GrayLit, December 2018.
In this moment, GrayLit: A Culture Hub sets off on a journey defined by social and political aspirations to be decolonial in orientation. It strives to contribute to an emergent culture shift happening at the intersections of Palestinian and Jewish histories, via critical thought and art in connection to interdependent movements for justice.
We ask ourselves and each other: Whose voices do we (and do we not) hear? Whose histories are we (and are we not) taught? Whose work do we (and do we not) see? The voices, histories, and work exist-- but are too often overlooked, silenced, or erased. What are the implications of that erasure? What is our responsibility to address it?
This inaugural round of content is a sampling of the kinds of art and thought that we're excited to explore in this forum. Featured are: layered visual works by a New York based Philipinx-Jewish-American painter who investigates ideas of home and land; poems by four U.S. based writers offered in honor of Palestinian poet Dareen Tatour; a Lebanese-American poet’s translation of Dareen’s words from prison alongside his own work inspired by Lebanese freedom fighter Souha Bechara; a poetry/art book about displacement and survival with visuals by Palestinian artists around the world; a series of paintings by an Israeli-American artist investigating the politics of mapping, in collaboration with Jewish Currents; and there is more to come over the next few weeks!
GrayLit is eager to lift up creative work that challenges the hegemony of the mainstream art world. It strives to be an alternative outlet for art, culture, and related discourses created by and in solidarity with Palestinian communities and movements for collective liberation.
While recognizing the necessity of direct action and longer-term campaigns driven by grassroots organizing in bringing about social and political change, GrayLit also insists that cultural work is activism in its own right which digs at the roots of oppressive systems, working to tear them from the soil.
Incubated in a context of Jewish solidarity organizing for Palestinian liberation, we position ourselves in cooperation with other platforms dedicated to critically engaging with Jewishness from a cultural and political lens. Established in recent years or experiencing a resurgence, peers such as Jewish Currents, Protocols, the Unruly blog, Ayin Press, Treyf Podcast, and the Unsettled podcast offer opportunities for connection, inspiration, and learning.
GrayLit’s vision insists that the editorial and curatorial work be done by a group that reflects the diversity of the art we’re highlighting. At the time of our launch and writing this introductory letter, our editorial team is made up of white Jews and non-Jews. This team will evolve as we grow. Roles of editors, writers, and artists will cross, opening space for a multiplicity of mediums, conversations, and collaborations.
We set out, guided by these questions:
How can GrayLit uplift the voices and creative work of Palestinians and other communities affected by settler colonialism and white supremacy?
How can we expand ideas and experiences of Jewishness-- definitively delinking it from Zionism, and combating the erasure of Jews of Color, Sephardim, and Mizrahim?
In the spirit of accountability and collaboration, we are excited to ask these and other questions of ourselves, our contributors, and our readers—and to let the answers shape what GrayLit becomes.