Urbancentrism

“For me, there is a social disease that, I do not know if it is identified by science as “official” but, I usually call URBANCENTRISM. It prevents people from seeing beyond the structure of large cities, as if there was a huge dome around the metropolis that prevents access to other places, or that transforms other places into utopias disconnected from reality which can be accessed only from time to time in dreams”

From InfoGuerra

English Translation here.

ITACIRA-12-JUL-FB-2

Urbanocentrismo

Pra quem nasceu e cresceu na metrópole é bem comum a convivência com uma gigantesca diversidade e interatividade entre culturas e com uma vasta disponibilidade de informação circulando das mais diversas formas, assim como a rápida transformação dos costumes, das tecnologias, das ruas…

Pra quem nasceu e cresceu, e que veio ou vive nos interiores em que a urbanização não é tão latente, tudo isso é muito mais difícil de ser acessado, conquistado e assimilado. É por isso que damos tanto valor à coisas que pra muitas pessoas parecem ser minúsculas ou ridículas e que pra nós são grandiosas. Para os meus antepassados, a contemplação é algo fundamental e a fugacidade, a velocidade com a qual as coisas se desmancham na metrópole, muitas vezes é aterrorizadora. A valorização do que é construído de forma lenta, mas “bem feita”, observando os mínimos detalhes é muito mais importante do que se entupir de mil tarefas e informações e não conseguir dar conta de tudo. O que inclusive é fonte de diversas doenças modernas.

Para as migrantes e para os migrantes que vêm de uma realidade pobre do interior, a discriminação contra seus costumes, sotaque, cor, vestimenta, pensamentos e práticas é uma ameaça constante. Mas como a maioria se arrisca na Babilônia sem ter respaldo de alguém que pode fortalecer quando o bicho pega, acabam aprendendo à gingar, à dissimular, à jogar com essas discriminações, se adaptando ao que a nova realidade pede. Muitas e muitos acabam abandonando seus costumes com o passar do tempo e recarregam suas antigas práticas ao se reencontrarem com outras e outros migrantes. Outras e outros carregam consigo a melancolia somada com a sensação de derrota por não conseguir retornar pra casa com a missão cumprida e com a conquista nas mãos. Muitas e muitos acabam indo morar nas ruas, por falta de assistência. Muitas e muitos morrem, assassinados por uma violência urbana ao qual não estão acostumadxs. Algumas e alguns conseguem alcançar lugares de prestígio e experimentar e compartilhar privilégios já com a meia idade chegando, depois de terem doado toda uma vida de sangue e suor e comprometido todas as suas economias em parcelamentos extensos que lá na frente se tornam as dívidas que, se não houver cuidado, levam à falência.

Sinceramente, eu não conheço nenhuma família que veio de onde eu vim e de outros interiores que conheci que não tenham um histórico de batalha e sobrevivência em condições extremas e mantenho um pensamento de revolta e combate contra a discriminação direcionada à essas pessoas que são invisibilizadas no cotidiano da metrópole.

Pra mim, existe uma doença social que eu não sei se é identificada pela ciência tida como “oficial”, mas que eu costumo chamar de URBANOCENTRISMO, que impede as pessoas de conseguirem enxergar para além da estrutura das grandes cidades, como se houvesse uma enorme redoma ao redor da metrópole que impedisse o acesso a outros lugares ou que transformasse os outros lugares em utopias desconectadas da realidade e que só podem ser acessadas de vez em quando nos sonhos. Sonhos estes que dão origem às máfias turísticas que fazem das paisagens dos interiores um produto de consumo acessível para quem tem muita grana. Sonhos estes que transformam as nascentes dos rios em poços de veneno e chorume despejado pelo agronegócio que abastece a metrópole. Sonhos estes que escravizam a mão de obra de meus manos que tão disputando uma diária de pouco mais de 30 conto no monopólio da banana que abastece a metrópole, fazendo serviço triplo: batendo veneno, cortando cachos maduros e transportando até os caminhões.

Eu sou migrante e também sofro com as sequelas causadas pelo urbanocentrismo. Uma vez um mano me disse que “o conhecimento é extremamente importante, mas nós precisamos ter cuidado pra não viajar demais nas idéias e esquecer de nossas raízes”. Infelizmente, de alguma forma, também sou infectado por esta doença. Mas não posso deixar que ela tome meu corpo e minha mente por completo. Pra isso preciso manter meus pés no chão, próximos às minhas raízes. Sempre em contato com quem também é migrante, com quem veio e com quem vive na mesma realidade da qual eu vim. E mais do que isso, observar, estudar e tentar compreender a estrutura de dominação que força minhas conterrâneas e conterrâneos à abandonarem seu local de origem. Observar, estudar e tentar compreender a história e a ancestralidade dos lugares e das pessoas que me ensinaram à caminhar e a lutar por minha vida.


ZAT Cinzenta

Editora/produtora independente e selo de divulgação/distribuição de material subterrâneo e libertário.


Translation

ITACIRA-12-JUL-FB-2

Urbancentrism

For those born and raised in the metropolis, it is very common to live with huge diversity and interaction between cultures, with vast availability of information circulating in the most diverse ways, as well as the rapid transformation of behaviors, technologies, streets…

For those born and raised, and who came or live in the inland where urbanization is not so latent, all of this is much more difficult to be accessed, conquered, and assimilated. That’s why we give so much value to things that to many people seem to be tiny or ridiculous; for us they are great. For my ancestors, contemplation is fundamental, and fugacity, the speed with which things break down in the metropolis, is often terrifying. Valuing what is built slowly but “well,” observing the smallest details is far more important than clogging up a thousand tasks and information and failing to account for everything. This is also the source of several modern diseases.

For migrants who come from poor conditions inland [into the city], discrimination against their customs, accent, color, dress, thoughts, and practices is a constant threat. But as most take a chance in Babylon without having the backing of someone for support when things get rough, they learn to dribble, to dissemble, to play with these discriminations, adapting to what the new reality demands. Many end up abandoning their customs over time and recharging their old practices by rejoining other migrants.

Others carry with them melancholy of defeat for not being able to return home with the mission accomplished, and the conquest in hand. Many end up living on the streets for lack of assistance. Many die, killed by urban violence to which they are not accustomed.

Some manage to reach places of prestige and experience, and share privileges with middle age already arriving, after having donated a whole life of blood and sweat, and having compromised all their earnings in extensive installments, that in the end become the debts, that, if not careful, lead to bankruptcy.

Honestly, I don’t know of any family that came from where I came from, or other cities inland, that do not have a history of battle and survival in extreme conditions, and I maintain a revolt and anti-discrimination thought directed at those people who are invisible in the metropolis.

For me, there is a social disease that, I do not know if it is identified by science as “official” but, I usually call Urbancentrism. It prevents people from seeing beyond the structure of large cities, as if there was a huge dome around the metropolis that prevents access to other places, or that transforms other places into utopias disconnected from reality which can be accessed only from time to time in dreams. These dreams give rise to the tourist mafias that make the landscapes of the inland an affordable product for those who have a lot of money. These dreams turn the rivers’ springs into poison and sludge wells dumped by the agribusiness that supplies the metropolis. These dreams enslave the workmanship of my hands, that compete for a little more than 10 bucks (30 reais) daily in the Banana Monopoly that supplies the metropolis, doing triple service: surviving poison, cutting ripe chunks, and transporting to the trucks.

I’m a migrant and I also suffer from the consequences caused by Urbancentrism. Once a buddy told me that “knowledge is extremely important, but we must be careful not to travel too much in ideas and forget our roots.” Unfortunately, somehow, I am also infected by this disease. But I can not let her take my body and my mind completely. For this I need to keep my feet on the ground, close to my roots. Always in contact with who is also a migrant, with whom they came and with whom they live in the same reality from which I came. And more than that, to observe, to study, and to try to understand the structure of domination that forces my countrymen and women to leave their place of origin. Observe, study and try to understand the history and ancestry of places and people who taught me to walk and fight for my life.


InfoGuerra


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How to Be a Trans Writer in the Era of Never-Ending Gender Wars

“To write is to claim the audacity to speak and the courage to yield, to dare for a moment to care for ourselves in speech, in writing, and in solitude.”

