase it’s the day to day
- and though my head is filled
- with your sweetness now
- this same head knows
- nagasaki girls picked maggots out of stomach sores with chopsticks
- and hiroshima mothers rocked headless babies to sleep
- this head knows
- phalestini youth maimed absorbing rubber bullets
- homes demolished trees uprooted roots dispersed
The shift to and from the bedroom and the world outside, between the dreamlike sensuality of post-coital bliss and the nightmarish reality of human suffering, serves to bridge the spatial gaps between the “here” and the “there,” lending a sense of urgency to the poet/lover’s need to end these sufferings. Like in “first writing since,” written in the days following 9/11, Hammad urgently reminds us that the “there” is right here. Her internalization of the “outside world” connects the lovers to the world that is outside of them (at least physically, anyway) and for which they are responsible. Though at the heart of “first writing since,” the collapsing of spatio-temporal binaries and the active refusal to subscribe to the political (meaning imperial) binary of life or death—of “with us” or “against us”—through personal and social responsibility indeed has its roots in this haunting love poem. “‘It’s this idea that we are not responsible for those we push aside,’” that Hammad’s poetry contests, as the poet herself explains, “‘I do believe in accountability on an individual level, but that can only exist legitimately within societies where we hold each other accountable as well.’” Thus, the role of accountability not only bridges the gap between “here” and “there,” inside and outside, but also between self and other—between the individual and the social.
If human suffering is foreground by human intimacy, then individual and social accountability are foreground by human suffering. In “we spent the fourth of july in bed,” eroticism is offset by horror while the illusion of privacy, of the inner self / outer world binary, is shattered:
- this same head with
- all them love songs
- and husky whispers knows
- our moans come with a history
- deeper than our groins our
- groans marry a story older
- than this lust
- as we lay and love
- our touch is not free it comes with memories
- and the reality that even now
- food is a luxury
- viruses free
- we baby
- look into our brownness to
- see those who’ve gone without
- knowing this comfort of entangled legs
- foreheads of sweat heart beats of love and sex
- our sighs indeed heavy with
- history destiny cum and responsibility
- even now in this heat
- on this futon
- we are not alone
Here, love is not confined to romance, between a pair of lovers, in a room. Rather, the concept of love is broadened to include the whole world, all of humanity:
The boundaries of the marginalized collective are extended to encompass third world, predominantly female, victims of racial and imperial oppression. Here again, the connecting “we” supersedes the collective Arab American identity, linking the plights of Iraqi, Malaysian, Filipina, Puerto Rican, Yemeni, and Palestinian girls, women, and youth, as well as women from Nagasaki and Hiroshima, thus creating a solid unity out of their suffering, [that] unifies diversity.
If the self is a collective formation, then it necessarily follows that the love of self, and the responsibility that love entails, exceeds the individual and extends to the community and, even further, to the world. In this way, the intimate “sighs” of the lovers are “indeed heavy with/history…and responsibility” for that which is “outside” of them. Thus, Hammad revisits the inside(r) / outside(r) binary she began exploring in “manifest destiny,” as well as the here / there binary she had begun to challenge in “taxi,” and incorporates collective responsibility as the driving force behind Sandoval’s oppositional consciousness and Feldman’s interracial insurgency. It is useful here to return to Minh-ha’s essay about interlocking identities among marginalized peoples, particularly women, in which she also addresses difference and spatial binaries, arguing that “differences do not only exist between outsider and insider—two entities. They are also at work within the outsider herself or the insider, herself—a single entity. She who knows she cannot speak of them without speaking of herself, of history without involving her story, also knows that she cannot make a gesture without activating the to and fro movement of life.” As Hammad demonstrates in this poem, there can be no peace, not even in the privacy of one’s bedroom or home (or “self”), when the world is at war, with poverty, disease, injustice, violence, and other residual effects of imperialism: “even as we lay in/all this good feeling/people lay in dirt vomit shit and blood/and I gotta tell you/that my sincere love for real/is for my peeps my family humanity/love for real for real freedom/well fed human dignity for sisters and their lovers/…/there aint enough good feeling/to push the pain and awareness out.” It is fitting, then, that on the day of American Independence, the poet/lover realizes and asserts that the most patriotic thing to do is to celebrate interdependence, by setting out to correct the troubles of the world for which she is personally and socially responsible: “we gotta get up soon/come on now baby/we got work to do.”
Hammad demonstrates that universal patriotism, facilitated by universal love, begins with an awareness of pain as universal—a recognition that can link people to people, struggle to struggle, and “over here” to “over there.” This recalls Appiah’s imperative that it is also patriotic—cosmopolitically patriotic, that is—to concern ourselves with and defend the rights of others “over there” in addition to our own “right here”:
We should, in short, as cosmopolitans, defend the rights of others to live in democratic states, with rich possibilities of association within and across their borders; states of which they can be patriotic citizens. And, as cosmopolitans, we can claim that right for ourselves. … [T]he freedom to create oneself—the freedom that liberalism celebrates—requires a range of socially transmitted options from which to invent what we have come to call our identities … giv[ing] us a language in which to think about these identities and with which we may shape new ones.
