Let me rewind.
Zumbi, a Western African descendant related to the Kingo aristocracy was born free in Brazil in 1655 and killed on November 20, 1695. Zumbi was assassinated because he fought against slavery and colonialism.
Marielle Franco was born in July 1979 in a slum in Rio de Janeiro. Mariella Franco, was a grassroots organizer, human rights activist, and a Black lesbian feminist. An activist since she was 9 years old, she was a genuine representative of women, LGBT people, and poor and black people from the favelas. She gave birth to her only child when she was only 19 years old, and as a single mother she managed to earn a master’s degree in public administration. She became one of the most voted Rio de Janeiro City Council Members in the 2016 elections with over 46,500 votes, making her one of the 51 officials elected out of more than 1,500 candidates.
After giving a speech empowering Black women on March 14th, 2018, Marielle Franco was murdered. She was assassinated because her strong voice was a vigorous instrument in favor of human rights.
From Zumbi to Mariella, from the 17th to the 21st Century, the history hasn’t changed. Zumbi and Mariela are names that stand out because their status and leadership honor all of us who stand against injustice. However, we need to admit that activists are still being killed, as I type this article and as you read these lines. Voices that are not amplified by the media right now reporting cruelty.
Three hundred years after Zumbi, we are still fighting against “modern slavery” and we are still fighting for human rights. Statistics show that young black Brazilians are 70 percent of the population, that are murdered every year. Every 23 minutes, a black child is a victim of homicide according to a Brazilian Senate report in 2017.
The results aren’t much better in the USA, where the CDC reports that black children are 10 times more likely to victims of homicide, compared to their white counterparts.
We have fought against injustices for centuries, yet we are still fighting today.
However, knowing that the history repeats itself every single day for centuries and centuries, I am not hopeless. I can’t be. I see powerful voices multiplying and young people are no longer afraid to talk. I might not be around when change authentically happens, but I know that our consistency on stopping oppression and supporting youth leadership means that we are moving towards to building new leaders who will change the course of history.
One of those leaders is Beyoncé.
You read her name and you instantly feel better.
This past weekend Beyoncé headlined Coachella, and in doing so, was the first black woman to ever headline Coachella. Her two-hour performance featured a marching band straight out of black colleges, her husband Jay-Z, her sister Solange, a Destiny’s Child reunion, a beautiful rendition of the Negro National Anthem, and was “drippin” in Black Excellence. She was able to bring the joy that has been missing from life back to us. Her outfits reflected both the culture of the Black South and the culture of the people of the African diaspora. My daughters and I spent our Sunday morning watching and dancing to the greatest living performer…and it was exactly what we needed.
From the murder of Marielle in Brazil, to the murder of Stephon Clark, the arrest of two black men in Starbucks, the refusal to charge the officers that killed Alton Sterling, to the chemical attacks in Syria, and the US response to it, it has difficult to wake up every day and read the news. My Instagram and Twitter feeds have been of tears, of anger, and full of sadness.
That all changed with Beyoncé.
She reminded us of our humanity, of our beauty. When I write ‘us,’ I don’t just mean black peoples (although definitely black people), I mean civilization. The love on the stage was overwhelming. She, as always, has captured the zeitgeist of the times, and was able to turn it into love. I feel rejuvenated. I feel powerful. I feel human. I feel empowered.
Her art showed us that we are not forgotten. Her art showed us that we will be ok. Her art showed the world that nothing can stop a revolution. We need to join her in creating art for the people, by the people, about the people, and with the people. She showed us that we can only do it, together, as a family. She showed us, we are ALL Destiny’s Children.