Revolutionary Mothering in Northern Cauca, Colombia
| By Manuel Matos
In a most timely anthology, “Revolutionary Mothering: Love on the Front Lines” a new generation of writers, poets, activists, and mothers elaborate on the powerful evocations of their foremothers to highlight a radical reframing of mothering as a social, rather than biological, “practice of creating, nurturing, affirming and supporting life.”
“We invite all the women anywhere in the world who have given birth to life, we who have given birth to humanity, to continue giving birth to the liberty of our peoples. To continue giving birth to liberty for nature, and for this humanity that is at the brink of collapse” – Francia Marquez – Spokeswoman of the Black Women’s Mobilization for the Care of Life and Ancestral Territories
“Those of us who nurture the lives of those children who are not supposed to exist, who are not supposed to grow up, who are revolutionary in their very beings are doing some of the most subversive work in the world. If we don’t know it, the establishment does.” – Alexis Pauline Gumbs –Revolutionary Mothering.
In discussing their editorial work, Mai’a Williams and Alexis Pauline Gumbs, raise the question of what and how it means to mother while at the front lines of resistance in both material and imaginary senses. For Black Women in Northern Cauca, the assault on their ability to care for themselves, each other, their children and their communities, places them on the front lines of countless intersecting fronts. From food sovereignty, to environmental justice; liberatory health systems, to autonomous economies and governance, Black Women in Northern Cauca are desperately struggling to bring to life a future of peace and safety.
Over the past week, hundreds of black women from the region of Northern Cauca, in southwestern Colombia have been participating in the National Inter-Ethnic Agrarian Protest. They have been blocking the Panamerican Highway and other primary roads throughout the region as part of a national protest of black, indigenous, and campesino communities demanding just agricultural policies, collective land titling, and an end to state and paramilitary threats, assassinations, and displacement. For the sisters of the Black Women’s Mobilization for the Care of Life and the Ancestral Territories their decision to participate in the national protest was an act of Revolutionary Mothering: “We simply said that The People are protesting and that we, caretakers of life and our ancestral territories had to be a part of it, and we have been.”
Just over a year and a half ago, dozens of the women now engaged in the ongoing National Inter-Ethnic Agrarian Protest marched form their ancestral community to the capital city of Bogota, where they went on to occupy the ministry of interior until competent authorities were sent to negotiate in good faith. That mobilization captured national and international attention, as the women articulated their acts of resistance as necessary acts of mothering their lands, their children, their families and each other. Speaking against the pressures that would force them to flee from their ancestral rural homes, to the dangers of the city Francia Marquez, spokeswoman of the mobilization stated:
“We are not willing to be one more [of the 4 million displaced Colombians]. We are not willing to have our children in the streets, and having people in suit and ties treating them as if they were garbage. We are willing to remain in our territories. Because the territory, to us, has been our father, has been our mother, and it will continue to be for our children.”
Four weeks ago, the Black Women’s Mobilization participated in three days of protests of organized by the Association of Community Councils of Northern Cauca (ACONC), a regional organization made up by the various black communities that inhabit the region. They faced off against riot police who indiscriminately fired tear gas into homes, leading to the hospitalization of 3 babies.