From Pat Mosley

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First things first, accept that everything you say or don’t say is wrong, too late, not enough, not relevant.

If you’re lucky enough to land an actual writing gig somewhere, disregard all indications of friendships initiated by your editors. Accept that you are filling a role, whether anyone will admit it or not. Your role is to be as trans as possible. And if you’re writing for a site owned by right-wing Christians, accept the impossible challenge that you must be both trans enough to make your owners look liberal, but not so trans as to make anyone uncomfortable by calling out their corporate affiliates.

Inevitably, you’ll fail and get booted. But don’t worry because everyone will be too busy blaming John Halstead to notice. You’ll find other gigs and they’ll publish you as long as it’s clear that you’re a trans writer, never just a writer, never permitted to be neutral in matters of being categorized-other.

You can write about bathroom bills, but not capitalism. Gender, but not climate change. Discrimination, but not civilization. Feelings, but never theory.

You will be an identity from now on, not a human being. You will be the trans writer, not the writer who likes to forage, the writer who likes to weave, or the writer who has suffered from depression for half their life so far and tried to off themselves more recently than anyone is comfortable with.

You will be trans, and trans alone, but never trans enough. In a crushed velvet dress, drawing Inanna down from the heavens while serving vintage witchy woman realness, it will still be a surprise, a gag, not real, not enough. Hunty.

Naked and in bed with your next lover, it’ll all seem like a far-off dream. But you’ll have internalized it—who could love you? Who could touch this body for pleasure? You’ll fight about gender, because of course you will. Of course this world must be material, not ecstatic, labeled, territories and border walls, from Palestine to monogamy, to our thighs touching and my eyes shut tight, trying.

The crackle of your laughter can light up a room, but in the digital world, you’ll be a howl on the wind of Earth’s darkest nights, a shot of pain, an assemblage of social realities, flattened, fixed in place.

Readers will mince your words, pulling apart some string of pronouns and ambiguity to determine which gender when and which gender now. Readers will gauge your truth, scrutinizing a filtered two-dimensional profile picture for their reality of who they know you must actually be. More will be gleaned about your life by your readers than you will ever have the platform to publish or the privilege to even draft.

Constantly outed, no consequence considered. Constantly demanded, no aftermath concerning. Singular. One-dimensional identity. Constantly roped back and down to your trauma, the trauma, of which you are never an adequate martyr.

You aren’t a storyteller. This isn’t the Stone Age. It’s 2018 and you produce content to be consumed, discarded. No one gives a fuck about your life, your interests, your passions, your growth. A few times a year, some well-established Pagan woman somewhere will dare to speak her mind, and then all of the sudden, you’ll matter again. Except you won’t. Your labor will.

The thing about writing is that there is never any way to be right. There is no correct way to write about trans issues. If trans people do it, always-helpful readers will chastise cis people for not stepping up and collecting their people. If cis people dare exit their lanes and write something, readers will complain that trans voices should be amplified! Centered! Yes! Rip us into the spotlight—we have no lives of value to protect, no agency in determining whether something necessitates a response, no worth beyond a good retort we haven’t typed out a thousand times already. This time it will matter, surely. Five more likes and shares and the Goddess will grant us a miracle!

To write about trans issues is to subject yourself to a full-on public examination of your gender, a scrutiny of your public presence, and a tallying of all the ways you are male, you are female, you are mad, angry, fossilized, and archaic. All of this—the scales for determining the value of your voice.

And why? Why is it always our voices? Why is it never allowed to be our bodies? Our minds? Our health? Our lives? Dare we ever get to judge a political theorist on the quality of their theories more than the sensationalism of their trauma?

To write is to trespass a thousand million unspoken, presumed laws we will never know of until it is already too late. To write is to claim the audacity to speak and the courage to yield, to dare for a moment to care for ourselves in speech, in writing, and in solitude. And for these sins, every fiber of our existence will still be determined wrong in some new, pseudo-nuanced way.

We are disposable conveniences to you.

Nearly one hundred thousand people read an article I published a couple years ago. Yet not one person is ever within reach when I plunge into the depths of depression and existential horror. Where are you, dear readers? Who are you to make any demands of me or anyone mantled by any identity?

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I know you aren’t my allies. I dare to proclaim you aren’t my community either.

You don’t want resolution, you don’t want healing.

You want blood. You want a fight.

You want rape and slow, brutal, verbal murder. You want the chance to scavenge our still-breathing corpses for every wrong word, wrong deed, and wrong idea. You want to choke out the life of young trans people, filling their heads with fake statistics about their alleged lifespan until they succumb to a suicide you can count with glory in your spectator martyrdom. You want to keep repeating that bullshit no matter how many times it is explained to you that it is wrong. You want to silence whatever anarchic spirit rises contrary to your pleasure, your comfort, your conceptualization of us, the writers, givers, power-shakers, the disabled, the whores, the mad.

You are insatiable.

And in your demand, there is no liberation. There is no break from the trauma in your consumption of us. We will perpetually be rape victims and sex workers, permitted only ever to be destitute survivors or proudly empowered feminists in this trade, never trafficked, never coerced, never self-hating, never grown-up traumatized children working through toxic relationships to sexuality and capitalism. For the duration of a Facebook thread or a five minute speech at your weekend rally, we will be fabulous and stunningly feminine, brave and on brand, centered and amplified, righteous and fuming—or we will be no one remotely of value. Never are we allowed to heal, to not care, to decline, to merge with the Ohr Ein Sof, to love drag culture, to just move on or dare to politic differently.

Your concern for trans people is limited to an abstract rendering of our lives into a consumable text format or sound bit for you to like and share and boldly critique without ever having to consider the author as a human being who breaks, who cries, who has limits, who has boundaries.

You are a hammer. You demand a nail. You demand to crucify.

You don’t want to hear trans voices. You want to hear yourself echoed and applauded in a lifeless metaphor embodied by a trans person you couldn’t give two shits about.

You want to share a witty piece about emotional labor, but you wouldn’t dare interrogate your own unceasing demands for it.

You want to conjure us out like personal Jesus goddesses every time there’s a conflict in the community, as if our whole lives begin with every moment you need us.

You want another battle royale, angry dykes vs. angry trannies, angry feminism, blood and hormones, a performance for your entertainment and never our own resolution. I think it was Utah Phillips who asked Ani Difranco why don’t you write angry feminist songs anymore?

You want to catalogue our identities so you can catalogue our sins.

You want clearly MALE or clearly FEMALE, clearly CIS or clearly TRANS, because you still cannot handle the glorious, radiant biology of intersexuality, the sex of angels, the holy mystery of ambiguity and the tidal movement of life between continental bodies in a shimmering ocean.

God/dess bless you. Bless all your hearts.

I am finished anchoring my politics in the trauma of my identities for the sake of people other than the fiery spirit within my own heart. I am finished being called up like an enslaved Goetic daemon to pen whatever it is the readers demand to dictate this time.
I am not going to identify myself for you anymore.

WO/MAN HAS THE RIGHT TO WRITE WHAT S/HE WILL.


Pat Mosley

smallerbio.jpgPat Mosley is a bodyworker and writer based in the Carolina Piedmont. His work is rooted in compassionate touch, permaculture, and deep ecology with the resilience of all Earth’s children in mind. Connect with him at
https://www.pat-mosley.com/


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Outlaw Women

The following article contains descriptions of severe abuse. I do not take the decision to publish this information lightly. The woman who shared her story want’s to denounce the system and believes that exposing this reality is the best way to ensure this abuse ends once and for all. On the other hand, I understand that this information can be emotionally unhealthy for some of our readers, so please consider this trigger warning before continuing, or consider skipping the signaled paragraph.

“if Rights were ensured to everyone, the Government would have to become something else entirely. It would have to cease to be.”

From Mirna Wabi-Sabi

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Sunday afternoon, 6 people, some of which had never met each other before, are at the beach drinking beer, playing Frescobol and talking. One of the women starts talking about how annoying it is when her neighbors blast music, and how the Law that forbids this behavior should be enough to have these people behave respectfully. A whiter tattooed woman disagrees, saying that the Law isn’t necessary in these situations and does more damage than good. She recites Anarchist slogans comfortably: “The Law does not protect people, it oppresses the vast majority, and is imposed unequally on the population. The Law is only there to protect the interests of the Elite!”. Then a young factory worker, with militant communist affiliations and a cigarette, responds by saying that some laws are important to protect the rights of workers like him.

