Neither Thugs nor Terrorists: Black-Palestinian Solidarity Movements in the United States


Serhan, Randa, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Sociology, American University

Soon after a series of protests in Ferguson, Missouri, African-American protestors there and Palestinian protestors in the West Bank began to include the slogan “From Ferguson to Palestine, Occupation is a Crime” in their public statements. In Neither Thugs nor Terrorists, Randa Serhan uses cutting edge first-hand research to explore how these two distant communities found common cause in protesting the militarization of the forces that policed and criminalized them.

Activists believed they had sparked a new organic connection between African-Americans and Palestinians, but they were actually rediscovering links made decades before by an earlier generation of activists operating in the 1960s, the most notable of whom was Malcolm X. Since 2014, they have also (re-)discovered the cost of such an alliance as many of the most vocal among them have been privately and publicly attacked. This has not, however, stopped the spread of such alliances in varying size and degree across the United States, including among such groups as Black-Palestinian Solidarity, the U.S. Campaign for Palestine, Muslims for Ferguson, Black Lives Matter, Adalah-NY: The Campaign for the Boycott Israel, the Jewish Voice for Peace, and the If Not Now Movement.

Neither Thugs nor Terrorists builds on the oral histories and personal stories of eight individual activists, four who were active in the earlier period (1960s-1980s) and four who are currently active. Through the experiences of each activist, a common story emerges, relating the continuities and discontinuities of working for a seemingly impossible alliance. In some instances, the earlier activists paved the way for younger activists to find their strategies and know the challenges ahead. At other times, the more sophisticated surveillance state has produced obstacles unimaginable in the past. This book brings to light the everyday lives of activists, the stories that remain untold about shared Black-Palestinian activism, and the costs paid by those who find a common humanity in rejecting the labels of thugs and terrorists.

American Studies, Middle Eastern Studies, Identity Politics, Activism, African-American Studies, Mass Movements, Protest Movements, Palestine, Palestinian Studies, Malcom X, Civil Rights, Criminal Justice, Surveillance, Police Operations, Missouri
Release Date: 
December 15, 2019
978-1680530896 Hardcover
Trim Size: 

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