‘I don’t want to die without seeing justice’

What the caterpillar calls
the end of the world,
the rest of the world
calls a butterfly!

Social Movements — Gender, race, class, sexuality, age
[Summary of PShift (4ZZZ fm 102.1 fri at noon) 18 Jan 2013]
Vencer (Winning) by Mestre Moraes e grupo capoeira angola pelourinho
Zumbi from A Tábua de Esmeralda by Jorge Ben Jor
“Mas Que Nada” sung by Miriam Makeba
Marisa Monte sings ‘Volte Para o Seu Lar’
other songs – not played on PShift
susana baca- el mayoral
susana baca – valentin
Mistério Do Planeta from (1972) Acabou Chorare by Novos Baianos

‘I don’t want to die without seeing justice’ — Luz Mendes from Guatemala

Guest on PShift, Laura introduces herself as being from Brazil studying gender politics and social movements. Is interested in feminism.

Intro: We both attended the Brisbane Anarchist Summer School over the weekend 12-13 Jan 2013.

After the Brisbane anarchist summer school (BASS) was over, I read the following questions discussed on fb by participants at BASS … there were about 60 comments on these questions.

I have added some questions of my own:

  1. Is my white privilege reliant on your racial oppression?
  2. Is my male privilege reliant on your female oppression?If yes we’re both left at zero
  3. What do I have to gain from your racial liberation?
  4. Does your youth oppress my age?
  5. What do you have to gain from my sexual liberation?
  6. How is our liberation bound together?
  7. Does privilege exist because of oppression?
  8. Or is there something else going on?
  9. Is the personal political?

(Please note my discussions with Laura are not word perfect, it is just what I recall we spoke about during the show)

Ian: Laura, you have brought some music from Brazil to PShift to help us address some of the questions posed above. Could you please introduce the first song?

Laura: Capoeira is a Brazilian martial art that combines elements of dance and music. It was developed in Brazil mainly by descendants of African slaves with Brazilian native influences, probably beginning in the 16th century. It is known by quick and complex moves, using mainly power, speed, and leverage for leg sweeps.

The word capoeira probably comes from the Tupi language, referring to the areas of low vegetation in the Brazilian interior.
Laura performs the dance in the studio stooping down and using leg sweeps like kick boxing. After Vencer is played Ian tells the story of a girl in a municipal library where he was doing the research about this show; the young girl wanted to get out the video about kick boxing to learn the moves. Capoeira reminds him of kick boxing that the girl so wanted to learn.

[Moraes began his training in Capoeira de Angola at the age of eight. His father was also a Capoeirista, or practitioner of Capoeira Angola, the traditional style of Capoeira in Bahia, Brazil. In 1970, Moraes left Salvador for Rio de Janeiro, he founded Grupo Capoeira Angola Pelourinho (GCAP) in 1980, and two years later he moved with his organisation back to Salvador. His aim was to return to capoeira’s philosophical bases and its African, specifically Angolan roots and believes that the source of capoeira is the n’golo, or ‘zebra dance’, a ritual combat performed by young warriors in south-western Angola – from Wikipedia]

Ian: What other songs do we have?

Laura: Zumbi [the album A Tábua De Esmeralda is a 1974 release by Brazilian artist Jorge Ben. It was ranked by Rolling Stone Brazil as the sixth greatest Brazilian album of all time, from Wikipedia] which describes Dandara who was a warrior during the black colonial period in Brazil, Zumbi dos Palmares was another warrior (Dandara’s wife and the mother of his three children). Dandara committed suicide [Feb. 6, 1694] after swearing not to return to being a slave.

Ian: In aboriginal legend there is a warrior with a similar name, called Dundali who brought together all the tribes – the Wakka Wakka, Yugerra, Bundjalung, Nunuccal, Mununjali and others to fight the colonialists. After 14 years of struggle, Dundali was hung in Post office Square in Brisbane on 3 Jan 1855. We commemorate his people’s struggle each year and the aboriginal people perform a smoking ceremony.

Community Announcements
Invasion Day 26th January, a Saturday should inform people to have a re-think about Australia Day. Convicts and indigenous people were oppressed by the coming of the colonialists. Beging at 10am at parliament house in George Street and march to Musgrave Park, Jagera Hall where all the regular cultural ceremonies will take place.

Brisbane Magistrates Court hands down the decision about bail that excludes people from Musgrave Park on Thursday 24/01/ 2013.