Then Nina speaks. The more words come out, the more intense her trembling becomes, and the bigger the tears rolling down her face.

The following paragraph bears a Trigger Warning: sexual abuse.

Nina is a mother of three, but her petite young body does not show it. She was 2 months pregnant when she was arrested and raped by police officers. She gave birth in prison and witnessed the abuse of many other women. Every night they worried about who would be next. Some cases were even worse than hers, such as the woman violated with a broom handle who came back bleeding. Even after reporting the incident to the judge and being sent to the doctor for tests, her abusers remain unpunished.

“I feel dirty, like I’m garbage” she said while hugging herself. There are not enough blankets, hugs, and words like “No, they are garbage. They are filthy garbage, not you” to make this trembling go away. She knows all of their names and is not afraid to report it, even if it means putting her life at risk.

She had tuberculosis, and ate horribly: Frozen meat, spoiled food, and lack of water. Officers claimed their budget was 2 thousand Reais per inmate, and Nina affirms that there is absolutely no way this money was actually getting to them. Reporting corruption is important, but it’s also important to stress that focusing on improving the system is pointless. There is no use in asking to be protected by a system that is created and sustained by people whose interests depend on keeping women like her dehumanized and with the lowest level of self-esteem.

When her daughter was molested, she took the law into her own hands, because she knew that the judicial system is not there to protect her rights. It is there to criminalize dissent likely to undermine the Government’s ability to function. Operating outside of the law is the way to combat the injustices perpetrated by the rule of law, to undermine the government’s ability to function (in the interests of the few), and to seize control of our own lives.

There is no better way to sustain rule of law, and the government’s ability to function, than to convince poor people they don’t deserve rights, that they don’t deserve protection. That’s because if rights were ensured to everyone, the Government would have to become something else entirely. It would have to cease to be.

For example, the right wing founder of the NGO Turning Point USA said: “You really think Rosa Parks was a hero? I guess you forgot that she is famous for breaking the law.” You would think that this proud white U.S. American reveres the constitution to such an extent that he believes there is no excuse to break the law, even when for a righteous cause. That’s not the case, because even he broke the law when his NGO endorsed republican politicians and shared personal information of its members with conservative campaigners.

What is the fundamental difference between Rosa Parks breaking the law, and this generic conservative white guy breaking the law? One broke the law in an attempt to undermine the government’s ability to function, and the other broke the law to protect the government’s ability to function. Institutional racism is an indispensable tool to make government function feasible. How? Borders, economic exploitation of “Developing” non-white countries, the for-profit prison system, the unpunished liquidation of the marginalized contingent of the population, and so on. This is the distinction between crimes you can get away with, and crimes you cannot.

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The crime women are most arrested for is drug trafficking. First of all, in Brazil, the line between a user and a trafficker is determined by judges, not by quantity. They claim that otherwise dealers will use this “ceiling” to skirt the law. In practice, this is used to criminalize people who they don’t believe can afford to use without selling: a criminalization of poverty. Our previous Minister of Justice has even admitted that distinguishing between a potential criminal and an innocent citizen is done by “looking at the person’s eyes“, which basically means a wide range of potential for discrimination based on race, class and gender.

Second of all, let’s ask ourselves why trafficking drugs is illegal in the first place. Drug trafficking is considered a danger to public health, like toxic chemicals in food, cosmetics, or air and water pollution. While some industries destroy the planet and our bodies with impunity, “drug” users and low level distributors are doing time in double digits (in a judicial system that not for a moment questions what really leads to addiction).

Volkswagen can cheat on their emission tests and get away with it with a relative slap on the wrist. Why? Because their crime was an attempt to sustain the fragile capitalist economy, which is crucial in keeping the government’s engine running smoothly. A Volkswagen executive has spent less time behind bars than a protester arrested for carrying two bottles of cleaning products (Schmidt got 40 months of supervised release while Rafael Braga got a proper 5 years, and a month in solitary confinement). Drug trafficking, much like protesting, is not there to benefit the government. It is an industry that sustains the sovereignty of the community the government treats as excess contingent.

The sovereignty of the ghetto is a massive threat to the status quo- to the state. Organized crime might be big enough to negotiate with the state, but the massive numbers of people doing time are those who benefit the least from being on either side of the negotiating table.

Nina’s battered self esteem is in the best interest of the government, because were she to have the will and resources to build sovereignty, she would use it to make the system that sought to destroy her and her family obsolete. Does anyone really think that if she suggests ways for the system to improve and says “please” that anyone will comply? Expecting her to beg is only a perpetuation of the abuse. We must cheer her courage to rise and resist, and never again demand obedience.

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Mirna Wabi-Sabi

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is co-editor of Gods&Radicals, and writes about decoloniality and anti-capitalism.


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This is America’s Enslaver Culture

It’s no surprise that, even though chattel slavery was formally abolished throughout the Americas over 100 years ago, enslaver culture is still very much alive.

From Mirna Wabi-Sabi

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There are about 30 million pets abandoned in the streets of Brazil. Cats in particular are treated as a plague, killed and tortured indiscriminately.

Helping take care of street cats has been my way of dealing with the occasional helplessness many of us activists feel. I can’t always stop an armed policeman from telling a Candomblé worshiper dressed in white to lay on the floor with hands on the head for no reason. I can’t always stop a pack of drunk men desperate to prove their masculinity to each other from violating a trans woman on the street. But one thing I can do is clean the eyes of motherless kitties so they can see for the first time.

This coping mechanism recently lost its effectiveness when the dynamic at the cat shelter revealed a serious political issue: Enslaver culture.

It’s no surprise, even though chattel slavery was formally abolished throughout the Americas over 100 years ago, that enslaver culture is still very much alive. One example of this is the donor/volunteer relationship.

When I go to the shelter, once a week, I clean, feed and give medicine to cats. I’m a light skinned Latina, with a job and a house, so I’m considered a volunteer. People with means in the group donate a little money to buy whatever is needed, and there is also lunch for whoever is working.

For years, one young homeless black man goes there everyday, twice a day, to clean, feed, medicate, and build little houses for the cats. He even monitors who is coming to abandon and who is coming to adopt. In my eyes, he is the boss of the operation. To the donors, however, he’s a lazy employee.

When I receive lunch, it’s a donation. When he receives lunch, it’s a salary.

One of the donors had an abandoned house, and decided to allow the homeless young man to stay there. This gesture turns out not to be as generous as it sounds. He has the responsibility to renovate and maintain the home (which is in poor condition), and he takes dozens of the most vulnerable cats home with him to care for overnight. Now that donors offer him food and shelter, they feel even more entitled to demand more labor, and the laborer is dependent while earning no wages.

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Land demarcation efforts by Quilombo Quingoma

It’s hard not to see the connection between this situation and our colonial history. Salvador, as the world’s capital of the African diaspora, is the land on which to witness, not the demise but, the development of colonialism and its deeply rooted white supremacy. Here, much of what is now urban residence used to be Quilombos.

Quilombos were communities formed by enslaved Africans who ran away. They were highly organized, militant, autonomous, and posed great threat to the Portuguese and Dutch authorities of the time. Today, there are much more than a million Quilombolas still fighting for their right to territory throughout the country.

Records show that there were compliant enslaved people who had stable relationships with their owners and did not want to join Quilombos. Some claim that abolishing slavery left the “freed” in worse conditions: “jobless”, homeless, and helpless (as some may say about my friend at the cat shelter). How reliable are these accounts? Not very, since those who kept records were the ones interested in using them for their advantage.

Arguments on the subject in literature in general have little empirical basis and tend to focus on the interplay of interests that would be associated with the diffusion of that interpretation. Several authors have considered the thesis of benignity a mere expression of the ideology of the ruling classes in the nineteenth century; its dissemination, especially abroad, would be part of the imperial government’s efforts to disseminate an amicable image of slavery and thereby oppose the abolitionist movement.

Flávio Rabelo Versiani (Economist, Brasilia) comparing enslavement in the U.S. and in Brazil.

