postcards I’m sending to a fundraising event in NY to benefit Boricua Human RIghts’ campaign for the release of Puerto Rican Political Prisoner Oscar López Rivera
"The central image is that of Tiresias, the blind prophet of Thebes famous for being transformed into a woman. This prophetic power is linked in mythology to his gender crossing — and was distrusted by people."
Heather Cassils, Hard Times, 2010
Modesto Brocos y Gómes, 1895, A Redenção de Cam (The Redemption of Ham)
In the years leading up to Lula’s push for stronger political and economic ties with African countries, the dialogue on race and African identity underwent substantial changes. In the 1990s, President Fernando Henrique Cardoso was not only the first president to publicly acknowledge that racism existed in Brazil, but he was also the first president to acknowledge that he had a “foot in the kitchen” – a reference to his own African heritage. Such statements flew in the face of decades of the marginalization of African identity.
In the aftermath of the abolition of slavery in 1888, Republican-era (1889-1930) Brazilian elites believed that the newly freed Afro-Brazilian population, which was assumed to have retained its “backward” culture, would impede Brazil from taking its place among the developed industrial nations of the world. At the same time, theories of scientific racism were infiltrating Brazil, and Brazilian elites sought to “whiten” the country’s population – an ideology best captured in Modesto Brocos y Gómes’ 1895 painting A Redenção de Cam (The Redemption of Ham – from the Bible’s Book of Genesis). This painting depicted embranqueamento (whitening) – the ideal that through European immigration and miscegenation, every Brazilian generation would become whiter.
Cardoso’s statements also flew in the face of the subsequent promotion of the myth of racial democracy, which originated with the 1933 publication of Gilberto Freyre’s The Masters and the Slaves. This book asserted that the institution of slavery encouraged racial tolerance and intermingling so that Brazilians inherently had no racial prejudice, contrary to what the author had observed in Europe, the United States and Africa. Freyre emphasized how Brazil’s three races contributed to formation of the nation, giving them a reason to feel proud of their unique, ethnically mixed tropical civilization. Brazil’s embrace of this ideology promoted the notion that all Brazilians lived in racial harmony, and that any discrimination Afro-Brazilians suffered was a function of social class, not of race. This has historically deprived several Afro-Brazilian civil rights movements of their solitary target for mobilization.
The title, Angela Loji , refers to the last representative of the Selk´nam aboriginal group, who inhabited Tierra del Fuego in Chile until their extermination at the beginning of the XXth Century by European conquerors and who developed a rich body-painting language for their rites of passage, on which the body painting for this performance is inspired.
A number of them were brought to Europe in 1889 to be exhibited in the centenary of the French Revolution “as an example of the contrast between progress and savageness”.
Angela Loij was the last surviving full-blood Selk’nam. She died in May, 1974 in Rio Grande in the south of Chile.
Concept and choreography: Juan Gabriel Harcha
Anti-Everything - Broken Caribbean
our friend Taína is singing on this!!!
"the sun that warms us is the same…the sea that binds us is the same"
1. Burning a field of sugar cane, vicinity of Guanica. This destroys the leaves and makes it easier to cut the cane, Puerto Rico.
2. Children of FSA-RR borrower? on their farm, Puerto Rico.
3. Crane at a “central” gathering place for sugar cane crop, vicinity of San Sebastian, Puerto Rico.
4. Sugar cane workers resting, Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico.
5. Sugar cane worker in the rich field, vicinity of Guanica, Puerto Rico.
6. Rice and papaya in the lunch of a sugar worker on a plantation, vicinity of Guanica, Puerto Rico.
7. Day laborers picking cotton, near Clarksdale, Miss.
8. Chopping cotton on rented land near White Plains, Greene County, Ga.
9. Cutting Burley tobacco and putting it on sticks to wilt before taking it into the curing and drying barn on the Russell Spears’ farm, vicinity of Lexington, Ky.
10. Child of a migratory farm laborer in the field during the harvest of the community center’s cabbage crop, FSA labor camp, Tex.
FAILINGS of PRE/POST REVOLUTIONARY CUBAN SOCIETY: the PROMULGATION of the (UN)WANTED OTHER
Ignacio Jacinto Villa Fernández,known by his stage name “Bola de Nieve” (Snowball), was a Cuban singer and pianist.
Bola de Nieve supported the Castro regime, even going on friendly international campaigns to other socialist countries, such as China (pictured above).
He was one of the few Cuban homosexuals not to be persecuted, perhaps for this reason. Gay Cuban writer Reinaldo Arenas, in his autobiography Antes que anochezca (Before night falls), said about him: “Era el calesero del Partido Comunista” (“He was the coachman of the Revolution”).
The openly gay, imprisoned Reinaldo Arenas was able to flee to the U.S. during the 1980 Mariel boatlift.
Cuba’s new ally, the Soviet Union, had hostile policies towards gays and lesbians, seeing homosexuality as a product of the decadent capitalist society prevailing in Cuba in the 1950s. Fidel Castro made insulting comments about homosexuality. Castro’s admiring description of rural life in Cuba (“in the country, there are no homosexuals”) reflected the idea of homosexuality as bourgeois decadence, and he denounced “maricones” as “agents of imperialism”. Castro explained his reasoning in a 1965 interview:
[W]e would never come to believe that a homosexual could embody the conditions and requirements of conduct that would enable us to consider him a true Revolutionary, a true Communist militant. A deviation of that nature clashes with the concept we have of what a militant Communist must be.
Fidel has since recanted such ignorant statements, and similarly to the U.S., since the mid-1980s, being openly gay in Cuba has become more accepted—but, as with the U.S., much discrimination and violence towards the LGBTQ community remains. A future post might also focus on the failings of the revolution in Cuba as it relates to attitudes towards women/addressing patriarchy.