Through the construction and contemplation of a multitude of identities, Hammad is able to subsequently engage in the linking of global struggles as reenacted in “letter to anthony (critical resistance),” in which Hammad connects the issue of prison reform in the United States to both the Palestinian struggle for legitimacy and justice and the global sex trade. In doing so, the poem lends itself to a contemplation of the concept of criminality as a residual effect of imperialism’s oppressive agendas, executed through economic exploitation of the poor (and often colored), the subjugation of women, and the suppression of “minority” voices. In the second section of the poem Hammad issues a confession, an admission of her own guilt: “i have always loved criminals/i tell people who try to shame/me into silence.” As the poem continues, the poet conflates the criminal with “10/years to go nowhere how much deeper/you going to get until a system based/on money deems you rehabilitated” with the Palestinians, deemed “criminals” by a system (Israel) built on their forced absence and perpetual incarceration in refugee camps:
- i have always loved
- criminals and not only the thugged
- out bravado of rap videos and champagne
- popping hustlers but my father
- born an arab boy
- on the forced way out
- of his homeland his mother exiled
- and pregnant gave birth in a camp
- the world pointed and said
- palestinians do not exist palestinians
- are roaches palestinians are two legged dogs
- and israel built jails and weapons and
- a history based on the absence of a people
- israel made itself holy and chosen
- and my existence a crime.
- so i have always loved criminals
- it is a love of self
- and i will not cut off any part of
- me and place it behind fences and bars
- and the fake ass belief
- that there is a difference between
- the inside and the outside
- there is no outside anywhere
- anymore just where we are and
- what we do while we are here
In “letter to anthony,” prison becomes a symbol of forced separation, the embodiment of the inside / outside, here / there binary erected and enforced by hegemonic power structures and their exclusionary politics. Hammad associates Anthony, the “criminal” sitting in an American prison and to whom she is writing, with her father and, by extension, her people: Palestinians whose very existence has been criminalized by Zionism’s agendas. Furthermore, she equates her love of criminals with a love of self—that is, her own “criminality,” namely her Palestinian heritage. Her refusal to abide by the “fake ass belief/that there is a difference between the inside and the outside,” and her conclusion that “there is no outside anywhere/anymore,” recalls her internalization of the external that was at the heart of the poem, “we spent the fourth of july in bed.” The poem’s ending is indeed a powerful affirmation of humanity—and the global patriot’s promise to continue to defend the rights of others everywhere—as well as a reassurance to Anthony in the American prison and to Nazim in the Palestinian refugee camp that there are people, like the poet herself, who erase the lines between inside and outside, bridge the gap between the here and the there.
This is essentially how Hammad connects struggle to struggle across the world and resists on behalf of those who are withheld and withdrawn by structures more powerful than they:
- and there
- are people anthony who make a connection
- between you puerto rican rhyme slayer beautiful man and
- young girls twisted into sex work and these
- people nazim they are working to stop prisons
- from being economically beneficial to depressed
- communities and these people
- bronx bomber they imagine a world
- where money can’t be made off the hurt
- of the young the poor the colored the
- sexualized the different
- they believe human
- beings can never be reduced
- to numbers not in concentration
- camps or reservations not in
- refugee camps not in schools
- and not in jails
- stay well
- and safe
- and love
In “letter to anthony,” Hammad attributes incarceration to invisibility, and invisibility to the hegemonic campaign against the coalitions of difference—like the ones Hammad is constructing in her poetry—that threaten that hegemony. As Minh-ha reminds us:
Difference remains within the boundary of that which distinguishes one identity from another. This means that at the heart X must be X, Y must be Y and X cannot be Y. Those running around yelling X is not Y and X can be Y, usually land in a hospital, a rehabilitation center, a concentration camp, or a reservation.
For Hammad, love, and the alliances born of love, serves not only to bridge disparate struggles and identities across many fronts, but also to connect the traumatic experiences that can otherwise isolate the individual and jeopardize the collective self-love meant to empower them. Collective self-love and the interracial insurgency it motivates (or necessitates, rather) is at the center of “open poem to those who rather we not read…or breathe.” Again, Hammad begins with a collective “we” and an affirmation of a shared interracial, presumably (though not exclusively) third world alliance: “we children of children exiled from homelands/descendants of immigrants denied jobs and toilets/carry continents in our eyes/survivors of the middle passage/we stand/and demand recognition of our humanity.” The opening of “open poem” testifies to “a collective past fraught with subjugation and discrimination (extending to the present)” and reaffirms that Hammad’s “own Palestinian history of exile cannot be disengaged from the larger history of imperialism and colonialism that scatter peoples across the world and sever them from their homelands, whether they are exiles, immigrants, or descendents of slave-trade victims.”
