27 maio 2019

To celebrate rebellious feminism in defense of education. About 23M heading to the 30M.

Many friends have discussed the world situation of our people and the advances of ultraconservative sectors in several countries. No, women do not just discuss “gender issues”. We have opinions about everything that can be said. The difference is our ideas are generally seconded, usurped or erased.

In Brasil – the country of the future – for months we have been going through the whole orchestrated chaos of  Bolsonaro’s government and the scandalous intra-bourgeois fights that unfolds in the daily newspaper headlines. A government like Bolsonaro’s does not mean the emergence of oppression and genocide, but it means that these things now are present in the discourse of the main figures of power, as prejudiced and reactionary as they are; a discourse that legitimizes, strengthens and intensifies the process, ignoring the protocols of bourgeois-democratic makeup.

For those who are poor, peripheric [1], black, indigenous or afroindigenous, the siege tightens. It is as if we were like the secundaristas [2] (autonomous high school movement) in the demonstration yesterday, May 23: surrounded by repression, without support of large structures and feeling the siege tightens, squeezing out our lives and suffocating our breaths.

Demonstration against the cuts in education on May 23 at Av. Paulista.

The indigenous pointed out a path of struggle and began the year carrying out direct actions to confront the already precarious life they are subjected to, with very few land demarcations over the years, the scrapping of public agencies responsible for indigenous issues, and suffering all kind of brutal genocidal violence.

Looking at the indigenous people in struggle helps us to have a horizon, much more than looking at the structures, organizations or bodies bureaucratically embedded.

For months educators have also struggled: against Sampaprev [3] (private pension funds), against the worker’s pension reforms and now the struggle in defense of education and against the cuts. This takes the form of a wave of protests together with university students, researchers, university workers and high school students.

The main unity that we, activists against the capital, should seek is the one built from the relations of trust with our people, with those who suffer the most and who most urgently need a revolution because they are being exterminated.

Yesterday’s demonstration was difficult; the entities did not support with present bodies and many even tried to disencourage the secundaristas, saying that they would be dividing our unity. What unity? That’s what I’d like to ask.

In this sense, to agree or disagree with the high school students is something that any of us can do and sustain arguments, but not being on the side when they mobilize knowing how much the public school youth has been oppressed is a mistake. A mistake that does not point to the construction of the unity that we seek, it’s the reverse.

But the new generations seem to give us more lessons than we would like to see and even with the abandonment and lack of support for yesterday’s act, the secundaristas block will be present in the act of the 30th of May, called by the entities, because they are the ones seeking to unify. In practice, not empty rhetorics that actually mean “if we are not in control of what can happen, then we won’t participate”.

The feminist movement has also constructed very precious attempts of unity. The attempts to recover many women injured by sexist’s silencing and invisibilization, happening even in left-wing and militant spaces.

An important lesson that the secundaristas movement can use to strengthen its struggles is to think and always look if the female students are comfortable, if they are feeling respected and heard in the forums where resistance and debates are built. If the students feel good in the struggle, our strength increases in streets demonstrations and also in the daily work in schools.

May we be able to learn from each other.

May we strengthen each other.

Let us be better prepared for another chance the struggle gives us to revolutionize ourselves and the way we do things and the world around us.

By Helena Silvestre – favelada [4] and afroindigenous activist, strengthening the struggle for liberation of homeless bodies, landless, blacks and indigenous, in which I’m part of. Self proclaimed writer, student of Public Health and clandestine educator. Marxist by claim, anthropologist by enjoyment of knowing the differences, a cryer, because I’m a Leon and apprentice of agroecology, from astrology and cultures of the orixás [5]. An editor of Amazonas Magazine and part of Luta Popular [6].  

Translation notes’

[1] The word “peripheric” in Brazilian portuguese means not only the group of countries that are underdeveloped and exploited by developed countries, but also the areas in the cities that are far from the city centre and their residents. These areas are usually home to poor black and indigenous people, “commuter towns” with little access to public health, education and transportation and a huge presence of police violence, like the “blocks” in USA.

[2] “Secundaristas” is how the autonomous high school movement in Brazil is usually referred. It means literally “high school students”. Since 2015, in São Paulo, they are leading the struggle for a public education of quality. Responsible for the occupations of 200 schools in 2016. And now, since May 15th, the first big wave of protests for education, they are articulating nationally and internationally to strengthen the struggle for public education.

[3] SAMPAPREV is a private pension anti-populist project that establishes cuts in the social security discount from 11 to 14%, up to 19%, depending on the salary range, and can reduce wages up to 46.5%.

[4] Favelada/o/x; an adjective used to describe a person born and raised in the “favelas”.

[5]  Orixás are deities of several major religions in the the African diaspora, of African influences.

[6] Luta Popular is a Brazilian homeless movement responsible for many occupations in the whole country.

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