For My Human Rights and Yours: I Am AfroResistance!


Source: Pexel/ RODNAE Productions


My name is Sara, I am 31 years old, I am a single mother. I was born in the Vereda del Panal, a beautiful territory located in the South of the Colombian Pacific, neglected by the different governments, and currently wanted and disputed by multinational and local interests. In my land there are brave, worthy, beautiful, and hard-working people; most of them are Black people. I am a mother, a daughter, a sister, a niece, a cousin, an aunt to people who are committed to defending and preserving our beloved territory. I come from a lineage of brave men and women, many of whom have lost their lives defending our territory; they have been tortured and imprisoned, like it happened to me and my mother.


At a young age, due to the lack of State protection and investment in the socioeconomic development of our region and, therefore, the lack of possibilities to survive, my family, like many others, was forced to leave the territory where we were born; we migrated within the country in search for a dignified life. However, the reality of Black people both inside and outside of the territories is the same: harassment, discrimination, mistreatment, and the constant violation of our dignity, of our Human Rights. I remember that at a young age I didn’t understand harassment and abuse. My innocence and faith in humanity made me question what we were experiencing through a lens of love, spirituality, and humanity. I certainly did not understand, I constantly wondered, “why so much coldness, why so much abuse if we’re all supposed to be daughters and sons of the same God?


Eventually, we returned to our territory. In my adulthood I inherited from my mother the love and commitment to fight for my land, to create a better world for my people, for future generations, for my daughter, for my mom, for ME!


The journey has not been easy. In 2009, we survived the overflow of the Mira River, and lost all our belongings and house since most of it was made of wood. In 2010, because of my activism, my family was threatened and displaced; we were forced to leave our homes. For a long time, we survived thanks to the solidarity and support of neighbors in other villages. In 2014, I was elected as a representative to the governing board of the Consejo Comunitario Alto Mira y Frontera (Alto Mira y Frontera Community Council). My work and that of other members of the Council became a threat to certain interests in the region. Both Gilmer Genaro García, the legal representative of the Community Council, and myself were threatened by members of the FARC guerrilla. Sadly, on August 3, 2015, Gilmer was murdered by the guerrilla and, once again, I was forced to leave my territory. I returned over a year later, at the beginning of 2017, and I was once again elected as a council’s representative. The threats and murders of Black leaders and activists who fought to protect our ancestors’ lands continued. This time, comrade José Jair Cortés, member of the governing board, as well as other community leaders, were murdered, tortured, or disappeared. The threats and persecutions against me and my family became untenable. Once again, we had to run away. The police located us and on April 20, 2018, they arrived with an arrest warrant; they arrested me and my mom. We were in prison for 15 months, held in a high-level penitentiary and prison center. My daughter was only eight years old and ended up being taken care of by neighbors and other people while I was in prison.


I am no longer the little girl who didn’t understand. Despite all the social and structural attempts to deny my humanity, I still exist. I am a strong mother and leader; I am proud of my roots and my ancestors. I am part of the AfroResistance team. I work hard to educate and raise awareness in our people, digging deep at the real roots of our problems: capitalism, racism, and patriarchy.


We focus on eliminating all the obstacles from the past that still exist, obstacles that make it possible for the capitalist, racist, and patriarchal system that governs us to exist and sustain itself from the exploitation of both our productive and reproductive work.


The experiences I lived, the traumas, and the constant violation of my Human Rights to exist with dignity, safety, and freedom; the violation of my reproductive rights to raise my daughter in decent and safe conditions, in addition to the study and analysis of the roots of the problems that affect Black lives, not only in Colombia, but throughout the world, made me understand that, to find a solution and demand justice and equity for my people, and particularly for Black women and girls, we need strategies and demands framed in a Human Rights context, and an intersectional focus founded on the analysis of gender-based, racial, economic, and violent abuse, including gender-based, interpersonal and state violence.


With AfroResistance we are working towards justice, equity and dignity for Black lives and territories. The women and girls from my community and in the region are invested and committed to healing generational traumas; we are transforming, reclaiming our dignity and turning our fighting and resilient spirit into strategies and vision to create the social changes that the Black territories of the Americas need, especially for the women and girls to feel safe, prosper, have access to quality education and healthcare, decent and safe housing on our ancestors’ land or wherever we choose, to have agency over our bodies, our families and our future. This is why I fight; I fight to protect and advance my Human Rights and yours. This is why I keep going, this why I am, for this and more AfroResistance!

 

On December 10, we celebrate the International Day of Human Rights. At AfroResistance, we will be commemorating with an event named: Human Rights – Gender, Justice, Equity and Reparations: Reimagining the Future of Black Communities in the Americas.

Time: 2:00 PM EST/COT, 4:00 PM BR/CH

Register here: https://bit.ly/humanrightsdayafroresistance