Rapper Emicida: Why He Won’t Participate in Vidas Negras Importam
Note from BW of Brazil: The battle over a response to the genocidal actions of Brazil’s police forces is taking on political battle lines among Afro-Brazilians. Last weekend, we saw protests in Rio de Janeiro in front of the governor’s mansion in which protesters called for respect of black lives and demanded that some of the most brutal police in the world “stop killing us“. The protests going down in Brazil come at a time when masses of people have taken to the streets in the United States to protest the death of George Floyd. This is the first time that Brazilians have taken to the streets in recognition of similar police violence against the black community in both countries.
In 2014, marches and demonstrations in Brazil were organized in repsonse to the murders of black Brazilians Douglas Rodrigues and Amarildo de Souza as well as black Americans Eric Garner and Mike Brown. Recently, the organzing of such demonstrations and marches have drawn political lines in the sand in which many believe that taking to the streets is the proper manner in which to speak out and take a political position to the power structure that continues to warrant such wreckless taking of black lives. Popular rappers such as Emicida and Djonga recently entered the debate with the former explaining why he won’t participate and the latter explaining why he will. While the question these days seems to be what should be done to address the issue, I must ask if protesting, marching and demonstrations are even effective.
I ask this question for several reasons. I clearly understand the desire to want to do something about police tactics, but when protests are staged there are so many issues to consider. 1) What is the ultimate objective in protesting? 2) Who are the organizers of such protests? 3) If these protests are ongoing and nation-wide, who will be funding such protests? 4) How do we know that organizers of the protests will take the protests in an effective direction? 5) How can we guard against infiltration of these protests by those who will participate to mislead, disrupt and create chaos in these demonstrations (as is quite evident in the protests of the George Floyd situation)?
In past protests that we’ve seen, not only in the US, but also in Brazil and other countries, we have learned several important lessons that need to be considered. I remember participating in the 2011 Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement and wondering, how is it that such a movement took on national proportions in such a quick manner? Having been involved in organizing campaigns, I knew that several months could be necessary to organize even a small group of just 400 people into a rally, march or protest. Where did the funding for such a campaign come from? Occupy Wall Street may have lasted for about a year but then it dried up without any real accomplishments. The OWS movement was supposedly organized to call for change in financial/banking sectors that were responsible for the 2008 financial meltdown. In the end, was there really anything accomplished?
In 2013, I was in Brazil when protests against public transportation fare increases seemed to just spring up out of nowhere. I wondered again, how did these protests jump off so quickly to the point that there were hundreds of thousands of people marching in the streets in several cities across the country? The media proclaimed that the Brazilian masses, the sleeping giant, had awaken. Governments in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro caved in to mass protest and announced that transportation prices would not be going up after all. But did they really cave in or simply delay the price hikes under massive demonstrations the likes of which hadn’t been seen in Brazil in years?
Upon first sight of the protests, they did seem legitimate, but later I noticed something. The 2013 protests against proposed fare increases of 20 centavos jumped off around June, with governments soon agreeing to keep the transportation prices frozen. But then, months later, in São Paulo, the fare increased to 50 centavos and there was barely a peep from the Brazilian public. Then in 2015, the price jumped another 30 centavos, finally arriving to BRL$4 at the beginning of 2018. Today, in São Paulo, bus/subway fare stands at BRL$4.40, a full BRL$1.40 higher than the original 20 centavos that caused the protests in the first place. What happened to the hundreds of thousands of protesters who were outraged over 20 centavos?
We’ve seen similar price hikes in other cities. In Rio, the fare is now BRL$4.05, in Salvador, it’s BRL$4, in Belo Horizonte, it’s BRL$4.50, in Porto Alegre, it’s now BRL$4.70. Where is the awaken giant? Maybe the giant only woke up for a moment to go to the bathroom and went immediately back to sleep. Or maybe there were other forces involved that stimulated and manipulated the public and by 2015, those same forces were leading protesters to the streets calling for the ouster of the country’s first female president, Dilma Rouseff. Maybe this was all the plan in the first place. Hmmm…Something, something just ain’t right here. Do I need to spell it out? Naw, I’ll let you guys figure it out…
I could take this discussion in a few other directions, but first let’s get into what rappers Emicida and Djonga have to say. Besides that, I want to wait and see what happens tomorrow before I get any deeper into this.
