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By : Juliet Oliver

7 min read

Toni Cade Bambara said, “The role of the artist is to make revolution irresistible."

In these times, when genocide against Palestinians being is funded with our tax money, our president is bypassing checks and balances to send more weapons and cash, defying the International Court of Justice. Meanwhile groceries and rent break the bank. Our “democracy” gives us two privileged, old presidential candidates who lack moral courage and are blatantly beholden to financial profit over the will of the people. We are told that our only choice is the “lesser of two evils.” In these times, revolution needs to be on all of our lips, on the tip of every paintbrush and pen. 

I’m a diaspora Palestinian and lifelong interdisciplinary artist. I have made my daily bread as an arts educator, while I’ve continued to make music and theater to feed my soul and my community. In these times I must alchemize intense grief into action toward justice for the people of my homeland and the world. It’s overwhelming to continue mundane tasks, knowing that child amputees are starving, people are menstruating with no supplies, mothers give birth without medication, while fathers dig in rubble with bare hands looking for the remains of their kids. 

Does anything I do matter, especially if it’s not in direct resistance to colonization and slaughter? How do I keep from burning out and care for myself? Why do I have the privilege to rest, take a hot shower, and throw away veggie scraps? What about Congo, Sudan, Haiti? I remind myself that any blow to empire is a step toward our collective liberation, that small actions add up. I boycott, I march, I post, I learn, I call. Does it matter??? 

When systems of power seem immovable, impenetrable, we must be like water on the stone, over time, with our sustained collective power, we can carve a path. 

What are our strengths? What things bring us joy,  and how can we use those gifts in service of justice? How can we feed, inspire, and support each other? It’s not all on my shoulders or yours. We aren’t meant to grieve alone, we aren’t meant to change the world alone. 

So, I worked overnight making a zine to educate people about Falastine. I made a theater piece for a Queers for Palestine event. People cried and I saw in their eyes that they felt with me a fraction of what Gazans feel. I share another post, spend the weekend on the streets with my handmade sign and the beautiful people who showed up for my people. Another weekend I perform an original song about Palestine, I hope it’s catchy enough to stay on listeners' lips.. Another weekend I go to a Palestinian film screening to learn and feel. What films will I show at the screening I’m planning? What venue will host us? 

The work continues. I can rest and return, this is a long game. I need variety and joy to keep flowing, and I stay rooted in my values of love, equality, justice, self determination, and LIFE. Art will always be the cornerstone of my resistance practice because it’s how my heart speaks. The Bread and Puppet Theatre’s “Why Cheap Art Manifesto” says, “ART IS FOOD. You can't EAT it BUT it FEEDS you. ART has to be CHEAP & available to EVERYBODY. It needs to be EVERYWHERE because it is the INSIDE of the WORLD.” 

I hope you too will share your art, the inside of your world, in service of justice and peace worldwide. 

—Juliet Olivier 



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