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A view from Palestinian America

Eid’s shots are simple and warm; you can imagine coming across them in a stack of prints fresh from CVS Photo. She created them with a film camera, partly because she wanted a finite number of frames. «The physical progression of the reel feels like progress to me,» she said. For Eid, the act of documenting is a way to resist erasure—to affirm that we exist, that we have a history, and that our lives are important enough to be seen and remembered. «What we’re experiencing now is generations deep,» she told me.

Eid took these photos while traveling home for the holy month Ramadan, which began five months after the Gaza war. (She shares her last name with the Eid holiday, which marks the end of Ramadan.) Her original goal was to talk to her parents about growing up in Palestine, mostly out of fear of being cut off from her heritage. “I can’t help but connect my fear of losing my family’s history with the fear of losing our history, culture and humanity on a larger level,” she told me. When she got to Missouri, Eid found her father staring at his phone endlessly scrolling through news and analysis from Gaza. To photograph him with his dog, the professor, she had to watch him observe the destruction. «This is what it looks like: slumped body language, constant attachment to nightmare after nightmare news,» she said.

«Time stopped for me in October like a crack in my multiverse,» Eid said. «Lost in my daily sadness, I stopped taking care of myself, so when I came to Missouri, I had my younger sister, Shorooq, dye and wash my hair.»

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Eid’s work contains many reminders of the war, but they are often in the background and the photographs appear deliberately quiet. Many of the details may seem nostalgic to Palestinian Americans: the laminated tablecloth on the dining room table; mosque embroidery behind Eid’s father. And yet, alongside this familiarity, it is disheartening to realize that such images rarely appear in the news, which tends to show Palestinians with war in the foreground and which risks bringing us back to our traumas. Ramadan is a happy time and there is a lightness in Eid’s photos, but she was reluctant to document the typical celebrations of the holy month. She couldn’t reconcile them with what was happening overseas. Instead, she photographed some of the things that help Palestinians overcome their pain: community, solidarity, resilience. Joy is a reminder that Palestine endures, that we carry the place with us even as it disappears before our eyes.

Eid’s images of protest are strikingly geometric: a protester forms a strong triangle while writing with chalk on a pavement board; sharp parallel lines of electric wires and lane markings frame the march along the road. In the background we can see the iconic American strip mall that includes Michaels and Krispy Kreme. What’s striking, aside from Eid’s compositional gift, is the age range and origins of the marchers, and the way Palestinian flags seem to replace the American ones viewers might expect. (Protests also echo those in Ferguson, St. Louis County, just fifteen miles away.)

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