Emicida cites pandemic and explains why he won’t be going to anti-racist protest
By Daiane Oliveira, Tony Aiex with info courtesy of UOL
Rapper Emicida explained today, in a video posted on his Twitter, the reason for not going to the anti-racist protest scheduled for Sunday in São Paulo. He cites the high number of cases of Covid-19 in Brazil and explains that what can end the racist structure in the country is a construction, a base.
“The irresponsibility and irrationality of those who had to lead this country to a better place will still kill many people. The contagion has not reached its maximum yet, think about it. Any agglomeration now, no matter how legitimate our motives, is to jump into the necropolitics circle and take a wave of contagion worse than the one that is already within the communities where the people we love live. This is part of their plan,” said the artist.
“What am I saying? What’s easy, swallow dry, cry at home? No bro, but think about the context, think with me, analyze the number of cases, look at reality, this is what they want. One Brazilian is dying per minute and we are only talking about Covid-19 and the tendency is to increase”, argues the artist who cites the concept of necropolitics of the Cameroonian intellectual, Achille Mbembe.
“Today, we have no organization for this, demonstration is not a micareta (see note one). Anyone who thinks that the racist structure of Brazil will be turned off as if it were a switch is tripping on mayonnaise. We need a construction, a base, a project, a coalition around something.”
“My question for those who are legitimately frustrated and full of hatred is: what is our organizational potential today to stop an infiltrator’s shovel that can stick and drag a legitimate cause? And throw all your indignation down the drain,” says Emicida, recalling the demonstrations that took place in the country in 2013.
He further criticizes the Brazilian press, saying that the coverage of the demonstrations would not make the participation of possible infiltrators who would seek to harm a movement with good intentions clear.
The rapper admits that what he says is not easy, that his heart is in shambles with the latest national and international news involving racism and the development of the pandemic, but that the moment is to be strategic:
“I didn’t get here because I acted on emotion, and it won’t be now that I’m going to start doing that, especially in this context. Strategically speaking, instability is being adjusted to justify a shovel of arbitrary attitude. If we get into the guys’ dance, we know who will suffer. We know where and with what kind of people the Brazilian system makes its arbitrariness reach maximum levels.”
Finally, Emicida criticized the Brazilian government and state, asking the black population to study the country’s “history of repression” before doing anything.
“All these worms want is a spark to tear the social fabric of this shit for good and justify an aggressive and violent rupture, which you know who will fall first. Unfortunately, we’re not prepared at all, no organization. All that this mismanagement wants is this, you acting on emotion.”
Sunday’s protest follows the international trend of anti-racist protests, fueled by the murder of George Floyd, a black man killed by US police.
Emicida attacked online after taking a position on the demonstrations in Brazil
After reflecting on the protests and how the poorest and black population in the favelas can be more affected by the agglomerations, the rapper was told to read more by white internet users
In a video posted on his official Twitter account, Emicida asked the protesters for caution and questioned the organizational power of the actions at this time. However, the artist’s reflection caused discomfort in internet users who started to attack him and even question his knowledge to analyze the socioeconomic and racial conjuncture of Brazil and the world.
Rapper Emicida: Why He Won’t Participate in Vidas Negras Importam
In one of the excerpts from the video Emicida points out that the demonstrations are legitimate, but it shows that blacks living on the peripheries are the most vulnerable in the social process.
Emicida also recalled the demonstrations of 2013 and asked for organization and policies to combat structural racism. “You can’t take a hashtag and think it’s a shield, it doesn’t work. We have seen several infiltrators, 2013 was yesterday. It seems that you have learned nothing. Who got f *** ed in 2013? Rafael Braga,” remembers the artist.
Faced with the debate that the video caused, the artist was praised by some and criticized by others. However, white internet users suggested that Emicida didn’t know what he was talking about, cursed the rapper’s posture and some said that he should read more. One suggestion was the book by the Polish-German Marxist philosopher and economist, Rosa de Luxemburgo, indicated by a follower.