On the other hand, in economic terms, not using “coercive force” (meaning, here we didn’t have as many lynchings) was a matter of efficiency, as was eventually abolishing slavery altogether. So, using words like “amicable” and “benign” to describe displacement, dehumanization, forced labor, murder and torture of black people is only considered empirical when described in economic terms. This, to me, is one good example of the rotten core of Academia.

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Today, some academics use this shaky empiricism to argue that the resistance against slavery was hypocritical. José de Souza Martins, one of Brazil’s most famous sociologists, claims there was slavery in the Quilombos. Dissociating the term “slavery” from “race” became his professional mission; white supremacy wasn’t the problem, according to him, rigidly stratified societies were.

His broad use of the term “slavery” can be compared to the broad use of the term “Nazi” when describing a feminist. José Martins says that because of the spread of “Islamism” in Africa, Africans enslaved themselves at a much higher rate than the Slave trade to the Americas, and that Islamic polygamy is also a form of slavery. The fact that he uses the term “Islamist” as synonymous with “Islamic” speaks volumes to the racial insensitivity of his rhetoric. But his use of biased (white) “empirical” evidence to delegitimize an organized resistance movement of the African Diaspora speaks even louder.

There is little denying that hierarchy existed in Quilombos, and that they used violence against enslaved people who chose to stay with their white masters. We have to understand that they were at war, and the decision to be compliant turned them into an enemy. So much so, that those compliant Africans were sent to the Quilombos as an army to defeat Quilombists. This practice hasn’t stopped, and is perpetuated by the military police force to this day.

Zumbi‘s opposition to Ganga Zumba, and the consequent shift of leadership at Quilombo dos Palmares, is symbolic of all anti-colonial resistance because it was a refusal to submit to Colonial authorities, and a declaration that no enslaved African would be free until all would be free. This fight is not over yet. There is still enslavement, displacement, incarceration, genocide, and struggle for land demarcation. We must acknowledge that, because not picking a side, being compliant, is in fact siding with white supremacist forces.


Mirna Wabi-Sabi

23844610_10155972276622372_5754996345436383112_n

is co-editor of Gods&Radicals, and writes about decoloniality and anti-capitalism.


Please help us pay our writers by donating a few dollars to us. And thanks!

It takes a village, not a European, to raise a child

“White people, through systematic oppression, actively create, profit from and maintain a market that institutionalises children throughout Africa.”

From Jacqueline Tizora

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Ethiopia announced earlier this year that it has decided to ban foreign adoption on its soil. This is a brazen move, especially because the country was the second most popular country, after China, for adoptions. This decision was prompted by a high-profile case of abuse in 2011 where an adoptee died of hypothermia after being left in the cold by their adoptive parents in Seattle. Ethiopia, following this incident, proceeded to make the adoption process more stringent, which has now ultimately culminated in the total ban we see today.

The government’s motivation for this bold decision is that it believes Ethiopians taking care care of their own as a valid possibility. Furthermore, policy makers are only now wary of the permanent psychological effects any trauma faced abroad could have on the children. Ethiopia’s stance on adoption shares parallels with Rwanda’s model on orphanages. African countries’ shift towards deinstitutionalising childcare is a welcome process as it is severs the parasitic colonial as well as neocolonial relationship Europe has with Africa. The process, however, is an intricate one that this article will be illuminating a small fraction of.

In 2012, Rwanda decided to close all its orphanages. After the 1994 genocide, the number of orphanages skyrocketed from four to well over thirty as more than 95 000 children were orphaned by the genocide. Foreign aid organisations in response to the devastation of the genocide, opened institutions across the country, institutionalising Rwandan childcare. However, Rwandan president Paul Kagame noticed that those orphaned by the genocide had ‘outgrown’ orphanages, yet they still existed. This is when Kagame initiated a rehoming process. This decision was based on the Swahili saying, ‘asiye funzwa na mamae hufunzwa na ulimwengu’- a deinstitutionalised approach to childcare, which equates to the infamous proverb ‘it takes a village to raise a child’.

Rwanda’s rehoming process is now in full swing and the government aims to close all orphanages by 2020. Rwanda’s National Commission for Children’s director reported earlier this year that 3,323 children were in orphanages when the initiative took off in 2012, and now only 235 have yet to be rehomed with family, adopted or placed in foster families (unremunerated).

Then there are countries like Mauritania, Djibouti and South Sudan where in order to qualify to be a legal guardian of a minor, the applicant has to be a blood relative that is either Muslim and or lives in a Muslim environment. Prioritising the child’s religion here results in some preservation of the child’s culture. In addition, Mauritanian law prohibits non-family members from leaving Mauritania with adopted children. Similarly, in Djibouti, children with Djibouti citizenship are ineligible for adoption. Implying that transnational adoption from these two countries is not a possibility, even if one meets the first two criteria.

From the above examples, it is clear that many African countries are in fact deinstitutionalising childcare, a previously heavily institutionalised system and reverting to more culturally appropriate alternatives to child rearing. This, however, prompts one to question what in fact has changed along with the implementation of these new regulations and, ultimately, how this is affecting orphans in their respective countries. Coming from a family where the ‘village’ approach is adopted vastly, and also understanding that for most households, taking on an extra mouth to feed is no easy task. It also prompts one to enquire which changes need to be made that would effectively allow orphaned children to continue on to lead a normal life after losing one’s biological parents.

The first enquiry that comes to mind is the process of conception right to birth. We live in a patriarchal society that polices women’s bodies and also places value in women’s fertility. Rape culture is also ever pervasive; the fact that only in 1993 did the UN declare rape a war crime, demonstrates how deeply politicised women’s bodies are. Additionally, access to contraception in Africa, according to WHO in 2015, is only 33.4%. So almost 70% of the continent cannot implement effective family planning. The intersections of institutional restrictions that meet systematic poverty introduced by colonialism and maintained by neo-colonialism has rendered African women voiceless on issues regarding their own bodies!

In essence, policies that currently police and politicise women’s bodies and subjects them to systematic oppression and trauma has created irreparable damage and play a key role in the current vicious cycle of systematically creating orphans. Orphaned children, of course, come from somewhere. The responsibility or blame does not fall on the woman, but society has socialised us to internalise gender roles that further subjugate us. By politicising our bodies, even the unborn children our bodies can host preside over our bodies. The fact that approximately 93% of women of reproductive age in Africa live in countries with laws that in some way restrict abortion shed illuminate another way orphans are produced systematically. Additionally, even in countries where abortions may take place under special circumstances, very few women have access to a safe procedure and often seek out more clandestine methods that can be life-threatening.

The second enquiry regards the fact that the implicit and explicit bans disallowing women to have autonomy over their bodies have not been lifted. What then of the children that are born as as result? The inescapable reality of women being treated as chattel on one hand, and the rise of the white saviour industrial complex on the rise on the other, only means that there will always be orphans and therefore a market for foreign adoption and orphanages. An estimated 21.6 million unintended pregnancies occur each year in Africa, and of these, only 38% end in abortion. To white liberals all these statistics mean is that there is a market to exploit and therefore ceaseless giving back for them to do in Africa. This is a crass mentality and approach that does not even scratch the surface of the issue that they created. If only they could put two and two together, they would realise it equals white supremacist capitalist patriarchy- that they introduced to the continent and that has now politicised and othered the bodies of black women, giving birth to the issues we are faced with today.

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Personally, I’m of the opinion that uprooting children from their home country, with the exception of abuse, is not in the child’s best interest as the grass is not actually greener in Europe. Uganda’s first lady, Janet Museveni, in a keynote address made her case regarding transnational adoption. Her stance is that transnational adoption, specifically the Africa to Europe pipeline, can be likened to the slave trade. To a large extent, I agree with this statement. Also interesting to note the countries from which most adoptions hail from have the biggest legacies of atrocities inflicted on African people. So, it would appear that white people employ the saviour complex and adopt African children to ease their white guilt. Not only do they rid themselves of dissonance permanently, adopted children ultimately serve as a trophy of their colourblindness and apparent non-racism. A buy-one-get-one-free coupon white people redeem when they engage in transnational adoption (read institutional abduction).

Realistically, if we are going to look after our own children, there is going to have to be reform. Expecting the burden to fall on family members or communities whose consumption increases exponentially the minute they agree to become a child’s guardian. Without assistance from government, this only translates itself into deeper poverty. Though orphanages and adoption organisations came into existence to alleviate the aftermath of centuries of dispossession, research has shown that growing up in orphanages can have lasting negative impact on children.