The decision will be handed down by Mr John Costello SM at the Brisbane Magistrates Court building on the corner of Turbot and George Streets. Look up the name of the excluded three (Wharton, Skuthorpe-Spearim, Chitts) on the law list at the entrance of the building for the court number and time or online at http://www.courts.qld.gov.au/__external/CourtsLawList/BrisbaneMagCourt.pdf on that morning.

Laura addresses the question: “Does privilege exist because of oppression?”
For change to occur we need to give up some of our privilege and only by doing that can oppression stop.

Ian: There are structural reasons in society why oppression exists – these relate to capitalism and greed, consumerism, right?

Laura talks about institutions that perpetuate oppression and discusses the meaning of the next song “Mas Que Nada” which is a Samba also banned by the colonialists and practiced by slaves as a defiance against the colonial masters. It refers to the harvest of the sugar cane by black workers. Laura talks about the Rural Workers Movement in Brazil (MST)
Ian refers to books that address the questions posed: Plight of Guatemalan women[1] by Luz Mendes who won a nobel prize for her work in Guatemala.

Laura explains the lyrics that are telling the ‘gringo’ to get out of their lives and off their lands,  that indigenous lives are not in one direction, they involve many things where the winds give their direction.

Go Back to Your Home

Here in this house nobody wants your politeness
On the days when there’s food, we eat it with our hand
And when the police, the disease, the distance or any discussion
Separate us from a brother
We feel that heartaches never stop fitting into our hearts
But we don’t cry in vain
We don’t cry in vain

Here on this tribe nobody wants your catechization
We speak your language but we don’t get your point
We laugh out loud, we drink and we curse people
But we don’t smile in vain
We don’t smile in vain

Here on this boat nobody wants your guidance
We have no perspective, but the wind gives us guidance
Life that goes adrift is our conduction
But we don’t walk in vain
We don’t walk in vain

Go back to your home
Go back there.

So what are the conclusions from this discussion (if any).

That our liberation is tied up with the liberation of those oppressed. Oppression takes various forms and we must be mindful of diversity and difference. Somehow these struggles must come together to combat the structural nature of the oppressor.

laura argued that the personal is political because of the connectedness of the oppressed, the oppressor and the liberated (i’m not sure  this summarizes what l said].

Or to quote from fb [not broadcast]

“we are both oppressed in terms of class, and that’s where we should focus (while also being aware of each other’s certain circumstances … yes people are more/less privileged, like on a continuum. but if we look at ourselves and see our own circumstances in terms of each element i.e. gender, race, class, sexuality, age etc i think we can all find points of privilege and points of oppression. in this way i think we can understand each other, and i think our cooperation can be built most fruitfully on our understanding of each other’s oppression (vis a vis structures/institutions of oppression) ”

[thnx to the participants  of the fb discussion e, j, w and to l, the guest on PShift for bringing the music and explaining the songs).

Upcoming PShifts (from BASS sound recording):

  1. Australian Capitalism and the Crisis – from Dave E’s talk at BASS
  2. Anarchism and Feminism – discussion circle
  3. Anarchist Women – Erst
  4. Self Management Group – Tim B
  5. What is Anarchism? – plenary session at BASS
  6. Alternative Technology and sustainable future – Trevor B

References: Social Movements in Brazil by Reinaldo Fleuri

Click to enlarge


[1] Plight of Guatemalan women by Luz Mendes
The tragedy for the group of q´eqchí women began in August of 1982 in Guatemala. Their husbands were captured illegally by soldiers and local landowners, then later assassinated or forcibly disappeared. They were peasant leaders, who were seeking open and legal land titles for land they had lived on for generations.
After torturing and murdering their husbands, the soldiers burned their houses and their few belongings. One of the women testifying narrated how she and her young children had to live outdoors for more than a year, covered only by pieces of nylon hung from a tree.
The same day that their husbands were captured, the soldiers raped the women in their own homes, in front of their sons and daughters. Later, they were submitted to sexual slavery and domestic slavery in the military camp for six months. The lieutenant in charge of the base ordered that they organize “women shifts”, through which the women were obliged to report to the military encampment every three days where they were submitted to sexual and domestic slavery. The soldiers raped the women systematically and multiply. Moreover, the women were forced to cook and wash the soldiers’ uniforms.

Please comment down below