Prior to ~2010, depending on the county or state you lived in, young people like myself would age out of the formal government foster care system at 18 years old and be shoved in the transition into adulthood without the typical support that your everyday teenager would get from their parents. Transition-aged foster youth emancipated out of government foster care into an "unofficial" foster care system that you had to create for yourself through maintaining relationships with close friends and mentors. It's through relationships with friends like Jihad, who taught me how to drive stick shift, that kids coming out of the foster care system were able to survive the transition to adulthood. This was the societal norm until the extension of services for system-involved youth until age 21 provided more state backed support for this pinnacle time in their development.

I aged out of foster care before this new policy came into effect, though I was part of the movement of foster youth organizers that pressured California to implement the law. When I graduated high school and transitioned out of my group home in Salinas, California, I was forced to learn how to create stability for myself while navigating life with trauma from abuse. To pay my bills, I would monkey branch from restaurant to restaurant while collecting financial aid from a local community college. Until I had a reliable car, I would roller skate between bus stops to get around. With so many lemon-cars on the used car market, I struggled with stable transportation to my jobs because of my lack of developed street savoir faire. Out of desperation and being in perpetual survival mode, I would meet up with random people from Craigslist and buy lemon-cars that would break down on me on my way to work. For years after I graduated from high school, my life was haunted by chronic engine overheating, debt from car repairs, and the inability to create stability in my commute to work. I would not have been able to get out of this doom-loop I put myself in without the safety net that my unofficial foster family provided for me. My unofficial foster family supported me with dawali dinners and car tows during my transition into adulthood, which counterbalanced the cynical individualism that the foster care system nurtured in me. They helped to develop in me the essential survival skill of asking for and accepting help from people. By playing this foundational role in my life, my "unofficial" foster family was part of the village that raised me while I navigated young adulthood away from my family in the Caribbean.

My unofficial foster family are Palestinian refugees, whose family was forced out of their homeland by the Israeli occupation and the dereliction of duty of the imperial powers at be. This is why the mainstream coverage and dialogue around the most recent escalation of Palestinian revolutionary forces against the Israeli Occupation, whose blatant record of human rights violations and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians has been extensively documented by non-profit outlets such as Democracy Now! over the years, is especially damaging to my mental health today.

My heart aches for our precious Palestinian brothers and sisters because they don't have the kind of capital and pull that Zionists and Israeli politicians can deploy in USAmerikkka to tip the narrative in their favor. Our precious Palestinian brothers and sisters have been forced to deal with the Israeli occupation alone as leadership from the empires actively antagonize their existences. From the blind condemnation of Hamas' resistance and support of Israeli existence at the expense of precious Palestinian lives on corporate news outlets to the victim blaming by neocon Youtube personalities, Palestinians are subjected to exceptionally dehumanizing content on the web that perpetuates a narrative that upholds their oppression. Corporate media outlets are not incentivized to perpetuate narratives that heal societal wounds and settle conflict, but instead drive wedges between our collective understanding of world events. Elevating the collective consciousness of my community is why I am learning how to communicate more effectively over the Internet with my web presence now.

I implore my community to actively seek authentic truth outside of the mainstream media outlets during this time. Tune into channels like Democracy Now! and follow Jewish voices like Joshua Hill to orient yourself to the plight of the Palestinians. It's not lost on me that after decades of violent oppression by the Israeli state, quite literally backed into a corner, revolutionary groups are resorting to violent escalations of their resistance to the unrelenting Israeli occupation. Corporations profit from sensationalizing bursts of violence like Hamas's missile launch this last weekend, with each share on social media romanticizing Hamas violence and adding more ammo to a humiliating narrative for Palestinians. How much more money have corporate media outlets made reporting on Hamas's terrorism than non-profit outlets like Democracy Now! have reporting on Shireen Abu Akleh's assassination? Like sex, violence sells, which further drive destructive narratives.

Palestinians, along with Africans, Haitians, Hawaiians, Puerto Ricans, Cubans, and all other citizens of oppressed nations in the Global South deserve better than to continue to play passive roles as pariahs on the world stage. Will the citizens of the world continue to spectate on the sidelines while the imperial powers continue to skate past their moral obligation to commit to the structural societal changes necessary to create lasting peace in the world by empowering Netanyahu to complete his genocide of the Palestinians? This is a true dereliction of authority by the imperial powers and why we should take these intimate conversations off of corporate social media and take back our means of communication. We can continue to subscribe to corporate narratives, or center those with lived experiences. Small independent blogs and news outlets capture authentic storytelling, and it's where we should direct our attention if we want to bridge our collective understandings and begin to co-create meaning in this mess.