Through extensive research, risk patterns and vulnerabilities have been identified, now all that is lacking is their amelioration and this can be done through policy. Interventions need to happen on multiple levels, this includes and is not restricted to: the orphans, fostering households as well as their communities. Not all vulnerable children share the same history or even face the same issues despite sharing the same label: being orphan. These considerations all require differentiated policy responses. These then differ further, according to geography for example. Different regions are exposed to different forms of vulnerability. The AIDS pandemic in Southern Africa, Swaziland being the most hard-hit, requires a response that includes better access to ARVs and promotions aimed at deconstructing the stigma around the illness- another barrier that stops people from seeking treatment even when ARVs are made available. As a result of inadequate intervention, AIDS has become responsible for the swelling numbers of orphans in the region. The logical questions that then follow are the financing of such interventions as well as their rolling out: both of crucial importance.

A needs analysis needs to be conducted for all concerned parties: the orphan, the fostering household and communities, mapping out the levels on which the interventions need to take place within. Lastly, we need to consider how the intervention should play out and which funding channels are feasible. For example, whether a uniform/needs equivalent grant system needs to be introduced. Just by highlighting the first steps that need to be taken, one soon realises that differentiated policy responses required are dependent on so many factors that are, above all, culturally sensitive and appropriate.

White people, through systematic oppression, actively create, profit from and maintain a market that institutionalises children throughout Africa. They currently plunder Africa by opening NGOs, orphanages and, a personal favourite, voyeuristic volunteer agencies that we actually fund with photos they take of us for free to be used for their poverty porn PR strategies. Europe remains benefactors in this market with these photos, by reproducing the colonial narrative that any European can save this godforsaken continent. This is both short sighted and pompous. There is, however, a way Europe can acknowledge and settle their long outstanding debt to Africa and also upend their current and futile methods: reparations.

This is not even a foreign concept to Europeans, after all they paid slave owners out after the abolition of slavery. Slaves, like those in the Haitian Revolution, even had to pay for the inconvenience abolition caused.

Whilst no amount of financial compensation can ameliorate the impact of the violence inflicted on Africa. The institutionalisation abduction of children through transnational is a clear indication that Africans are still being removed from their country’s hundreds of years after the abolition of slavery, a symptom of neo-colonialism that continues to illicitly extract resources and abduct children for the enjoyment of the west. To sever this umbilical cord a fresh start is needed, which in this case would mean total economic freedom to enable Africa to restore its idiosyncratic deinstitutionalised approach to childcare.


Jacqueline Tizora

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Zimbabwean born and South African bred Black radical
feminist with a keen interest in African feminist thought and affairs.


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No Blacks, No Irish, No Dogs, Or The Windrush Scandal

“The government shredded landing cards and other documents that would have outright proven these people’s right to stay. These folks, mostly the children of the Windrush generation, are and always have been British citizens, heck, the passport my father came over with even says British Passport on the cover!”

From Emma Kathryn

When I watch video footage of HMS Windrush docking at the small Tilbury port on the 22nd of June 1948, I get goosebumps. I can’t help but imagine what it must have been like for all of those people aboard, their dreams and hopes of starting a new life. Many of those on board would have left children at home to be sent for when they had their houses and were working. They came to help rebuild Britain after the war, at the invitation of the government.

They were already British citizens.

My grandparents weren’t aboard the Windrush. They came later, but not much. They came in 1961 and were some of the first Caribbean settlers in Nottinghamshire, the county where I live now.

Life here wasn’t easy for them at first. When I think back to the hardship and blatant racism they went through, it makes my blood boil, and I half wish I’d been there to fuck some people right up, but hey, they made it work. My grandmother, my nana, was fierce and strong, like my aunts are now, and carried herself with pride and dignity. My grandfather worked hard for his children, and some of my best childhood memories involve my cousins and summer days in their massive garden (the land where there house was used to be an orchard, with pear and apple trees, and outhouses to explore and hide in).

Anyway, life went on, as it does, and over the years the Caribbean community has become a part of British life. When people talk about all of the ‘foreigners’ coming and taking our jobs, I often call them out, and tell them that my grandparents were the ‘foreigners’ once. They say but that was a long time ago, or, yeah but that was different. It wasn’t, at least not for me, but the point I’m trying to make here is that the Jamaicans and others who came then are a part of our culture now.

Or you would have thought so, until now that is.

If you live in the UK then you will no doubt have heard about the latest government scandal (or one of them anyway, Governments are always getting caught out doing something shady), the one where they’ve tried to deport people who came to this country legally. Not only that, they’ve used it as a cash cow, increasing the cost of citizenship and naturalisation by way over inflation. If you are unfamiliar with this story, then you can read about it here.

This one though, really hit home for my family. It happened to my dad two years ago, before anyone even had a whiff of this scandal. Who’d have thought then, two years ago, that my father’s case would have been the tip of the iceberg. We certainly didn’t.

Naive, I know.

He’d gone to work as normal and was told that the company, as all companies have to, had to do checks on their staff, that they had just been chosen randomly, and that he would need to bring in his birth certificate and passport to prove that he had the right to work here.

Even then we didn’t think anything of it, and set about getting him a new passport. It was only when he received a response from the passport office saying that he had to prove where his grandfathers grandfather was born, in order to support his claim of citizenship, that the first tendrils of worry wrapped themselves around us. The letter went on to say that he would be deported, but not to Jamaica where he’s originally from, but to Barbados, a country my dad has no links to or with at all.

My 61 year old (at the time) father thought he would be deported to a country he’s never been to. And even if it had stated Jamaica, the fact is my father came here when he was seven years old, grew up here, has his family here, his children and grandchildren. His parents are buried here. This is home.

The following months, yes months, not too far off a year in fact, were terrible, and that’s just from my perspective, so god knows how my father felt; the threat of deportation hanging over him, the thought of being sent to a country he has no links with, unable to work, all made so much worse by the callous lack of help and care from the government. Hell even its own staff couldn’t tell their heads from their arses.

I would ring the number on the letter and ask them what my father was meant to do, I mean they kept saying he needed photo ID for this and that, but of course the problem was that he had no photo ID, since coming over he’s never passed a driving test or been anywhere else. That department would pass me to another and so on and so forth until I was passed back to the first damn department. An absolute shambles.

In the end, my father went to see his local MP, who did actually get things done, but my father still had to pay, still had to go through the citizenship test (a crock of shit if ever there was one!), and go to the ceremony.

I can’t tell you how relieved the whole family were to get this sorted out, and truth be told, we couldn’t wait to put the whole mess behind us and forget about it.

That is until about a week or two ago, when the scale of the governments shameful treacherousness came to light. I’m not surprised, not really, especially when you consider the governments hostile policy (self-styled too, I might add) when it comes to immigrants.

The government shredded landing cards and other documents that would have outright proven these people’s right to stay. These folks, mostly the children of the Windrush generation, are and always have been British citizens, heck, the passport my father came over with even says British Passport on the cover! The government can’t even tell us how many people have been deported. They’ve taken innocent citizens and had them locked up in immigration detention centres – prisons is what those places really are. It’s almost beyond belief. When people have travelled back to the Caribbean for holidays or to see relatives, they’ve not been allowed back home.

It’s almost like it was all planned, don’t you think?

Everyone should see this as a wake up call.

It doesn’t matter if you are British, or not, or if your ancestors were British. It doesn’t even matter what country you live in, or what government is in power. Governments are not to be trusted.

By anyone.

You might be thinking, well this could never happen to me, and you may well be right, that your citizenship is never questioned, but look at the bigger picture. Governments treat us, the people, with utter disregard. They really do. They couldn’t give a shit about us, so long as we are all good little people and do as we are told. So long as we follow the rules and never question what we are told.

They do not care about people. They care about themselves. Look with open, truly open eyes at the world in which we live, and at how governments all over it treat people. We invade other countries, being told that it’s humanitarian, that we are helping people, but that isn’t true. Not at all. If it was, then why do we sell arms to Saudi Arabia, who then use those weapons against the people of Yemen? Why do we invade other countries on the pretense that we are helping the people by removing dictators and still sell arms to other dictators? We argue about the use of chemical weapons, all the while turning a blind eye when our allies use them. I could go on and on.