Thus Hammad reconceptualizes “third world,” broadening its scope to include the plights of those who are marginalized in the first world, corresponding to Chandra Talpade Mohanty’s de-limiting description of “third world” as being “defined through geographical location as well as particular sociohistorical conjectures … thus incorporat[ing] so-called minority peoples or people of color in [first world nations like] the U.S.A.” Such a revision of the “third world” as an “imagined community of … oppositional struggles … is useful because it leads us away from essentialist notions of third world feminist struggles, suggesting political rather than biological or cultural bases for alliance.” This movement away from essentialism and exclusion in an effort to unify and mobilize diversity against hegemonic and hierarchical power structures is precisely what is at work in “open poem,” where Hammad “locates her individuality within communal concerns and struggles, thus explicitly situating the poetic ‘I’ within a ‘we’ … represent[ing] a united but multiple-colored voice denouncing American white hegemony,” and in doing so redraws the maps of struggles. As Harb similarly notes, “Hammad accomplishes a critique of power through the rearrangement of traditional geographies and seemingly unrelated spaces. In this process, she uses historical experience rather than geographic location as the frame of reference for the redrawing of maps of struggle against a number of oppressive practices.” This is evident in the poem’s powerful reclamation of humanity through a declaration of resistance, in which “brown-eyed girls clash with governments of war” in their determination to “think, analyze, fight back, and be human beings”:
- witness and demand a return to humanity
- we braid resistance through our hair
- pierce justice through our ears
- tattoo freedom onto our breasts
- the bluesy souls of brown-eyed girls
- clash with blood on the pale hands of
- governments of war
- … sent on a mission to set back
- our strength power love
- we be political prisoners walking round semi-free
- our very breath is a threat
- to those who rather we not read
- and think analyze watch out and fight back
- and be human beings the way we need to be
Thus, the transnational poetic geographies that Hammad establishes set the stage for a collective resistance against the structures of power intent on “setting back,” meaning marginalizing, various “semi-free” peoples determined to claim full freedom through solidarities built on the power of love. In this way, the cartographies of struggle are themselves composites, much like identity and the “self” it projects, to which Marco Villalobos attests:
Hammad has drawn a map full of dots we still take pleasure in connecting. …[She] reminds us the distance between millenary African Cities and a Palestinian-Israeli conflict, the distance between Cairo and Jerusalem, is only 265 miles—closer than Los Angeles to San Francisco; closer than Manhattan to Washington, D.C.; that Jordan is only set apart from the African continent by the Sinai Peninsula; that the Red Sea doesn’t make so much of a difference in this respect, since it is crossed by the dust of footprints and the wet of tears, since without the wind’s help ululation reaches from one side of the Suez to the other.
This linking of struggles—and securing one’s own link to a variety of peoples through shared concern for and participation in those struggles—is reenacted throughout Hammad’s poetry, and it is through her poetry that she revisits the sites of struggle to engage with the multicolored voices and multiple narratives of oppression, on all levels and at all distances.
By envisioning identity as flexible, relational, and polycentric, Hammad is able to transcend distance and employ disparity as a battle tactic in the fight against hegemonic structures of power and their oppressive practices. Such intercommunalism, or multicultural polycentrism, according to Ella Shohat and Robert Stam, is not only “a more substantive and reciprocal approach” but also a “profound restructuring and reconceptualization of the power relations between cultural communities” which produces “informed affiliation on the basis of shared social desires and identification.” This is very much the basis of Hammad’s universal (or cosmopolitan) patriotism, designed to counter what Steven Salaita calls, “U.S. imperative patriotism,” which “assumes (or demands) that dissent in matters of governance and foreign affairs is unpatriotic and therefore unsavory. It is drawn from a longstanding sensibility that unconformity to whatever at the time is considered to be ‘the national interest’ is unpatriotic.” Hammad’s poetry not only confronts this notion, but proposes an alternate form of “patriotism” that aligns itself with Appiah’s emphases on multilocal connections amidst an increasingly global “feeling” of interconnectedness. It is this redefinition of patriotism that links tragedies across disparate geographical locations so that struggle is no longer figured in terms of binaries, such as “them” and “us.” And as such, each individual becomes responsible for the struggles of others and, by extension, all communities become subject to answer for the ills of the world.
This belief in both a collective responsibility and in a more global(ized) form of patriotism are unsurprisingly at odds with governing bodies intent on maintaining, militarizing, and exploiting borders and boundaries. This tension is most evident in Hammad’s poem “Beyond Words,” written between 2003 and 2004 as chaos was unfolding around—engulfing—the world: “the axis of evil” was cemented into American political rhetoric; Saddam Hussein had fallen; the United States was in the midst of war with both Iraq and Afghanistan; sexual violence in the Congo was the most rampant in the world; and just as news broke about the horrors at Abu Ghraib, the town of Rafah on the Gaza Strip (where Rachel Corrie had been killed) was nearly destroyed by the IDF, determined to quell the Second Intifada. The poet, who had found—or created, rather—a “home” in poetry, who sought refuge in language, was now at a loss for words: “Where has my language gone?/The poet searches for words to wrap around these times/Make them sense Make them pretty Make them useful/…/Desperate for words I can write/…/Language has failed me.” Although Hammad had constructed entire bodies of work upon the premise of a collective struggle against various forms of global oppression, that premise was now under threaten, once again, of being delegitimized by the vocabulary of separation, the mentality of isolation, and the politics of exclusion: “I am told over and over/Iraq is not Palestine/Kabul is not New York/…/Haiti is not Chechnya/Chiapas is not East L.A./Iraq is not Palestine/Over and over I am told/…/No connections here/No illuminated parallels/Two different histories and two different peoples/Make no links/Do not confuse the issues/Only confuse the people.” Hammad finds herself in limbo, and though her sense of responsibility is immense, it is, ironically, the interconnectedness of conflict that leaves her struggling with paradoxical decisions: “How fucked up is it that I have to choose between ending/One occupation or another?/Partition my time and portion my information/…/[I] am taking too much on Too much in/I find nowhere to rest this responsibility/If I say nothing I am complicit/If I say something I am isolated as extreme.”
