“Quisieron enterrarnos, pero no sabían que éramos semillas.”
On March 16, 2022, it will be 19 years since Rachel Corrie passed away. Rachel had gone to the border city of Rafah in Palestine to protest the Israeli Occupation and specifically, Israeli policies regarding land seizures. She perished under a militarized CAT bulldozer made specifically for Israel’s use. She was 23.
Her death reminds me of the powerful quote by Dinos Christianopoulos, which the Zapatistas adopted in their struggle to maintain indigenous land in Mexico: “They tried to bury us, but they didn’t know we were seeds.”
Genocide is still occurring in Palestine, in the US, and around the world. Omar Abdalmajeed As’ad, a Palestinian-American octogenarian, was murdered by Israeli security forces outside of Ramallah in January of this year, one of the countless Palestinians murdered by Israeli security forces every month. In our own country, Valentina Orellana Peralta, a 14-year old, was shopping in a clothing store when she was gunned down by Los Angeles police two days before Christmas 2021. Those who are most or more marginalized are being buried, quite literally.
Like everyone who gives their lives for justice, peace, hope, and liberation, Rachel was a complex human who deserved a long and fruitful life. Her legacy has become a seed for many in the United States and in Palestine. Her family continues to water that seed with the Rachel Corrie Foundation, so that generations after me in Olympia and in Palestine may reap its fruit, rise to Rachel’s challenge, and keep fighting for what is right.
One way to water these seeds locally is in mutual aid—supporting community members who are suffering, so that they, in turn, may support us or others. The future won’t be in self-care, but in community care. We have orchards of community power to draw from, all over the United States and the world, to continue working to end Israeli apartheid and foster healthy communities based not on technocratic fascism but on self-determination for Palestinians and freedom for all people. We can lend a hand to those who need it, across the street or across international borders, so that we may all live in dignity. If not for ourselves, then for our children, whether they live in Renton or in Rafah. Let’s do some gardening together.
Austin Okopny is a formerly homeless TESC student and intern at Rachel Corrie Foundation.
March 16, 2022 is the 19th anniversary of Rachel Corrie’s death.
Rachel Corrie Foundation invites the community to attend a zoom webinar on “Holding Israel Accountable,” featuring voices and perspectives from the Palestinian Diaspora, solidarity groups, and current actions being taken in the United States and internationally. Wednesday, March 16th, 5 pm. Register for the event and receive the zoom link at Rachel Corrie Foundation.