Graff Grrlz News: Malala Yousafzai visits Rede Nami #MalalaNaNAMI

On July 11th, Malala Yousafzai visited Panmela Castro’s (aka Anarkia Boladona) urban art organization Rede Nami. Not one to let anyone walk away without picking up a can, Panmela invited Malala and her group to spray paint with a stencil. Malala chose to paint one depicting the late feminist activist #MarielleFranco.

Encounters like this make my heart happy because that’s how I respond to transnational feminism in action and feminism without borders. Two powerhouse women doing their thing to make this world better. The visit was well documented and I encourage you to visit Nami’s site, Facebook page, and/or Instagram for photographs and video recordings.

In my book, Graffiti Grrlz, I write about my visit with Rede Nami in 2010. Hard to believe it was that long ago. In celebration of their meeting and the conitnued fulfillment of the promise of Nami, I offer you some small excerpts from the chapter.

          Witnessing the empowering effect Nami has on women and girls and the community that formed around their graffiti making reawakened my “communal” feminist sensibilities and further validated my unwavering belief in the revolutionary potential of graffiti art. […]

          Anarkia’s passion for her work is what Augusto Boal calls an “ ‘enacted’ faculty, a faculty that [has become] a concrete act,” as demonstrated by the consistent performance of feminism in her behavior, her discourse, and her graffiti. The production in Lapa and the smaller work in Rocinha depend on some of the tactics outlined in Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed, practices which Nami often employs in their capacity-building activities. Taking graffiti making out from under the cover of anonymity and the dark of night allows the experienced and aspiring writers of Nami to develop a participatory audience that is conscious of the feminist concerns of the collective. The crowd that gathers on the street as they paint is almost always invited to attend the next lecture or activity. Anarkia purposefully structured Nami, with the help of the director’s team, to “change the ways the girls think about feminism by showing them how to do it themselves.” […]

Taking place in the public sphere, accessible and welcoming to onlookers and passersby, Nami provides not only the time, space, and materials needed for these women and girls to feel like and become agents in making Rio de Janeiro more beautiful, but also the confidence needed to feel like and become valuable culture makers resisting heteropatriarchal juridical, social, economic and political systems that restrict their safety and civil liberties. Nami teaches girls and women about feminism by giving them an opportunity to feel it first through performance.

And because it is still technically Friday, here are some #FlashBackFriday photographs of those early years.

Author: Jessica N. Pabón-Colón

Dr. Jessica N. Pabón-Colón is an Assistant Professor of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at SUNY New Paltz. She published her first book—Graffiti Grrlz: Performing Feminism in the Hip Hop Diaspora— with NYU Press in June 2018.

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