Due to current events, Comadre Luna sat down to do some reflection as a collective and analize what we are seeing via the mass media outlets. We see headlines with words like: “looting, violence, riots…” So, we’ve been asking ourselves: “What do we understand to be looting? What is violence? Where does this violence start? How do we experience this violence in our bodies?”For us the violence is manifested in the experiences that we have lived in our bodies from a young age, and they could fill a book. This violence is embedded in our bodies as immigrant women and 528 years later we still feel it’s memory. This memory calls for us to be present. To not remain indifferent. Today, we find ourselves in the United States’ territory, territory usurped by English, Spanish, Dutch and French colonizers, covered in the blood of indigenous bodies, and wealth built on the backs of black bodies kidnapped from their communities in Africa; raped bodies, murdered bodies, women’s bodies. This history, nevertheless, is the same history told all over the territory of our Abya Yala, so called Latin America. Indigenous lands conquered by Europeans, where once again indigenous and black women’s bodies were used as commodities between two worlds, the old and the new. Julieta Paredes, an indigenous woman from the Collective Mujeres Creando, calls this the “entronque patriarcal” patriarchal junction, indigenous women’s bodies used in negotiations carried out by men in service of the colony. This is the same violence our ancestors lived through.Our bodies continue to be violated, through mass incarceration or detention centers for immigrant communities; kidnapped; disappeared. Today these bodies are still crying over their stolen and dead children. Today in 2020, we continue experiencing this violence, in a new era of colonialism and imperialism. While the system of institutional racism and more directly police abuse took George Floyd’s breath away, he begged for help, he called out to his mother. That cry for help that they are trying to choke out is us, it is the children separated from their families in detention centers, the bodys of the majority black youth with citizenship who are torn from their families by the juvenile prison system.That’s why we cannot let the images we see today on our social media feed become just another disappearing photograph. It’s time to place ourselves on the timeline of centuries of violence. The moment we are living in is a product of accumulated rage: two months in a pandemic, more than 100,000 dead, a majority of whom are people of color, the highest unemployment rate this country has ever seen; bodies without jobs, without food, without help. The government’s response has been to toss crumbs at its citizens, while the rich and the large corporations profit off this opportunity to line their pockets with millions in disaster aid funding for their businesses. This money making machine only makes money for the wealthy and the white.Let us not lose sight of what’s important. The corporate mass media, government and popular opinion seek to divide us by calling the peaceful actions where we’ve manifested our rage violent protests. This reminds us of the same public outcry seen in Latin American countries against women who have taken to the streets and expressed their rage about thousands of femicides by doing graffiti on walls and monuments. We ask ourselves – how did we get to a point where a wall being painted or the destruction of the storefront of a multi-million dollar corporation provokes more outrage than the systemic murder of people from black communities at the hands of the police? Why do we get angrier about the looting of designer clothing stores than at the fact that today, June 1st, thousands of protesters, marching peacefully through the streets of Philadelphia, were teargassed from helicopters, beaten and dragged by the police and the national guard? The small businesses that have been hit were close to closing because of the economic crisis that the pandemic has provoked, and the government has responded by distributing emergency funds to multi-million dollar corporations. What are we afraid of if they have already taken everything from us? Are we afraid we won’t be able to go back to the “normal” that had us up to our necks in hot water? Let’s breathe, let’s reflect. We think it is necessary to organize ourselves, protect ourselves, activate our mutual aid networks, raise consciousness, take to the streets; wake up. Comadre Luna has taken to the streets to accompany thousands of bodies in saying ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. The collective rage overtook the fear of contagion. Still the Philly protests have emphasized and promoted protocols for care. In the streets what we heard and saw were thousands of steps, thousands of voices, people in masks doing their best to keep a safe distance, comrades passing out water, free food or masks. But the media doesn’t show those things. Meanwhile, the response of the police was to launch tear gas and flashbang grenades that cause brain contusions into crowds of peaceful protesters.Now in Philadelphia the National Guard has taken Center City, and this week, the same city government is finalizing a proposed budget of 14 million dollars for the police force while City Hall announces budget cuts to social and educational programs.We ask ourselves – why during two months of a pandemic was the National Guard not deployed to build hospitals and clinics for COVID testing? Why did the National Guard not arrive to hand out food and basic goods? Why were the police able to track Minneapolis protesters within 48 hours while they couldn’t track possible exposures to the virus during the two months that would have been critical to avoid further contagion?What is coming will be difficult, but this moment of history that we are living in rings out with the social uprisings that began months ago in Chile and Colombia, Latin American laboratories for neoliberal capitalism, funded by the United States government.We want a plan to Rebuild our communities!We demand that the local and federal government immediately defund the police. We want the city to invest in a future where our communities are present and have access to necessary services. This is not a favor. It is our right.
These are some of the ways in which these funds can be reinvested:
- Invest in public school infrastructure.
- Continue and expand food banks.
- Invest in Urban Agriculture programs.
- Free internet access for low income families.
- Universal Health Care.
- Create clinics and access to medical attention regardless of immigration status.
- Support investment in cooperative businesses owned by people of color.
- Fund the rescue of small businesses in our communities.
- Close immigrant detention centers like Berks.
- Immediately release vulnerable populations from Pennsylvania prisons.
- End imprisonment in solitary confinement.
- A justice system that helps to heal our communities instead of dividing us.
- Recognition of the rights of immigrant communities that contribute their taxes to the country’s economy.
- Lower taxes for disadvantaged communities and raise them for multi-millionaires.
- Investigate, report and prosecute in instances of institutionalized racism towards: Native Americans, African Americans, Asians, Africans, and Middle Easterners.
In the meantime, there are many actions we can take each according to our abilities:
- Participate in hearings in the city of Philadelphia where the budget for the police force will be discussed this coming Tuesday June 9th from 3pm to 5pm. For instructions on how to participate check the Philly We Rise Facebook page. Remember if you don’t speak English you have the right to request interpretation services.
- Write to your city council people and local representatives demanding that they defund the police.
- Publicly report racist or discriminatory acts and sexist violence.
- Support small local business.
- Share resources in your community. WiFi, extra food, tech knowledge, etc.
- Participate in Know Your Rights workshops that different organizations offer to know what your rights are in case you get stopped by the police or immigration.
- Offer support to community members detained at the protests and their families. And if that’s not possible, donate to community bail funds in our area.
If you are not coordinating with a group, start: join a group text with friends, neighbors, comadres, people you know. We need to make sure we are accompanied, informed, and that no one is left alone during these difficult times. #WETAKECAREOFUS #BLACKLIVESMATTER #DEFUNDTHEPOLICE #DECOLONIZE.