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(en) Daybreak #3 - Words Like Freedom By Meghan Mahar

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>(http://free.freespeech.org/mn/daybreak!/article12.html)
Date Thu, 21 Nov 2002 06:54:29 -0500 (EST)


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There are words like Freedom
Sweet and wonderful to say.
On my heartstrings freedom sings
All day everyday.
There are words like Liberty
That almost make me cry.
If you had known what I know
You would know why.
-Langston Hughes

There are many ways in this world that authority dictates our
lives; laws, guidelines, and social taboos that prohibit you from
truly expressing how you feel about the world and how it is run.
One of the greatest ways in which these feelings and thoughts can
be expressed is through the written word. Independent magazines,
newspapers, fliers, the Internet, and the most visible medium;
Graffiti.

I think we all know the stigmas attached to graffiti. Vandalism,
gang activity, and no-good kids; that is the type of graffiti that gets
written about. In the last few decades, graffiti has been linked
almost exclusively to the hip-hop movement, but its roots go
much deeper than that. What stays under wraps is the graffiti that
is saving lives, changing societies, and making people think twice
about issues that affect how they live.

In every revolution in this world, graffiti has been used to create
social change. It is just one of the ways that a message can get to
the masses for little money and anonymously. A few years ago I
learned about a group of women in Bolivia who were using graffiti
as a political tool. They called themselves Mujeres Creando.
These women were risking their lives to change the way their
country was run. They addressed important womenıs issues,
using graffiti to tell more women about how General Hugo
Banzar, the dictator of Bolivia was giving women no choices in
their reproductive health. They spray painted slogans such as, ³If
Goni (General Banzar) had a uterus, abortion would be legal and
subject to privatization.² The group made graffiti into resistance
against the government, forging spaces of freedom and action for
oppressed Bolivians.

In the Sandinista Revolution in Nicaragua in the 1970ıs, graffiti
was used to expose the corruption of the government. In the
1980ıs right here in Minneapolis, the activist group RABL
(Revolutionary Anarchist Bowling League) painted ³Your taxes
pay for murder in South America² on arches on the Franklin
Avenue Bridge and organizations such as the Billboard Liberation
Front distort images and change the messages on billboards to
create alternative meanings.

These are just a few examples of how graffiti can be used as a
means of communication. Political graffiti is everywhere. A graffiti
writer and political activist from the United States who wishes to
remain anonymous, believes that there are many facets to graffiti.
"Graffiti defies the monopoly of capitalist communication." He
also says that graffiti is more symmetrical than other forms of
broadcast communication because almost everyone can broadcast
and receive, and even if it gets buffed the message has still been
received, at least by the buffer.

When you are driving past a train yard, a wall, or a building with
graffiti on it, what is your first response? For most I assume it
would be to look away, to not read what is written on the wall. I
encourage you to think again. Graffiti has been a means of
communication since cavemen where drawing symbols in caves.
There is something so raw and uncensored in graffiti that
sometimes it is hard to look, because you know deep down, that is
the truth. Words are freedom; they say what needs to be said.


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