We’re having this amazing and once in a lifetime opportunity to have Caye, Black Mama, Taki Amaru, and Jeka Libre perform before our eyes. They are rapping and speaking so loudly with words that would otherwise make you feel uncomfortable. They rap about young girls getting raped and molested, they speak about abortions and how disgusting men have been. They are speaking words into existence. Words that have been silenced by men and society and those who constantly tell us to be quiet because we are being “lloranas.” They are empowering us with their words, their pain and their energies.
We are here once again in Quito Ecuador, at the event Feminista Hip Hop/Futurismo Feminista: Encuentro & Dialogo with Cayetana Solano also known as Caye Cayejera and Ana Gabriela Cano also known as Black Mama on stage. They have brought two new guests, Taki Amaru, a Kwicha rapper and Jeka Libre. We have continued the conversations we started in class. One of the things that have stuck me the most since the event started was what Taki has shared with us. “Sumak Kawsay es muy ponderosa…es aprender a vivir en harmonia, con las energias que ni si quiera son solo con nosotros de humanos, es entender que hay energias que bajan des de los cosmos, que asienden de la tierra, y poder vivir con plentitud con eso.”
Sumak Kawsay is very powerful… it’s learning how to live in harmony, with the energies that are beyond human, that come from above and below earth, and being able to live fully with that.
It was such an honor to have the performers share their music with us here in Quito, Ecuador at the Dommo Cultural Platform, as part of the event Feminista Hip Hop/Futurismo Feminista: Encuentro & Dialogo. A perfect way to end the night, everyone had a blast listening and dancing to such powerful music! -Porter
At the encuentro, the panelists are now answering questions and talking about their own experiences as rappers and women. There are also now three dogs at the event. Caye just asked Jessica how the other hip hop artists reacted to her being a part of that group, and how Jessica responded to their reaction. Jessica says (with Ana Gabriela aka Black Mama translating) that the reactions were different because they were all girls going up on the stage using “big words with big mouths.” Some guys were supportive, but it was hard. Black Mama then said that the women in that group made a path for women in hip hop, allowing for a new role for those women. Now, those women get to have their own crews, and Jessica is going solo.
Black Mama then spoke to her experience at a rap battle where she battled 80 men. After, she received death threats, and other women told her that those threats are the reason to not go to the battles, to stop rapping. Black Mama received rape threats, was booed and yelled at, and nearly gave up hip hop. She thought about leaving, but didn’t want to lose the ability to be heard, although she is still facing consequences from that show. But in her own words, “I keep on rapping, and nobody gonna stop me.”
At the event Feminista Hip Hop/Futurismo Feminista: Encuentro & Dialogo, Ana Gabriela Cano speaks to the anger and the passion in her music. She says the anger stems from the injustices she and others experience. It’s the anger that makes her “want to say something, need to say something.” Very powerful conversation happening here in Quito Ecuador, at the Dommo Cultural Platform. -Porter
After a round of introductions from everyone in the circle, the rappers began talking about their music as well as other feminist programs. Taki Amaru is a rapper who raps in Kichwa to bring to light discussions about indigenous people all over Ecuador. We had a chance to meet Caye before and hear about her project, Women Behind the Camera. During her introduction, Black Mama talked about how she had been fighting for racial rights, but upon meeting Caye, she took on a broader fight for women’s rights. She also said that when she met hip hop she found a way to reach more people, people who needed this message, and has met others in the hip hop world to rap with and also work with for a cause she believes in. When Jessica introduced herself, she spoke about her projects in both music and graffiti. She was also part of the first women’s hip hop group in Quito, and is now working on a solo project. After brief introductions, the rappers began talking about how they met and admired each other at concerts, and it was inspiring to me not only to see these women supporting each other but the way they want to fight for and uplift other women of all backgrounds.
The following is an introspective made by students of the class Feminism in the Borderlands at the University of Washington; it is a summary of 5 students’ experience at the un-conference.
Professor Jade Power-Sotomayor leading Bomba on February 11 2017 at the Womxn Who Rock (Un)Conference in Washington Hall, Seattle, WA. Photo Credit: Afomia Assefa
Tags: Women Who Rock, Building Communities
We choose this picture because it is clear convivencia in action. Everyone is learning together and instead of having a teacher at the front talking down to students, she is equal footing with the students while she educates them. People are learning from each other in what is clearly a very safe space, where making mistakes is not punished or frowned upon. You can see the feeling of fiesta through the amount of people and their colorful skirts – this uplifting energy was felt throughout this whole information sharing session. It’s also a very powerful picture because the participants are clearly ignoring and surpassing gender norms; everyone is having a good time and binaries do not matter.