Hammad’s sense of hopelessness gives way to a series of negations:
- This is about light and dark
- There is no black and white in humanity
- I am told
- Venezuela is not Cuba
- Rwanda is not Kurdistan
- I am not the woman kneeling
- In front of soldiers and their cameras and their weapons
- I am not the child shot in the head by the Israel Defense Forces
- I am not the starving AIDS inflicted mother
- Praying I live longer than my children
- So they will not be orphaned and sick and have to bury me
- I am not the child who watched
- Her family chopped to death in Lebanon in Sudan in Nicaragua
- I am not the father who leaves his children so as not to hear their
- empty Bellies call out Baba, where is the bread?
Followed by a series of affirmations:
- I am the woman whose taxes outfitted this tragedy
- The American the Authority does not speak for
- The Arab the Arab leaders do not speak for
- The woman whose shouts of Not in My Name
- Were spit back at me as a slogan of the misguided at best
- I am the girl from Brooklyn told to mind her business
- I am the poet in search of new words
- And a new world Not Mars
By demonstrating how all that separates us can threaten any attempt at collective empathy and struggle, and also how authorities and leaders exploit those boundaries and manipulate (in addition to perpetrating, of course) human suffering so as to maintain those boundaries, Hammad struggles to regain common ground and reconnect the dots across a world on fire. In the end however the poet remains hopeful, reaffirming the power of love despite love’s vulnerability in times of chaos:
- There is still love in us
- There is still enough resistance in us
- To create a world where there is no
- Your people or my people
- But our people
- Our people who kill Our people who are killed
- I somehow know love will save us
- I know somehow love will save us
- Though I can’t find the passion or desire in my body to make it
- There is still a source for peace deeply embedded in this chaos
- I know love will save us
- Though words fail to point out how
- Amazingly I still pray
- To a god I envision to be larger than any nation Any religion
- And I still hunt for language to gather into a poem
- That I pray will feed those like me
- In need of proof they are not alone
The repeated affirmations of love’s power to save and unite that end “Beyond Words” can be found elsewhere in Hammad’s poetry, such as in “some of my best friends,” in which she proclaims “love is larger than our details/these are my people.” The poet’s—and, by extension, the universal patriot’s—determination to stay connected, to continue to assert that “over there is over here” and therefore “their” concerns should also be “ours,” brings to mind another profound conclusion drawn by Minh-ha:
The moment the insider steps out from the inside she’s no longer a mere insider. She necessarily looks in from the outside while also looking out from the inside. Not quite the same, not quite the other, she stands in that undetermined threshold place where she continually drifts in and out. Undercutting the inside/outside opposition, her intervention is necessarily that of both not quite an insider and not quite an outsider. She is, in other words, this inappropriate other or same who moves about with always at least two gestures: that of affirming “I am like you” while persisting in her difference and that of reminding “I am different” while unsettling every definition of otherness arrived at.
Such is the nature—the mission, the dream—of the universal patriot, neither inside nor outside, here nor there, nowhere but everywhere. In this schema, the world becomes the site of multiple engagements, with home, with self, and with struggle.
In December 2010, American Quarterly featured the forum, “From La Frontera to Gaza: Chicano-Palestinian Connections” in which the aim was to “ask important questions about the connections between pursuits of justice and the organization of bodies and nations.” I could not help but to draw connections between this particular issue of AQ and Hammad’s poetry, which essentially strives to accomplish the same ends. Thankfully, it seems that Hammad’s poetry is part of an ongoing project in which nations, especially “America,” are deconstructed and rearticulated as a series of connections within and without its borders. Such a re-articulation necessitates a revision—that is, an expansion—of a term closely associated with nationhood: patriotism. Curiously (though not surprisingly), while nations extend their borders and expand their frontiers, the same does not follow for the concept of patriotism. In her provocative essay “Intifada, USA,” June Jordan, tormented by the onset of the Gulf War and haunted by images of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, endeavors to link struggle to struggle in the very same fashion as Hammad and contemplates the fate of us all:
- Clearly, a barrel of oil is worth more than any number of Palestinian lives. Clearly, a barrel of oil is worth more than 250,000 young African-American and Mexican-American and Latino and poor white men and women now sweltering on the Arabian desert while they await God-knows-what horrible and untimely death.
- I say we need a rising up, an Intifada, USA.
- We need to rise up. We need to stand against the “standoff” in the Persian Gulf. We need an Intifada, USA.
- At night, I go to bed afraid to close my eyes, or sleep: I ask my soul these questions aching on my conscience: What will happen to that little girl, that child of Palestine? What is happening to you and me?
Those haunting questions Jordan poses at the conclusion of her essay rhetorically close the distance and bridge the gap between “them” and “us” by premising that what is happening to “that child of Palestine” is what is happening to “you and me.” The work of Jordan and Hammad, the activism of Rachel Corrie, and the “project of reimagination” at the heart of scholarly publications like AQ are continuing to make these connections, and in the process are redefining what it means to love one’s country, one’s people, and oneself in a world that is anything but singular. As Gloria Anzaldúa wrote, from the borders:
Through the act of writing you call … the scattered pieces of your soul back to your body. You commence the arduous task of rebuilding yourself, composing a story that more accurately expresses your new identity. You seek out allies and, together, begin building spiritual/political communities that struggle for personal growth and social justice … [and] forge bonds across race, gender and other lines, thus creating a new tribalism. … [I]nternal work coupled with commitment to struggle for social transformation—changes your relationship to your body, and, in turn, to other bodies and to the world. And when that happens, you change the world.
