ANTI-IMPERIALIST PRO-VEGAN RADICAL FEMINIST HIP-HOP & GRIME REVOLUTIONARIES

29 Mar

In reading more about KONY2012 (I know it’s over for some people, but the issues of advocacy v. implementation, the [mis]information power of the internet, responsible engagement v. “slacktivism,” and the “soft bigotry” of the “Save Africa” mentality are far from over), I came across this blog: https://sistersofresistance.wordpress.com/2012/03/07/kony-2012-is-racist/ (search for “Racism, Invisible Children and the Kony2012 Viral” if the March 7th post doesn’t pop up).

I thought their compilation of perspectives (while homogeneous) were articulate and compelling, and it made me wonder who these Sisters of Resistance are. As I clicked on “About Us,” I noticed the all caps tagline at the top of their blog:

ANTI-IMPERIALIST PRO-VEGAN RADICAL FEMINIST HIP-HOP & GRIME REVOLUTIONARIES

… and I forgot about Invisible Children and KONY2012 for a moment. The sisters–or sistas, as they call themselves in their “About Us” manifesto–declare:

We are sista resista, a revolutionary, anti-racist, anti-imperialist feminist diode conducting the current in only one direction — against the tide of oppression. In our rejection of patriarchal gender roles for women including submission and servitude, we are not divorced from popular culture, but engaged in a critical analysis of it.

We resist the ideologically motivated, neo-liberal cuts being forced upon the poorest and most vulnerable. We resist racism, white supremacy and imperialism. We resist the commodification of education. We resist neo-liberalism and capitalism. We resist environmental destruction. We resist war and systematic violence. We resist patriarchal, sexist, misogynistic behaviour and attitudes and the white male power structure. We also resist sexist domination and abuse from men in so-called “activist” circles and our personal lives.  We resist all forms of oppression and injustice, wherever they arise, all of the time.

What I find fascinating about the tagline is how “PRO-VEGAN,” “HIP-HOP” “& GRIME” are invoked as synonyms for “revolutionary, anti-racist, anti-imperialist feminism.” Let’s take “HIP-HOP” as an example: while the genre may seem like an obvious match for a revolutionary movement, a look behind the scenes of the music industry suggests otherwise. In the documentary HIP-HOP: Beyond Beats and Rhymes filmmaker and hip-hop fan Byron Hurt reckons with the reality that white music executives are profiting off the commercialization of the music, videos, racist stereotyping of black men and women, and violent sexism and homophobia of rap (http://www.pbs.org/independentlens/hiphop/film.htm). And this is what the Sisters of Resistance are using as code for “against oppression.”

As for “GRIME,” that shorthand resonates with me as someone who both works in the arena of social justice and lives in Mill Valley, CA. I’m supposed to live in Oakland (and not the hills). That’s what I read when people’s eyebrows register my privileged zip code. Because Oakland is synonymous with The Work, The People and Social Justice. Oakland is authentic. And it would make me more so to move there. But again, that’s shorthand. I’m in this work because of my privilege and to unleash more privilege for more people. Getting a “grimier” zip code won’t in and of itself make me more engaged. Although it might make me look more like a sista.

This is not to critique the Sisters of Resistance. In fact, I really dig their blog. It’s to take a moment to reflect on the shorthand we use everyday in our communities to try to define and present ourselves and our values. Because that shorthand may not ultimately serve us or the values we aspire to embody and enact.

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