Well to answer those questions, you just have to dig a little deeper, and it is only a little too. They can’t even be bothered to hide their shame. Recently a number of countries, America, France and Britain, decided to take military action in Syria. Guess who’s husband’s company is the largest shareholder of BAE? That’s right ladies and gents, Theresa May’s, that’s who.

Governments put money and property before people, any people, there can be no denying it, and for me, this whole Windrush scandal solidifies that.

The bottom line is governments cannot be trusted.


Emma Kathryn

My name is Emma Kathryn, an eclectic witch, my path is a mixture of traditional European witchcraft, voodoo and obeah, a mixture representing my heritage. I live in the middle of England in a little town in Nottinghamshire, with my partner, two teenage sons and two crazy dogs, Boo and Dexter. When not working in a bookshop full time, I like to spend time with my family outdoors, with the dogs. And weaving magic, of course!

You can follow Emma on Facebook


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A Tribute to Winnie Mandela

Winnie Mandela passed away April 2nd, 2018. Here is a note, and tribute, by the Pan-Africanist school in Brazil that was named after her.

English Translation Here

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NOTA DA REAJA

À GRANDE RAINHA AFRICANA WINNIE MANDELA, NOSSO FAROL.

 “Para alimentar a luta, tinha de me expor à violência e à brutalidade do apartheid.”
Winnie Mandela

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela representou e representará para nós da Reaja, um farol, uma importante referência a qual nos mostra caminhos para uma prática de defesa dos interesses do nossos povo em meio a um tempo de miragens tecnológicas e traições políticas do propósito da luta negra no Brasil.

Winnie Mandela, o imponente nome que daos ao nosso quilombo de libertação forjado por pretos e pretas conscientes de sua história político racial se materializa pela nossa coragem de erigir um território livre de qualquer violência a qual o povo preto sempre esteve imerso. Seguimos com nossas próprias condições, construindo teoria a partir de nossas vidas e mortes, desgraça, servidão, drogas e ignorância, mas sobretudo a partir de práticas de resistência e libertação negra.

A nossa luta política é baseada em serviços comunitários e efetivo enfrentamento ao poder que tenta a todo custo nos eliminar da face da terra e diminuir nossa humanidade, nos utilizando como capachos e serviçais de pautas e propósitos que não nos pertencem, de lutas que não garantirão nossa libertação coletiva. Winnie Mandela acende em nós todos os dias o compromisso de construirmos um projeto de libertação de nosso povo. Winnie Madikizela Mandela é nossa mais pura inspiração.

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela que nos confiou seu nome e sua trajetória para imortalizarmos na história segue firme e intacta em nossas mentes, corpos pretos, braços e pernas que trabalham arduamente dia após dia, nas madrugadas ou no sol escaldante das tardes da cidade túmulo. Militantes envoltos em um sonho coletivo de resgate de nossa autonomia enquanto povo, de nossa independência política sem a tutela de brancos acadêmicos ditando o que devemos ser ou fazer, de nossa autodeterminação sem vagos momentos ociosos, de solidariedade entre nós pretos e pretas.

Nossa Escola de Formação Quilombista e Panafricanista é o núcleo mais avançado de nossa ação, junto com o Núcleo de Familiares de Vítimas do Estado, Núcleo de Familiares e Amigos de Presos e Presas, e nossas ações permanentes de solidariedade e autodefesa. Agora que a Mãe da nação africana volta a sua massa de origem, devemos honrar ainda mais sua história de vida totalmente dedicada a luta de libertação africana.

Em toda sua trajetória política Winnie Madikizela-Mandela jamais recuou de seu dever histórico de enfrentar as forças do apartheid em Soweto, onde nos anos 70 os jovens estudantes negros e negras protagonizaram o mais importante levante contra a opressão branca na África do Sul. A luta e a oposição desses estudantes baseava-se nas péssimas condições de educação, na educação de última categoria dedicada aos africanos e na violência cotidiana. Os jovens foram as ruas e enfrentaram balas com pedras, gritos e cantos tradicionais. Impulsionando e criando toda esta força, estava Winnie Mandela.

Ela é a senhora maior da 4° Internacional Garveista, da qual somos filiadas. Ela é a grande Mãe da rebelião preta em todo mundo. Seu pensamento e sua prática política tem nos animado desde becos e vielas e cadeias e favelas onde combatemos a continuidade perversa da escravização.

Aprendemos com sua luta interminável de libertação que devemos proceder honrando nossos princípios de guerra contra a supremacia branca. Ela nos ensinou que a luta é contínua e regada a muita dor e sangue de ambos os lados, de inimigos e de lutadores radicais dispostos a dar a vida pela conquista de um pedaço de terra ou a libertação de um irmão encarcerado nas catacumbas do sistema prisional ou do acalanto de uma mãe que grita pela perda de seu filho. Somos combatentes dispostas a retomar toda a glória dos tempos áureos das terras negras africanas.

Estamos formando um exército preto de mulheres e homens capazes de reconhecer na sua comunidade o espelho necessário para erguer novas estruturas e instituições com nossos métodos de luta real, com bases em ação comunitária em todos os lugares onde o nosso povo se encontra.

Seguimos atentas e atentos as armadilhas de nossos inimigos. Estamos na disposição para devastar a linha auxiliar a qualquer custo. Não negociamos nossas dores como uma mercadoria barata do período colonial, não barganhamos migalhas usando nossas dores e nossos mortos e história como meros ratos lotados em cargos de governo a espera de cadeiras vagas. Somos a rua, a cadeia, os becos, a noite. Guiamos nossa esperança através do sangue bruto derramado no barro quente sob nossos pés. Suamos como operários escultores de nossa liberdade. Sonhamos com nosso lar repleto de gente preta livre, mas acima de tudo projetamos a edificação de um império sólido cravado na rocha profunda com as insígnias eternas de “Reaja ou Será Morta, Reaja ou Será Morto”.

Salvador, abril de 2018.


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ENGLISH TRANSLATION

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NOTE FROM THE POLITICAL ORGANIZATION REACT OR DIE

TO THE GREAT AFRICAN QUEEN WINNIE MANDELA, OUR BEACON.

“To fuel the struggle, I had to expose myself to the violence and brutality of apartheid.”
Winnie Mandela

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela represented and will represent to us at Reaja (React or Die), a beacon, an important reference which shows us ways to a practice of defending the interests of our people, in a time of technological mirages and political betrayals of the purpose of the black struggle in Brazil.

Winnie Mandela, the imposing name we give to our quilombo of liberation, forged by blacks conscious of their racial-political history, is materialized by our courage to build a territory free of any violence, which black people have always been immersed in. We continue with our own conditions, building theory from our lives and deaths, disgrace, servitude, drugs and ignorance, but especially from practices of resistance and black liberation.

Our political struggle is based on communitarian services and effective confrontation with the power that tries at all costs to eliminate us from the face of the earth, and to diminish our humanity, using us as mats and servants of interests and agendas that are not ours, of struggles that will not guarantee our collective liberation. Winnie Mandela shines a light every day at the commitment to build a project of liberation of our people. Winnie Madikizela Mandela is our purest inspiration.

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, who entrusted us with her name and her journey, is immortalized in history and follows steadily and intact in our minds, black bodies, arms and legs that work hard day after day till dawn, at the scorching sun of the tomb town afternoons. Militants enveloped in a collective dream of rescuing our autonomy as people, of our political independence, without the tutelage of white academics dictating what we should be or do, of our self-determination without vague idle moments, of solidarity between us black people.

Our Quilombist and Panafricanist Training School is the most advanced nucleus of our action, together with the Nucleus of Relatives of Victims of the State, Nucleus of Family and Friends of Prisoners (ASFAP-Bahia), and our permanent actions of solidarity and self-defense. Now that the Mother of the African nation returns to her place of origin, we must honor even more her life story, which was so completely dedicated to the African liberation struggle.

Throughout her political career, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela never backed down from her historic duty to confront the forces of apartheid in Soweto, where in the 1970s young black students staged the most important uprising against white oppression in South Africa. The opposition of these students was based on the poor conditions of education, the last-category education dedicated to Africans, and daily violence. The youth went to the streets and faced bullets with rocks, shouts, and traditional songs. Boosting and creating all this force was Winnie Mandela.