Unfortunately, however, the obstacles are still there, even growing: given the prevalence of violent conflict all over the world, the comfort of hierarchy and the rhetoric of separation seem only to be disseminating instead of dwindling. Thus, the quintessential challenge facing any project of social justice is to invent new ways of drawing out and prioritizing the “we” in “I” in order to be a successful, at least possible, global force for change.
- For more on Rachel Corrie, see Therese Saliba, “On Rachel Corrie, Palestine, and Feminist Solidarity,” in eds. Rabab Abdulhadi, Evelyn Alsultany, and Nadine Naber, Arab and Arab American Feminisms: Gender, Violence, & Belonging (Syracuse: Syracuse UP, 2011), 184-202; Rachel Corrie, “Letter from Palestine (February 7, 2003),” in eds. Howard Zinn and Anthony Arnove, Voices of a People’s History of the United States (New York: Seven Stories Press, 2009), 608-9; and eds. Craig and Cindy Corrie, Let Me Stand Alone: The Journals of Rachel Corrie (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2008).
- Suheir Hammad, “On the Brink of…,” The Electronic Intifada, March 19, 2003, accessed November 27, 2012, http://electronicintifada.net/content/brink/4466.
- The graffiti in Rafah to commemorate Corrie is described in Saliba, 186.
- Ibid., 187.
- Over the course of three days in September 1982, during the Lebanese Civil War, thousands of Palestinian civilians in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Beirut were slaughtered by a Lebanese Phalangist militia, aided by the IDF.
- June Jordan, “Moving Towards Home,” in Jordan’s Naming Our Destiny: New and Selected Poems (New York: Thunder’s Mouth, 1989), 143.
- The idea of “becoming,” as opposed to “being,” has been philosophized from Heraclitus to David Hume, Charles Darwin, Friedrich Nietzsche, and beyond. In contemporary postcolonial discourses, “becoming,” as it relates to notions of “the self,” is synonymous with “reinvention,” “transcendence,” and, as we see in contemporary cosmopolitical theory, “multiplication” and “pluralization.” Of course, the relationship between “becoming” and difference as it applies to identity formation and identification has been extensively theorized, most notably by Roland Barthes, Mikhail Bakhtin, Michel Foucault, and Stuart Hall, among others. Though the concept of “becoming” is often at odds with the question of “authenticity” or “essence” by which it is problematized, it is worth bearing in mind that the “authenticity” of any discourse on “essentialism,” especially as it relates to “humanism,” is itself problematic, rooted in myth (albeit accepted myth) than in objectivity or “reality” (despite discursive testaments to the contrary). Thus, if we accept identity as a construction and not an origin—that is, as synthetic than natural, as defining than definitive—then we must necessarily accept the concept of “being” as illusion or even delusion corresponding to (or created from) a falsified reality of oneness. After all, “being,” as Nietzsche famously declared, is only empty abstraction.
- While Hammad’s poetry subscribes to that version of cosmopolitanism articulated by Appiah, her own discursive emphasis is less on implementing a “tradition” of thinking about difference as universal, and more on situating the self within a universalism that not only acknowledges difference but also mobilizes difference through (poetic) force, informed political action, and a pluralized self-love. As Appiah theorizes, this (re)situation of the self is contingent upon a redefinition of “self”—namely, of multiplying identity and, consequently, the affinities associated with that identification.
- Kwame Anthony Appiah, “Cosmopolitan Patriots,” Critical Inquiry 23.3 (1997): 620.
- Ibid., 622.
- Ibid. Emphases in the original.
- It is important to contextualize cosmopolitan thinking—that is, to distinguish between the positive projection of diversity by contemporary cosmopolitanism (as most popularly philosophized in Appiah’s Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers [NY: W.W. Norton & Company, 2006]) and the different “projects” of cosmopolitanism prior to the current era, which had subscribed to notions of self-sameness postulated by imperialistic Christianity, Enlightenment humanism, Eurocentrism, and Occidentalism in its centuries-long efforts to homogenize, rather than accept, incorporate, and respect, difference. For an insightful history of cosmopolitan thinking, see Walter Mignolo, “The Many Faces of Cosmo-polis: Border Thinking and Critical Cosmopolitanism,” Public Culture 12.3 (2000): 721-48, esp. 737-39, in which Mignolo traces cosmopolitanism’s shift from humanism to human rights. For more on moral universalism, human rights, and the universalization of human rights, see Immanuel Kant, “Toward Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Sketch,” in ed. Pauline Kleingeld, Toward Perpetual Peace and Other Writings on Politics, Peace, and History, trans. David L. Colclasure (New Haven: Yale UP, 2006), 67-109, and “Idea for a Universal History from a Cosmopolitan Perspective,” 3-16; and Peter Benenson, “The Forgotten Prisoners (abridged),” The Observer, May 27, 1961, http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/1961/may/28/fromthearchive.theguardian. For a Feminist perspective, see Chandra Talpade Mohanty, Feminism Without Borders: Decolonizing Theory, Practicing Solidarity (Durham: Duke UP, 2003). For a compelling and timely critique of universal human rights and / as disciplining violence in the age of global U.S. power, see Randall Williams, The Divided World: Human Rights and Its Violence (Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 2010).
- Hammad, “author’s preface (1996),” in Hammad’s Born Palestinian, Born Black & The Gaza Suite (New York: UpSet Press, 2010), 12. This collection will henceforth be cited as BPBB in the notes.
- Ibid., 13.