The category of this picture falls under Making Scenes: Scene Makers, as she is performing on the stage and leading others by example to dance Bomba. Jade Sotomayor is a professor at the University of Washington Bothell and emphasizes the influence of dance and music into the social world of politics and ethnicity and vice versa.
Julie Olivos’ Altar Construction (pictured on the right) on February 11 2017 at the Womxn Who Rock (Un)Conference in Washington Hall, Seattle, WA. Photo Credit: Afomia Assefa
Tags: Women Who Rock, Building Communities, Making Scenes
We chose this picture because it represents the collective altar construction of not just our group, but everyone in the course. Altar making is a communal activity and we are reminded of that in this picture as you can see everyone’s work came together and created the wonderful amalgams of our personal lives that are visible in the altars. The strong presence of Frida Kahlo was also important in this picture as it represents Frida’s strong radical influence in Mexican art. Our altares were meant to be be equally radical in that we reclaimed our spaces and fought binaries, homophobia, sexism, and patriarchy: all things that have held our communities down for so long.
The collective Altar that was built by our class and by Julie resembles the theme of Building Communities. Although it is not a specific form of music or performance, it is a form of art and spirituality that demonstrates coming together and providing a safe environment while inviting our ancestors to attend the Women Who Rock (un)Conference.
Unconference Attendees Learning an Afro-Puerto Rican Bomba Dance. Women Who Rock: Water is Life Unconference. February 11, 2017. Washington Hall, Seattle, WA. Making Scenes.
This picture represents a sense of community and unity while dancing in harmony to Bomba. It is a representation and reclamation of Indigenous knowledge and roots. It is important to be aware of Indigeneity and how it is implemented in different types of art that display a connection between cultures.
This picture features the making of a musical scene. It captures the building of community and the reclamation of Indigenous culture. It is an excellent example of the use of music and dance to construct resistant epistemologies and political formations.
Altares by University of Washington Students. Women Who Rock: Water is Life Unconference. February 11, 2017. Washington Hall, Seattle, WA. Reel Rebels.
The picture of altares created by our classmates gives off vibrant colors and spirits in the unconference. These bright colors represent the bright souls that joined together in unity. This picture was chosen not only because it is a representation of a sanctuary, but a safe space of expressing and honoring our unique beliefs and cultures. The different altares is a way of reclaiming cultural traditions and transforming them our own way based on our experiences. We articulate our resistance through the process of making these altares.
We categorize this picture under ‘Reel Rebels’ because it documents the visual art of the ofrendas. It is visual art as well as an archivista practice. The altars include many pictures, which are themselves visual art, in their reproduction and remembrance of a subjugated history.
Maya Jupiter Speaking on Artivism and “Madre Tierra.” February 11, 2017. Washington Hall, Seattle, WA. Making Scenes.
This picture was chosen to represent the power within this space. Maya Jupiter is an artivist that uses her platform to advocate for social justice along with modifying her cultures histories through her songs. As a womxn of color, many of these spaces were not meant for us to partake in, yet, Maya Jupiter is breaking that traditional norm, which makes this picture so powerful. She is delivering an important message to the communities while on a tamira. This tarima adds on to the importance of this picture since it represents coming in convivencia, united together.
In this picture, Chicana feminist musician Maya Jupiter is addressing Unconference attendees. After displaying her video “Madre Tierra”, which she vocally accompanied, she explained her intentions in making the music video and her plans for future musical endeavors. The powerful artivism this picture captures justifies its categorization as “Making Scenes.”
We are wrapping up, but the Fandango is keeping the spirits up as we clean. There is still dancing going on. The play put on by Gabriella Seattle shared with us the stories of Filipino women who have to travel away from their homes to work. It is a story not often heard, and Gabriella shared it wonderfully. There was a spirit of solidarity throughout the entire day, but particularly during the play. Then Maya Jupiter freestyled against police brutality and the prison industrial complex which is a pressing issue in Seattle right now. We had an open mic which showcased all the many voices that represent women who rock from seasoned veteran performers to new voices. Finally, the Fandango is closing out the day by fostering the spirit of community and resilience of Women Who Rock!
The events so far have been spectacular; the initial blessings were beautiful and touching, while the Women’s Steel Drum performance immediately brought the already high energy to a breaking point. The speak back about standing rock followed, and although it was physically and auditorily a lot less explosive, the energy in the room was not permitted to drop. The seriousness channeled the present enthusiasm into the main purpose of women who rock: making a change. Each speaker built upon the last, and after it was done I (and doubtlessly most the room) was far more educated on Standing Rock and inspired to go out and do more. Immediately we transitioned to the more lighthearted workshops, and I feel like this back and forth epitomizes the Unconference: a space for people to come together, for change in the world and for reveling in their identities.