She is the senior lady of the 4th Garveyst International, of which we are affiliated. She is the great Mother of black rebellion in the whole world. Her thinking and her political practice has animated us from alleys and favelas, prisons and chains, where we fight the perverse continuity of enslavement.

We learn from her endless struggle for liberation that we must proceed by honoring our principles of war against white supremacy. She taught us that the struggle is continuous and watered with much pain and blood on both sides, from enemies and radical fighters willing to give their lives for the conquest of a piece of land, or the release of an imprisoned brother in the catacombs of the prison system, or the lullaby of a mother screaming over the loss of her child. We are fighters ready to take back all the glory of the golden times of the black African lands.

We are forming a black army of women and men capable of recognizing in their community the mirror necessary to erect new structures and institutions with our methods of true fight, grounded in community action wherever our people find themselves.

We remain attentive to the traps of our enemies. We are willing to devastate aid-routes at any cost. We do not trade our pains as cheap merchandise from the colonial period, we do not bargain for crumbs using our pains, and our dead, and history, as mere rats crowded into government offices waiting for vacant seats. We are the street, the chain, the alleys, the night. We guide our hope through the raw blood spilled in the hot clay under our feet. We sweat like working sculptors of our freedom. We dream of our home full of free black people, but most of all, we project the building of a solid empire embedded in the deep rock with the eternal insignia of “React or Die”.

Salvador, Brazil – April 2018.


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An Intersectional Experience

“I recognised the similarities between sexism and ableism. We are weak and need a strong man to help us even if we think we don’t. The man will know better.”

From Pieter van Diepen

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Dear world,

I was born and raised a white male in a stable middle class family as the second of two boys. It was society that made me into a straight cis-male, It did not fully fit but neither did the alternatives, after getting a bachelors degree in civil engineering I was at the pinnacle of privilege. At that time I was not aware of it. Now 10 years later I am. It took a stroke rendering me incapable to work and nerve pain to recognize my privilege when I am walking. I no longer identify as a cis hetero male but society still views me as such. That is not an issue for me because I identify as indifferent to all those concepts.

Non binary a-romatic asexual

Being pragmatic fits my male sex according to society. I’d like to share some experiences I got since I lost most of my privilege. Because of the pain, I have to use a wheelchair. To me, using a wheelchair is like using a bike for an able-bodied person; I can go further and carry more stuff. Sadly, society doesn’t treat me like a more active person like they do with cyclists. Instead, they treat me as if I’m a 10 year old child that needs to be taken care of. Last summer, I had the strongest example:

I was at a free music festival where I have been going since it started. I always enjoyed the atmosphere, until last year when “adults” were drinking more and getting obnoxious. So I was a bit anxious when I went last summer. Sadly my suspicions were confirmed. I went early so people would still be sober enough to have a normal conversation. I take medication so I stopped drinking alcohol after my stroke, and coping with an ableist society is hard enough when people don’t have the emphatic capability of a toddler. It was a nice day, I talked with some nice sober people and tried to avoid people that try to use me as a token to show the world how nice they are for being nice to a person with a disability. I was more focused on avoiding annoying non interesting people that find me exotic. I tried to connect to people that look interesting to me, or who I already know to be interesting or nice. I found some interesting people that I apparently already knew and saw some nice shows. I can still walk for 5 minutes and walked behind my wheelchair on the uneven grassy field and would sit down at the show. When I want to see I can stand up but I prefer to sit in a spot with good sound quality.

Around midnight I had used up most of my energy and went to sit at the empty dance floor next to the drum-n-bass artist. I had my hoody over my eyes because the lights drain my energy, which was already at a low, and even with my eyes closed the flashes were too strong. I was sitting there experiencing the sound when a woman tapped me on the shoulder, I looked up, she shouted too loud in my ear asking if everything was okay. I confirmed, she stepped away but kept glancing in my direction. I ignored her and covered my eyes again.

A bit later someone tapped on my shoulder again, this time it was a woman I had spoken to a couple of times in the last decade. She had had too much to drink, first she shouted too loud in my ear about how much fun she was having. I nodded and hoped she would move back to her friends. She instead turned to me again. I was sitting in my wheelchair with my back to some boards, she was standing in front of me and bent over close to my face, I tried to move away but I could not move the chair. I leaned back as far as possible but she kept coming closer. I panicked and screamed at her that she had to move away or I would head-but her. She startled, which gave me the opening to stand up. I can’t use my left side and in crowded uneven areas I have to hold on to my wheelchair for balance, she moved closer again and tried to come close to my face with her face. Because I am 1.95 meters tall, she could not reach, but she put an arm around my neck and pulled me down. That’s when I saw no other way out than to to tap her on the forehead with my forehead. That startled her enough to move away from me and towards some friends. I immediately moved behind my wheelchair to walk away. The guy that was standing between me and the way out asked if everything was okay. I screamed at him: keep her away from me. He moved a bit so I could leave and I walked out of the tent. When passing a security person I told him: if anybody is going to bother me I will start a fight. He nodded and looked away.

So, I moved out of the tent and sat down outside where I could still hear the music. This was going to be the last show, since the main show had already ended. People were all heading to the exit and ignored me, so I could gather my thoughts. A friend walked by but I didn’t feel like interacting with people, so I was glad that he kept going when we both nodded as a sign of recognition. That is how I wanted my interactions to be like for the last hour. I got up and moved to a different part of the terrain.. When I was almost there I heard my name. It was someone from the organization that asked me to make make a memorial stone earlier that day, this time there were 2 security people with him, he told me that they had seen me use violence and because of that they asked me to leave. I agreed that all violence is wrong and that part of the policy is to respond like this, so I walked with them to the exit. While doing so I explained what happened, they said they knew her personally and were surprised that she would behave like this. It did not sound so strange to me because she has a history of erratic behavior and substance abuse. But they ensured me that they would talk with her. It all went very civilized and they even went to exchange some of the festival coins for a mug.

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The Accessible Icon Project

On my way home I almost drove into a pole because I was not focused. And had to stop a couple of times to cry. Luckily I was in the comfort of my own tiny disability car driving on the cycling lanes that are abundant in the Netherlands. When I got home I had to cry some more because I realized this exactly was the thing that had been corroding my self-esteem for 5 years. Ever since I started using a wheelchair in public people have been taking away my agency.

When I told my experience to a friend she said this is an example of intersectionality[1]; in the wheelchair I am the vulnerable person and I’m susceptible to harassment, but when I’m standing, the woman is the vulnerable person. So my trauma was not acknowledged by security because I was standing when I told them. I told some other people and most responded in a supporting manner, but one did a bit of a victim blaming trick. That’s something people say when I complain about random people forcing their help on me just because I’m in a wheelchair, maybe I should put up a sign. In this case, the person asked if I was clear enough about not wanting to be interacted with (ignoring the fact that it was not OK to ignore someone’s request to keep distance).

People take away my agency all the time and cross my personal boundaries by grabbing the wheelchair. Even when I am not sitting in it it feels like they are touching me when they grab my wheelchair without consent.

I thought this was my first experience with sexual harassment, but I have been kissed on the mouth by random women whilst sitting in the wheelchair before. To me it is harassment to touch my face without consent. This did not happen once in the 30 years I had been walking and 3 times in the 5 since I have been riding my chair.

A more clear example of overlapping oppression was the time I asked a female student to put my wheelchair in the train. I had chosen her to do it because I know that the person that helps me will have a good feeling about themselves for doing so. So I don’t offer the macho people this opportunity. It’s not hard to do if you know how it is done, so I explained and we waited for the train.
 I had asked her not because I can’t do it myself, but because when I do it myself there are almost always people that grab my chair when my back is turned while I step into the train. And when I turn around there is someone clumsily holding my chair and I have to tell them to put it down because I can’t pull it into the train while they are holding it. Also that they should ask permission before grabbing other peoples belongings. I avoided this frustration by partly accepting the victim position. After the train stopped, I got in she, walked behind me while pulling the chair inside, but while she was doing it the conductor grabbed the chair and pulled it from her hands to put it in the train. We had to wait for him because he was at an odd angle.