- Siréne Harb, “Transformative Practices and Historical Revision: Suheir Hammad’s Born Palestinian, Born Black,” Studies in the Humanities 35.1 (June 2008): 35.
- Salman Rushdie, “Imaginary Homelands,” in Rushdie’s Imaginary Homelands: Essays and Criticism 1981-1991 (New York: Granta, 1991), 19.
- Hammad, “taxi,” in BPBB, 26.
- Ibid. Emphasis mine.
- Debke (or Dabkah) is a Palestinian folk dance, practiced also in Syria and Lebanon. After the establishment of Israel in 1948, and even more so after the Six Day War in 1967, Debke assumed a political role, becoming a fervent symbol of Palestinian nationalism. As such, Debke performances have been (and continue to be) repeatedly banned by Israel, particularly during times of heated conflict, such as the First and Second Intifada.
- The infamous Ktzi’ot Prison, known by Palestinians as Ansar III, is a detention camp run by the Israeli army. During the First Intifada (1987-1993), an estimated 1 in 50 Palestinian males from the Territories were detained there, according to a 1991 report from Human Rights Watch.
- Hammad, “taxi,” 27-8. Emphases mine.
- Michelle Hartman, “‘A Debke Beat Funky as P.E.’s Riff’: Hip Hop Poetry and Politics in Suheir Hammad’s Born Palestinian, Born Black,” Black Arts Quarterly 7.1 (2002): 6.
- Hammad, “taxi,” 27.
- Harb, “Transformative Practices and Historical Revision,” 45.
- Carol Fadda-Conrey, “Weaving Poetic Autobiographies: Individual and Communal Identities in the Poetry of Mohja Kahf and Suheir Hammad,” in ed. Nawar Al-Hassan Golley, Arab Women’s Lives Retold: Exploring Identity through Writing (Syracuse: Syracuse UP, 2007), 163.
- Keith Feldman, “Poetic Geographies: Interracial Insurgency in Arab American Autobiographical Spaces,” in ed. Golley, Arab Women’s Lives Retold, 64.
- Trinh T. Minh-ha, “Not You/Like You: Post-Colonial Women and the Interlocking Questions of Identity and Difference,” in eds. McClintock, Mufti, and Shohat, Dangerous Liaisons: Gender, Nation, and Postcolonial Perspectives (Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 1997), 418.
- Harb, “Transformative Practices and Historical Revision,” 39.
- Hammad, “Foreword: From the Margin to the Page,” in ed. Jocelyn Burrell, Word: On Being a [Woman] Writer (New York: Feminist Press, 2004), xiii.
- Marcy Jane Knopf-Newman, “Interview with Suheir Hammad,” Multi-Ethnic Literature of the U.S. 31.4 (2006): 85.
- For more on the politics (and the problem) of race in relation to Arab and Arab American identities, see Ian F. Haney-López, White by Law: The Legal Construction of Race (New York: New York UP, 1996); Salah D. Hassan, “Arabs, Race and the Post-September 11 National Security State,” Middle East Report 224 (2002): 16-21; and esp. Lisa Suhair Majaj, “Arab-Americans and the Meaning of Race,” in eds. Amritjit Singh and Peter Schmidt, Post-Colonial Theory and the Unites States: Race, Ethnicity and Literature (Jackson: U of Mississippi P, 2000), 320-37.
- Hammad, “manifest destiny,” in BPBB, 72. Emphases mine.
- Feldman, 67.
- Ibid., 70.
- Ibid., 69.
- Harb, “Transformative Practices and Historical Revision,” 35.
- Hammad, “we spent the fourth of july in bed,” in BPBB, 78.
- Arabic for “Palestinian.”
- Hammad, “we spent the fourth of july in bed,” 78-9. Emphasis mine.
- See “first writing since,” in Hammad’s ZaatarDiva (New York: Cypher Books, 2005), 98-102. This collection will henceforth be cited as ZD in the notes. See also “brothers keep me up,” 43-44, and “angels get no maps,” 55-58.
- Knopf-Newman, 87.
- Hammad, “we spent the fourth of july in bed,” 79-80. Emphases mine.
- Fadda-Conrey, 166-7.
- Minh-ha, 418.
- Hammad, “we spent the fourth of july in bed,” 80.
- Ibid., 81.
- Appiah, “Cosmopolitan Patriots,” 624-25.
- Hammad, “letter to anthony (critical resistance),” in ZD, 66.
- Ibid., 66-7. Emphases mine.
- Ibid., 67-8.
- Minh-ha, 415.
- Hammad, “open poem to those who rather we not read…or breathe,” in BPBB, 73.
- Fadda-Conrey, 165.
- Chandra Talpade Mohanty, “Introduction—Cartographies of Struggle: Third World Women and the Politics of Feminism,” in eds. Mohanty, Ann Russo, and Lourdes Torres, Third World Women and the Politics of Feminism (Indianapolis: Indiana UP, 1991), 2.
- Ibid., 4.
- Fadda-Conrey, 164.
- Harb, “Transformative Practices and Historical Revision,” 35.
- Hammad, “open poem,” 74.
- Marco Villalobos, introduction to Hammad’s BPBB, 15-16.
- Ella Shohat and Robert Stam, Unthinking Eurocentrism: Multiculturalism and the Media (London: Routledge, 1994), 47, 49.
- Steven Salaita, “Ethnic Identity and Imperative Patriotism: Arab Americans Before and After 9/11,” College Literature 32.2 (2005): 154.
