Do Unto Others focuses on the Middle East, (nonviolent) social movements, and how I make sense of my place in the world. I'm currently based in Cairo, Egypt doing peacebuilding and community development.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

People Not Places


Writeup from Waging Nonviolence:

Although she was born in Israel to Jewish parents and raised in Ann Arbor Michigan, Detroit-based MC Invincible has a pretty deep understanding of the issues facing Palestinians, as evidenced by the above music video for her song “People Not Places.” In fact, it would be near impossible for any Westerner to fully comprehend the song’s many historical and cultural references without reading her very insightful lyrics page.

Invincible (whose name is Ilana Weaver) says it took years to write the song, but that it was originally inspired by a conversation she had with her mom, who responded to a question about missing Israel, by saying, “I miss people. I don’t miss places.” But given that so many indigenous people were displaced to create the nation state of Israel, Invincible says she came to see “what a priviledge it was to not miss this place and to not prioritize that connection between people and places.”

The song and video then became a product of her recently launched project Emergence Travel Agency, which aims to create “media that resists displacement, gentrification, colonization, occupation, obstruction of movement, denial of the right to leave, and denial of the right to return.”

The “People Not Places” video follows through on that objective. In it, Invincible plays two characters, explained by her website as: “a Birthright Israel tour recruiter, styled as a used car salesman; and herself, subverting the recruiter’s mission by exposing the buried Palestinian significance of each location in the tour.” The video is also interspersed with interviews of Palestinians and people from other displaced refugee communities.

The effect is extremely moving and provocative. But not just because the message is so strong and on point. Invincible is also an undeniably talented MC. Were it not for that fact, her message could easily fall flat.

Her skills have not gone unrecognized. Last year, the Detroit Metro Times ran a cover story on Invincible, calling her “one of the best emcees in the country.” Talib Kweli has also given her a shout out as “One of the most talented emcees I’ve ever heard black or white, male or female…”

Hopefully we’ll be hearing plenty more from her.