Then I recognised the similarities between sexism and ableism- we are weak and need a strong man to help us even if we think we don’t. The man will know better. And because of that, afterward we will be thankful.

NO.

So I’ve made this sticker that clearly states my feeling:

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[1] Intersectionality is the best fitting theory for the stacking of problems people can experience. Intersecting identities can cause overlapping symptoms. My case is confusing because there are mostly positive (intended) prejudices around my identities (male= strong / person in wheelchair= innocent). It would still have gone different if I had only one identity. Because of my different positions of privilege, I do not fit in the visualization of intersectionality and I started thinking of alternatives, which is not starting from the identity, but from the prejudice intersecting shapes instead of lines.

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Pieter van Diepen

29893251_10156225620998544_526601187_oPieter started to get involved in activism after joining many protest marches as if they were guided tours. After befriending activists, joining in protests became more of a social than a political activity.

Now he has started to raise awareness for the unrecognised oppressed; the people with physical disabilities, and the invisible oppressed; people with invisinle disabilities including mental illnesses. This could be the start of a new movement: anarcho-capabalism.


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Thoughts On Land Ownership

In my mind, the land, the earth cannot really be owned by anyone.

From Emma Kathryn

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Can you imagine being one of the very first people? Really imagine? It’s almost romantic isn’t it? Almost, until you consider the difficulties of such life, the harsh realities, like having to hunt and forage for food, or the lack of doctors, hospitals, drugs. Dying of injuries and diseases that now we consider minor. Of course there are many people today who live that kind of life, tribal, indigenous people,though their way of life is constantly under threat.

But early man, to wander the earth and to be free to do so!

No doubt the first division of land was tribal, the first ‘ownership’ of the land territories of tribes. But that type of land ownership is not what I’m going to talk about here. That kind of land ownership is not what we have today. That kind of land ownership wasn’t really about owning the land, not like it is today.

In my mind, the land, the earth cannot really be owned by anyone.

When my kids were younger, they used to watch a show called Adventure Time, back before it was popular, before you’d see adults wearing merchandise from the show. To be fair, it was a pretty cool show, I mean it had witches and demons and vampires and ice kings, so yeah, pretty cool. It was also sometimes, weirdly, quite deep, for a kids cartoon. They were watching it one day, and a snippet really caught my attention. One character was explaining to another how the earth came to be owned, about how those few who were stronger took what they wanted and then called it ‘lawful’ and then created institutions to protect what was theirs. You can watch the clip here.

Accurate, isn’t it? Anyway….

I love going out foraging, and there’s usually something to be found in all seasons, though winter is often less about food and more to do with the gathering of dead things. Foraging is the perfect way to get out and about, to build a connection with the land where you live, and you all know how I feel about that!

Last year, towards the tail end of summer, the beginning of autumn, I took a couple of my friends, one of whom is a long time pagan, out on a foraging expedition. It wasn’t really an expedition in that we never left the confines of the town, but I suppose it was a bit of an eye opener for all of us.

It was certainly the first time they’d ever been trespassing, and to me, well, I don’t even consider it as such!

The river that flows through our town is quite accessible, though it used to be easier to get to from my end of town. You used to be able to cross the railway line and use a bridlepath to get across to the river. Now though the rail crossing has been closed, the gates welded shut and the bridlepath shut off from the public. You can still get to the river, and the detour isn’t really long, and is quicker still if you don’t mind clambering over an embankment and crossing a scrap yard (the owner unofficially lets people, fishermen and locals, he turns a blind eye).

Datura grows near there, and a little further, wormwood, if you know where to look (it’s the only patch I have found in my foraging travels so far).

So, we scrambled up and over the embankment and across the scrap yard and over what we locals call the elbow bridge. We followed the river for a short while, hunted cob nuts in a small copse of trees under the bypass, and then I told them about the ponds.

To get to the ponds you have to go under a small train bridge and then there’s a bridge that is blocked off in the middle, with a massive sign declaring that the land you are about to enter belongs to British Sugar and that trespassers will be prosecuted. You can  climb over the bridges railing and scoot across on the bars, climbing back over when you’ve passed the barricade. Or, if you are wearing the right footwear (or you don’t mind getting wet and muddy), you can jump across or walk through a small stream.

Once I’d assured them that we wouldn’t get caught, or that the bull in with the cows was way over the other side of the field, and quite chilled out, they were okay with things. But if I hadn’t of taken them, they would not have crossed that bridge, would have turned around and gone elsewhere.

My argument was that I don’t recognise the land as belonging to British Sugar, not really. How can the land be bought and sold? Oh I know the mechanics of it, understand there are laws and deeds and whatnot that ‘prove’ that the land belongs to this particular corporation or that one, but once you get past that, when you consider the world, the universe, and everything we consider and believe as occultists, witches and sorcerers, who has authority over the land?

Anyway, a lovely couple of hours was spent beside the ponds, a secret known to only fishermen and other intrepid trespassers!

And we too, the humble proletariat, are sold the dream of ownership. To own your own home is a dream so many aspire to. And what’s not to want, eh? Somewhere that’s yours, where what you say is law, where you are free to do as you please (so long, of course, that it fits within the laws that govern the society in which you live), a place where, once you’ve paid for it, is yours, totally yours.

Only it isn’t. Not really.

I’ve written recently about the redevelopment my neighbourhood will soon be undergoing. Nothing much has changed since the time of writing, with the council still telling us that they haven’t made any firm decisions yet (and you can bet your life that we, the residents will be the last to find out). Anyway, most of us who live there are council tenants, but there are those who do own their own homes, and a good majority of those home owners live right on the edge of the field where two hundred new homes are to be built. I think most of those people have lived there, in those houses for a long time, certainly for as long as I can remember. Many of them were council tenants themselves who took advantage of the massive discounts offered to them under the Right to Buy scheme. Of course, the houses were cheap to begin with on account of their location. Why else would anyone want to buy a house in the middle of what is often considered to be the worst place to live in the town?

Those folks are the ones who have the most to lose really. Many of them have paid off their mortgages and having probably looked forward to the day when their homes would be their own, bought and paid for. What do you think will happen to these people, the ones who don’t want to sell their homes? Compulsory purchase orders is what will happen to them. They’ll receive the market value for their homes, which some might consider fair (I do not, forced removal and all of that jazz). And therein lies the problem, because market value will not be enough for them to go and buy another home. No, these poor people who have spent their lives working to pay off their house will probably have to take out other mortgages.

Big deal, you might well say, but to someone close to retirement age, or already there, well, it’s not the best news is it? If it was me, I know I would be raging and would already be cooking up some working or another.

The point is, even when we do as we are told,  when we complete what is expected of us, even then nothing is guaranteed. If some development or other requires that the people there need to be gone, then it doesn’t matter if you own your home and the land it sits on or not. And it’s not just where I live either, it’s country-wide, worldwide.

Anyone who follows my FB page will know that I detest fracking, and since the fracking companies have been welcomed with open arms here (by parliament – nobody else here wants them), the owning of land is no guarantee that you will be able to tell INEOS and the others to eff-off.

Where councils and local authorities have told the fracking companies no, either government pressure or High Court rulings have turned those council decisions around, forcing councils to allow these companies access to their land.

Even countries aren’t safe. Scotland has banned fracking outright. The Scottish government has listened to the people and said a great big ‘no’ to the fracking industry. But not one to listen to the people or countries that try to oppose them, INEOS has won the right to sue the Scottish government. Not only that, and this may be hard to believe, they may also be able to sue the Scottish government for breaching its human rights. It’s almost laughable, isn’t it, if it wasn’t true.

Sad, sad times indeed.

So there, some thoughts on land ownership. Just for the record, I would never trespass an individuals home or land. Probably. And don’t get me wrong, I’m not against people owning shit. I understand the wanting to own your own home, and to some extent, it offers you some freedom, security.

Except for when the price is high enough.


Emma Kathryn

My name is Emma Kathryn, an eclectic witch, my path is a mixture of traditional European witchcraft, voodoo and obeah, a mixture representing my heritage. I live in the middle of England in a little town in Nottinghamshire, with my partner, two teenage sons and two crazy dogs, Boo and Dexter. When not working in a bookshop full time, I like to spend time with my family outdoors, with the dogs. And weaving magic, of course!

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