- See Hammad, “On Refuge and Language,” Affilia: Journal of Women and Social Work 21.2 (2006): 240-41.
- Hammad, “Beyond Words,” in eds. Abdulhadi, Alsultany, and Naber, Arab and Arab American Feminisms, 3.
- Ibid., 4-5.
- Ibid., 6.
- Ibid., 7.
- Ibid., 8-9. Emphases mine.
- Ibid., “some of my best friends,” in ZD, 89. See also Hammad’s “first writing since,” written and circulated on the internet a week after 9/11, in ZD, 98-102, esp. 100-1.
- Minh-ha, 418.
- Sarah Banet-Weiser, “Editor’s Note,” American Quarterly 62.4 (December 2010): v.
- Jordan, “Intifada, USA,” in Jordan’s Affirmative Acts: Political Essays (New York: Doubleday, 1998), 7.
- Gloria Anzaldúa, “now let us shift … the path of conocimiento … inner work, public acts,” in eds. Anzaldúa and Analouise Keating, This Bridge We Call Home: Radical Visions for Transformation (New York: Routledge, 2002), 573-4.
Abdulhadi, Rabab. “Where is Home? Fragmented Lives, Border Crossings, and the Politics of Exile.” In Arab and Arab American Feminisms: Gender, Violence, & Belonging. Edited by Rabab Abdulhadi, Evelyn Alsultany, and Nadine Naber. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2011. 315-28.
Abdulhadi, Rabab, Nadine Naber, and Evelyn Alsultany. “Gender, Nation, and Belonging: Arab and Arab-American Feminist Perspectives—An Introduction.” The MIT Electronic Journal of Middle East Studies 5 (2005): 7-24.
Anzaldúa, Gloria E., and Analouise Keating, eds. This Bridge We Call Home: Radical Visions for Transformation. New York: Routledge, 2002.
Appiah, Kwame Anthony. “Cosmopolitan Patriots.” Critical Inquiry 23.3 (1997): 617-39.
_____. Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2006.
Appiah, Kwame Anthony, and Henry Louis Gates, Jr. “Editor’s Introduction: Multiplying Identities.” Critical Inquiry 18.4 (1992): 625-29.
Banet-Weiser, Sarah. “Editor’s Note.” American Quarterly 62.4 (December 2010): v-vii.
Bayoumi, Moustafa, and Andrew Rubin, eds. The Edward Said Reader. New York: Vintage, 2000.
Benenson, Peter. “The Forgotten Prisoners (abridged).” The Observer, May 27, 1961. http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/1961/may/28/fromthearchive.theguardian
Corrie, Craig and Cindy Corrie, eds. Let Me Stand Alone: The Journals of Rachel Corrie. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2008.
Corrie, Rachel. “Letter from Palestine.” In Voices of a People’s History of the United States. Edited by Howard Zinn and Anthony Arnove. New York: Seven Stories Press, 2009. 608-9.
Criollo, Manuel. “Palestinian and Chicano Peoples Share a History of Resistance to Colonization, Racism, and Imperialism.” American Quarterly 62.4 (December 2010): 847-54.
Fadda-Conrey, Carol. “Weaving Poetic Autobiographies: Individual and Communal Identities in the Poetry of Mohja Kahf and Suheir Hammad.” In Arab Women’s Lives Retold: Exploring Identity through Writing. Edited by Nawar Al-Hassan Golley. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2007. 155-77.
Fadlalla, Amal Hassan. “The Memory of Your Hands is a Rainbow.” Translated by Khaled Mattawa. In eds. Abdulhadi, Alsultany, and Naber, Arab and Arab American Feminisms, 2011. 283-87.
Feldman, Keith. “Poetic Geographies: Interracial Insurgency in Arab American Autobiographical Spaces.” In ed. Golley, Arab Women’s Lives Retold, 2007. 51-70.
Fusté, José I. “Containing Bordered ‘Others’ in La Frontera and Gaza: Comparative Lessons on Racializing Discourses and State Violence.” American Quarterly 62.4 (December 2010): 811-19.
Hammad, Suheir. “Composites.” Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 28.1 (2002): 470-71.
_____. “On the Brink of….” The Electronic Intifada, March 19, 2003. Accessed November 27, 2012. http://electronicintifada.net/content/brink/4466.
_____. “Foreword: From the Margin to the Page.” In Word: On Being a [Woman] Writer. Edited by Jocelyn Burrell. New York: Feminist Press, 2004. xi-xiv.
_____. “Directing My Pen Inward.” In Scheherazade’s Legacy: Arab and Arab American Women on Writing. Edited by Susan Muaddi Darraj. Westport: Praeger, 2004. 79-82.
_____. ZaatarDiva. New York: Cypher Books, 2005.
_____. “On Refuge and Language.” Affilia: Journal of Women and Social Work 21.2 (2006): 240-41.
_____. Born Palestinian, Born Black & The Gaza Suite. New York: UpSet Press, 2010.
_____. “Beyond Words.” In eds. Abdulhadi, Alsultany, Naber, Arab and Arab American Feminisms, 2011. 3-9.
Handal, Nathalie. “Drops of Suheir Hammad: A Talk with a Palestinian Poet Born Black.” Al-Jadid, May 5, 1997. http://www.aljadid.com/interviews/DropsofSuheirHammad.html.
Haney-López, Ian F. White by Law: The Legal Construction of Race. New York: New York University Press, 1996.
