February 7th marked four months since the beginning of the Israeli onslaught on Gaza in which the Palestinian people are suffering a genocide and the Occupation Forces have murdered 28,000 people – 12,000 children and 8,000 women. There are 8,000 people missing. 67,000 people are wounded and injured, including more than 1,000 boys and girls who have lost one or more limbs in the bombings. 90% of the population is forcibly displaced. All this in an area 200 times smaller than Chiapas (365 km2) and with half its population (2.3 million).
To mark the date, Acción Palestina Chiapas coordinated the regular Wednesday movie night at Sendas as a solidarity action with the Palestinian people. But it was much more than just a movie night. The evening focused on the hip hop movement as a channel of indigenous resistance to colonialism and capitalism both in the Occupied Territories and here in Chiapas.
The movie, ‘’Slingshot Hip Hop’’, is a 2008 documentary directed by Jackie Reem Salloum. It covers the history and evolution of hip hop among Palestinian youth from its beginnings with the DAM crew in the late 1990s. It weaves together the stories of young Palestinian artists living in Gaza, the West Bank and also within Israel as they discover hip hop and use it as a tool to unite and overcome the physical and geographical divisions imposed by the occupation and the inequality caused by the apartheid system of Zionism.
Since its birth in New York in the 70s, hip hop has been a voice of protest for Afro-descendant and Latino populations, a call to social struggle against racism and social injustice and an expression of the rage felt from the socio-economic conditions that these people live under. It has since been adopted by oppressed peoples around the world due to the resonance it has with them.
The documentary shows how the Palestinian indigenous people adopted hip hop as a form of expression of the daily reality of oppression that they experience in addition to being an artistic weapon of resistance against the Zionist colonialism of the State of Israel. As such, it became a source of unity and struggle, as well as an outlet for celebration of identity and hope for the future.
One of the aims of Sendas (pathways) is to be ‘’a point of confluence aimed at sparking the encounter –the encounter between projects and individuals…Sendas is an initiative…which intends to build a future…Our resistances cannot grow if we do not create the necessary dynamics to support cooperative, collective and creative processes.’’ In this tradition, and in the tradition of hip hop resistance, it was our pleasure to have the presence and participation of local hip hop collectives El Semillero 259 and Psicolexia Official, showing their solidarity with the Palestinian people with their music and words and weaving global networks of rebellion.
Left: Members of Semillero 259
Both of these groups have been active here in San Cristóbal de Las Casas organizing youth in the suburbs, offering them alternatives to the criminal subculture that has been slowly creeping into the barrios, and also extending hope for the future in another possible world. They responded very positively to the film and could easily relate to the content, in terms of shared experiences of the challenges of daily life and struggle, their love of the artistic form, and how hip hop has become a focal point for communication and bringing people together in their communities, while also feeling connected to greater global struggles as in the case of the Palestinians who addressed the world through the screen.
El Semillero 259 is active in the northern zone of San Cristóbal and represents an innovative mix of hip hop culture and agroecology. The kids from the crew gave us a wonderful mix of theater, breakdance and songs about compost and Californian red worms! They are one of a number of local collectives that benefitted from the plants produced from the Schools for Chiapas nursery.
They were followed by Psicolexia Oficial, who recently played in Dolores Hidalgo at the 30th anniversary of the Zapatista Uprising, and who rapped about the current social conditions here, their struggle against this as youth, and their visions of the future.
Rappers with Psicolexia Oficial perform at a solidarity event for Palestine in Sendas
The public was a mix of locals and people passing through, one of Palestinian descent and some of whom had been in the West Bank in 2023. They were all highly impressed and thoroughly enjoyed the night – the movie, the music, and the joining together of these two indigenous struggles. As many of them came along to our Thursday talk the following day, we were able to deepen the conversation, strengthen contacts and converge more global pathways.
Although this was an evening that was organized very much with the horrific events in Gaza in mind, paradoxically it ended on an almost joyous note, definitely the first time that those involved in Acción Palestina Chiapas had felt anything like this at any of the events they have previously organized. Despite everything, the Palestinian people continue to resist and we have no doubt that they will not lose their voice, their music, their identity, their dignity and will, sooner or later, recover their land and territory.
Original article by Schools for Chiapas.
Photos by Acción Palestina Chiapas and Sendas.