"To be truly radical is to make hope possible rather than despair convincing."
~ Raymond Williams.
Today, approximately 300 people gathered in Berlin to honor the life of Marielle Franco, the Black Brazilian queer socialist who was recently assassinated in Rio de Janeiro. As an elected representative of the PSOL party, she denounced police presence in poor and working class neighborhoods. Her comrades have pointed to that the political murder was an attempt to repress the growing resistance against the Temer regime. As they noted:
We have reached a limit point. We go to the streets to do justice for Marielle, and to keep alive his agenda: defending the life of the black and poor people of the peripheries of the country, and fighting for a dignified life for our people. To defend our freedoms, the little democracy we still have. For our rights!
A multiethnic group of people in Berlin, mostly speaking Portuguese convened at May-Ayim-Ufer. The event's location was admirable because it bears the name of the late Afro-German poet May Ayim, a public intellectual who sought make deep links within the African diaspora. Audre Lorde was her mentor and formative for her analysis about being a Black woman in Germany. Unfortunately, anti-Black racism in Germany contributed to her depression and eventual suicide in Kreuzberg, a neighborhood in central Berlin. Institutional racism does not only provide physical violence but it eats away at one's inner core.
Turning to today's solidarity demonstration, it was a moment for people to take stock of what happened to Marielle and all those who have stood up against racism and tyranny. The group encircled with a collection of notes and artifacts for Marielle. People sang Brazilian folk songs and Tracy Chapman's "Talking 'Bout a Revolution" showing the cultural and political links between Black people in Brazil and the United States. Yet, even deeper, the struggle to fight austerity alongside police brutality show how prescient Black lives are cut short. Nevertheless, Franco was a champion for the poor, a resident of the favela, and a freedom fighter. She opposed the militarization and the policing in her community. She looked to Black radical women such as Angela Davis to rally her community.
Her death is a tragedy, as is the murder of so many people who suffer from police brutality. Yet, this shock has awakened people globally in Brazil, North America, and here in Berlin, Germany. Black people in the United States and in Brazil have been fighting back and the world is seeing the contradictions in societies that proclaim to be egalitarian yet use reveal massive inequalities. What Mike Brown's murder in 2014 and Marielle Franco's murder show is that all it takes a spark to reveal the rage that Black people--and the oppressed more broadly--feel in society but once we gather in mass, we can begin to break the chains.
Berlin acknowledged despair and Marielle's passing but the demonstration displayed a declaration of hope, love and solidarity. May her memory flare like a phoenix rising from the ashes.