_____. “The Social Construction of Race.” In Literary Theory: An Anthology. 2nd Edition. Edited by Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan. Malden: Blackwell Publishing, 2004. 964-74.
Harb, Siréne. “Transformative Practices and Historical Revision: Suheir Hammad’s Born Palestinian, Born Black.” Studies in the Humanities 35.1 (June 2008): 34-49.
_____. “Arab American Women’s Writing and September 11: Contrapuntality and Associative Remembering.” Multi-Ethnic Literature of the U.S. 37.3 (2012): 13-41.
Hartman, Michelle. “‘A Debke Beat Funky as P.E.’s Riff’: Hip Hop Poetry and Politics in Suheir Hammad’s Born Palestinian, Born Black.” Black Arts Quarterly 7.1 (2002): 6-8.
_____. “‘this sweet/sweet music’: Jazz, Sam Cooke, and Reading Arab American Literary Identities.” Multi-Ethnic Literature of the U.S. 31.4 (2006): 145-65.
Hassan, Salah D. “Arabs, Race and the Post-September 11 National Security State.” Middle East Report 224 (2002): 16-21.
Jarmakani, Amira. “Arab American Feminisms: Mobilizing the Politics of Invisibility.” In eds. Abdulhadi, Alsultany, and Naber, Arab and Arab American Feminisms, 2011. 227-41.
Jordan, June. Naming Our Destiny: New and Selected Poems. New York: Thunder’s Mouth, 1989.
_____. Affirmative Acts: Political Essays. New York: Doubleday, 1998.
_____. Some of Us Did Not Die: New and Selected Essays. New York: Basic/Civitas Books, 2003.
Kant, Immanuel. Toward Perpetual Peace and Other Writings on Politics, Peace, and History. Edited by Pauline Kleingeld. Translated by David L. Colclasure. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006.
Knopf-Newman, Marcy Jane. “Interview with Suheir Hammad.” Multi-Ethnic Literature of the U.S. 31.4 (2006): 71-91.
Majaj, Lisa Suhair. “Arab-Americans and the Meaning of Race.” In Post-Colonial Theory and the Unites States: Race, Ethnicity and Literature. Edited by Amritjit Singh and Peter Schmidt. Jackson: University of Mississippi Press, 2000. 320-37.
Mignolo, Walter. “The Many Faces of Cosmo-polis: Border Thinking and Critical Cosmopolitanism.” Public Culture 12.3 (2000): 721-48.
Minh-ha, Trinh T. “Not You/Like You: Post-Colonial Women and the Interlocking Questions of Identity and Difference.” In Dangerous Liaisons: Gender, Nation, and Postcolonial Perspectives. Edited by Anne McClintock, Aamir Mufti, and Ella Shohat. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1997. 415-19.
Mohanty, Chandra Talpade. “Introduction—Cartographies of Struggle: Third World Women and the Politics of Feminism.” In Third World Women and the Politics of Feminism. Edited by Chandra Talpade Mohanty, Ann Russo, and Lourdes Torres. Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1991. 1-47.
_____. “Under Western Eyes: Feminist Scholarship and Colonial Discourses.” In eds. Mohanty, Russo, and Torres, Third World Women, 1991. 51-80.
_____. Feminism Without Borders: Decolonizing Theory, Practicing Solidarity. Durham: Duke University Press, 2003.
Pulido, Laura, and David Lloyd. “From La Frontera to Gaza: Chicano-Palestinian Connections.” American Quarterly 62.4 (December 2010): 791-94.
Rosaldo, Renato. Culture & Truth: The Remaking of Social Analysis. Boston: Beacon Press, 1989.
Rothberg, Michael. “‘There is No Poetry in This’: Writing, Trauma, and Home.” In Trauma at Home: After 9/11. Edited by Judith Greenberg. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2003. 147-57.
Rushdie, Salman. “Imaginary Homelands.” In Imaginary Homelands: Essays and Criticism 1981-1991, by Salman Rushdie. New York: Granta, 1991. 9-21.
Said, Edward. Culture and Imperialism. New York: Vintage, 1994.
_____. “Reflections on Exile.” In Reflections on Exile and Other Essays, by Edward Said. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2000. 173-86.
_____. “Between Worlds.” In Said, Reflections on Exile, 2000. 554-68.
Salaita, Steven. “Ethnic Identity and Imperative Patriotism: Arab Americans Before and After 9/11.” College Literature 32.2 (2005): 146-68.
Saldívar, Martha Vanessa. “From Mexico to Palestine: An Occupation of Knowledge, a Mestizaje of Methods.” American Quarterly 62.4 (December 2010): 821-33.
Saliba, Therese. “On Rachel Corrie, Palestine, and Feminist Solidarity.” In eds. Abdulhadi, Alsultany, and Naber, Arab and Arab American Feminisms, 2011. 184-202.
Sayigh, Rosemary. “Arab and Arab-American Feminisms: Gender, Violence, and Belonging.” Book Review. Race & Class 54.2 (2012): 108-18.
Shohat, Ella, and Robert Stam. Unthinking Eurocentrism: Multiculturalism and the Media. London: Routledge, 1994.
Villalobos, Marco. Introduction to Born Palestinian, Born Black & The Gaza Suite, by Suheir Hammad. New York: UpSet Press, 2010. 15-18.
Williams, Randall. The Divided World: Human Rights and Its Violence. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2010.