The activist and intellectual, Rosa de Luxemburgo, founded the Spartakus League, a socialist, anti-imperialist and anti-militarist organization that later gave rise to the German Communist Party. But, unlike the Cameroonian philosopher, political theorist, historian, intellectual and university professor, Achille Mbembe, quoted by Emicida, didn’t have her work focused on racial issues. As a result, the nomination caused discontent among other internet users and activists, who considered the young woman’s attitude as a way to disqualify the knowledge of a black man.
murilo araújo✔@musaraujo: “Ah but Rosa Luxemburg was not white”. OK, guys, sorry for the hesitation. But like this: I think you understood that the point of the debate is far from that. Right?
murilo araújo✔@musaraujo: “Far be it from me to want to delegitimize the importance of Rosa Luxemburg’s work and thought, or even the racialized place of the experience that she or Marx lived in their time, but like this: This doesn’t change the fact that you all almost only have eyes for the thought produced in the West.
Emicida questions racism in the media
The rapper Emicida took advantage of the arguments about the demonstrations and the justification of not going to the acts to point out the structural racism, which aggregates institutional racism, from the hegemonic media.
“Think about it, when the infiltrators drag out the poor, what will the big newspaper write? That it was the infiltrators? What did they put out there delegitiming a legitimate agenda because now Brazil wants to get rid of the wounds of racism? To where bro, where? You will step on the gas to set fire to a society that is racist, conservative, passionate, to hate you even more and justify an even more authoritarian attitude and we know where and with what kind of people the Brazilian system makes its arbitrary reach maximum levels and that’s why I say, stay alert. To do something, we need to be organized and I don’t see it”, says the artist.
Rapper Djonga quotes Emicida and says why he will go to demonstrations against racism
“Racism will not end on Monday, it is a construction of much more time that we will have to do together even with different methods”
Tomorrow (07) should be marked by new demonstrations in different corners of the country. Rapper Djonga will take to the streets to protest racism, and he made a point of talking about the reasons in a post he did on social media.
There, he said that he thought a lot about all the issues involved, especially the pandemic of the new Coronavirus, and even cited the rapper Emicida, who went viral when he published a video on why he won’t go to the protests.
In the text, Djonga said:
“I’ve been thinking about it all week, I’ve always been out on the street since I was young, before Rap, and even to better understand why it was so necessary, I think (about) the pros and cons of it all. Then I saw Emicida’s video and I thought, the conversation is cool, it has legitimacy and makes you reflect, it’s not coming out of the mouth of an asshole, but…
Street movement that doesn’t happen with infiltrated people, contradiction and the like doesn’t exist, especially if there is no strong institutional organization behind it and even when it does, no matter when.
Unfortunately or even fortunately (for me, fortunately) the people are not this homogeneous block where they generally think the same about the ‘method’, even though most of them want to go the same way … freedom, opportunity, peace, money in their pocket and the minimum equal condition to live!
The leaders [sic] the same thing, there are great people from our [sic] who think that going through the institutional path and dominating from the inside is the way, there are people who think that hitting the front directly from the outside is right… Racism will not end on Monday, it is a construction of much more time that we will have to do together even though with different methods … but there are those who think that what is happening with instant popular movement is a way of making a stronger stand in front of a scenario where we have no ‘state’, not in terms of authority (because there are too many in this respect), but in terms of care and organization with and for the people, in a scenario where we see scoundrels putting their faces out there to say things we never imagined who would have the courage to say so directly (without the between the lines that we are obliged to live with since childhood), in a scenario wherein the middle of the night what burps justice and anti-corruption passes the herd and puts the money in the hands of the worst in history when it comes to corruption, and even worse, they continue to legitimize what kills us by making what should be a crime natural. (Rapper Emicida: Why He Won’t Participate in Vidas Negras Importam).
My head is f***ed up [sic] and my heart in my hand, but despite that I think the debate is much more complex than that and the strategy is something to be debated…
Coldness is necessary, but emotion, in its most genuine sense, is a part and necessary and you know that, innocence and organic things also come out beautiful and transformative, just talk to a child to prove it…
The questions never leave your head, no one wants to be irresponsible but I’m going, I have always been more fire than ice… and whoever thinks twice at a time like this before taking his foot out of the house not only for you but for the other. Very unfortunately for us every choice a loss and it seems that they all end with our blood!”
- A micareta is an off-season celebration similar to Brazil’s Carnival festivities.