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Andean priest and spiritual leader, Don Fabian Champi Apaza. Photo by Tom Pablo, Andes & Amazon Semester.

Pre-Course Assignment

Eduardo Galeano’s Open Veins of Latin America details the immense violence, racism, and exploitation of the Latin American people and land.  The song “Latinoamerica” by Calle 13 seems to be a response to the history of violence and exploitation detailed in the passage. In the beginning of the song, “Latinoamerica” appears to acknowledge the exploitative history of Latin America and how that history remains a part of the people who live there today– not as a source of weakness, but as a sign of strength.  As the song continues, the message seems to morph into a stance of resistance, a statement saying they will not allow future exploitation. The video shows people of all ages living their daily lives, walking through their towns, or on their land which works to humanize, or re-humanize, the people in the video after so many years of being violently treated as inferior.

I’ve always been proud to live in DC, because living in the U.S. capitol means living in the city where national resistance can lead to national change.  DC is the city where people come from around the country to fight against inequality and make their voices heard by the government.  The biggest affiliate marches of Black Lives Matter, March for Our Lives, the Women’s March, and People’s Climate March happen just a few metro stops away from me.  I’ve always been proud to march on the National Mall for the causes I believe in and I’ve always been proud that my high school created a space for us to discuss the various resistance movements unfolding a few blocks away from us.   However, when you live in a city that is constantly so focused on the “big picture” movements, it becomes easier to table the city’s own pressing issues. My old high school once went so far as to change the day’s schedule to make it easier for students to participate in a walkout for gun control (later inciting a school-wide debate about whether that demeaned the value/meaning of the walk out), but failed to create space or time to talk about the local issues that were right in front of us. For years, gentrification and displacement has been a problem in DC– dating back to the 1940’s with government sanctioned, racially based, “Urban Renewal,” and redlining.  Today, gentrification remains a huge issue in DC, targeting and displacing low income families. Low income housing in the district is increasingly hard to find. DC needs to work to improve tenant rights laws to ensure low income families affordable housing in the district.