As I’ve written yesterday a “hip-hop” video made my day. Here is the video: WHO WE BE by Thenmozhi Soundararajan:
Isn’t that impressive?
So starting from this video, Thenmozhi and I made an interview experiment – interview as a chat (unfiltered). (SKYPE was really bad today!!!)
Is this movie your explanation of WE?
I think this piece had multiple audiences and this is it what happens when you create a piece of viral media for communities. In some way it was our experiment at trying to bring communication rights to a broader audience than academics and policy people. And also help our communities think broader about political engagement and media justice than just reforming media images, lets renvion the whole system and our relationships to it.
Initally this piece was created for a hip hop summit and the WE, was talking about was young women of color who were being marginalized in hip hop, virtual, and political spaces. But we did not want to be left out of the discourse as only subjects in media, or as content creators, we also wanted to talk about how we were not involved in the envisioning of appropriate technology.
What is the power behind your political engagement?
The power behind my activism comes from my family. As an untouchable our culture and our history was basis for our resistance. We in fact prefer the term Dalit, which is where I get my performance alias Dalit Diva. Most people see the term and experience of being Dalit as a hard thing, but not as a beautiful experience. I treasure my family and our community experience, and its why I love to share our history as the Dalit diva …
What does “intouchable” mean? I know the expression “Dalit” …
Untouchablity: comes from the idea that the lowest castes in india were :untouchable because we were born into caste professions that made us spiritually impure to other castes. As a result we were not allowed to live in the same parts of the village, we could not farm, and we had to scavenge and eat meat. In the Indian caste system, a Dalit, often called an untouchable, or an outcaste, is a person who according to traditional Hindu belief does not have any “varnas”. Varna refers to the Hindu belief that most humans were supposedly created from different parts of the body of the divinity Purusha. The part from which a varna was supposedly created defines a person’s social status with regard to issues such as whom they may marry and which professions they may hold. Dalits fall outside the varnas system and have historically been prevented from doing any but the most menial jobs. (However, a distinction must be made between lower-caste people and Pariahs.) Included are leather-workers (called chamar), carcass handlers (called mahar),poor farmers and landless labourers, night soil scavengers (called bhangi or chura), street handicrafters, folk artists, street cleaners, dhobi, etc. Traditionally, they were treated as pariahs in South Asian society and isolated in their own communities, to the point that even their shadows were avoided by the upper castes. Discrimination against Dalits still exists in rural areas in the private sphere, in ritual matters such as access to eating places and water sources. It has largely disappeared, however, in urban areas and in the public sphere, in rights of movement and access to schools. The earliest rejection of discrimination, at least in spiritual matters, was made as far back as the Bhagavada Gita, which says that no person, no matter what, is barred from enlightenment There are an estimated 160 million Dalits in India.
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You are a filmmaker, singer … what touches the biggest part in your heart?
For me singing, performance is a current, and as a performer you are a circuit who shares the current, the energy of your experience with the audience. I love sharing and building community with my audiences by tapping into that current and helping myself and the audience transcend to a higher place together. A lot of my songs look and the the pain and the beauty of broken communities trying to come back together. I hope my songs can lift up some of that pain and bring it to light. One of the songs I am working on the first line is “You are only as sick as the secrets your keep…” Which is true for all of us.” When we are dealing with so much structural oppression our homes becomes pressure cookers
And we turn on each other, hurt each other, compete with each, as if there is a limited amount of resources. But the scarcity of resources is a free market myth. And that is why as artist we must show the parallel is true also. That collaboration, healing, and community can also be a light in this time of darkness.
Thanks Thenmozhi, I enjoyed very much talking to you.
Part 2 will follow as audio!