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Francia Márquez does not break glass ceilings


Understanding the arrival of the elected vice president of Colombia to power also implies understanding Afro feminism, linked to the Ubuntu philosophy that puts the collective before the individual, the 'I am because we are'

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By winning last Sunday's elections in Colombia together with Gustavo Petro, Francia Márquez made history.

This 40-year-old woman who was a teenage single mother, who left her house threatened with death for defending her land, who worked cleaning houses, who studied law, who won a Goldman Prize for the Environment and who was forged in the environmental struggle and before coming to power, she will be the first black vice president of a country where classism and racism are still very present.

For the first time, an Afro-descendant woman will occupy an office that has historically been reserved for the white elite and will do so with a left-wing government, something unprecedented in the country.

Her rise to the highest sphere of Colombian politics is also an assault on the power of the nobodies and fills with hope a sector of the country that had never been reflected in her political class.

“We achieved a government of the people, the government of ordinary people, the government of the nobodies and of the nobodies of Colombia,” she said in her first speech as vice president-elect.

"Let's go brothers and sisters to reconcile this nation, we're going for peace without fear, we're going for dignity, for justice, we women are going to eradicate the patriarchy of our country, we're going for the rights of our diverse LGBTIQ+ community, we're going for the rights of our mother earth,

His triumph carved from the margins is also that of the Afro and indigenous communities of Colombia and America and that of the pan-Africanist Ubuntu philosophy, the one that moves Márquez and whose motto is 'I am because we are'.

"She is because before were the political struggles of our peoples that, despite stigmatization, racism, persecution, exile and murder, have had transcendental achievements that make them benchmarks in Latin America and the world," writes Velia Vidal.

Her figure explains, in part, the massive vote that the Historical Pact had in areas of the Colombian Pacific, cradle of the largest Afro communities in the country.

My favorite part of how Black people welcomed Colombia's vice president-elect Francia Márquez are tweets saying she look like everybody auntie.

Nigerians calling her Nkechi and Iyabo, Kenyans calling her Khakasa, and US folks calling her Kimberly😂😂 We all the same blood🤎🤎🤎🤎

— Uju Anya (@UjuAnya) June 20, 2022

Additionally, Márquez's rise has especially inspired black and minority women around the world.

“What I like most about how black people have celebrated the election of Vice President-elect Francia Márquez are the tweets saying that she looks like everyone's aunt.

The Nigerians are calling her Nkechi and Iyabo, the Kenyans Khakasa and the Americans Kimberly.

We share the same blood,” tweeted Uju Anja, a Carnegie Mellon University professor in a message that accompanies three photos of Márquez in her colorful dresses: one with her left fist raised and looking defiantly at the camera, another with a smirk. ear to ear and a third of her speaking at a lectern.

For the US congresswoman of Puerto Rican origin Alexandria Ocasio Cortez,

the election of Francia Márquez as vice president sends a “historic message”.

“My mom was also a domestic worker.

Seeing the stories of so many people like hers and seeing how far they can go is profound, ”she said this week in statements to the press.

While for the Brazilian journalist Carol Pires, Márquez's triumph means, in a way, resurrecting Marielle Franco, the Brazilian politician and activist assassinated in 2018, who also shared the Ubuntu philosophy.

Márquez follows in the footsteps of other black women in the region who have reached positions traditionally not reached by those who look like them.

In America, there has only been one president of African origin: the Haitian Ertha Pascal-Trouillot.

It was so provisionally for 11 months between 1990 and 1991. In addition, there are two precedents for vice presidents: the American Kamala Harris and the Costa Rican Epsy Campbell, who until last May was number two in the Government of Costa Rica and with whom the environmental leader met this Friday.

But despite being one of the pioneers of the continent, Francia Márquez does not believe that she is breaking any glass ceiling, a term more associated with white feminism.

Thank you @FranciaMarquezM, first Afro-Colombian Vice President, who makes history for her commitment to equality, climate justice, women's rights, Afro-descendants and excluded people! We will work together to advance a new world of peace, love and justice!

— Epsy Campbell (@epsycampbell) June 24, 2022

“I'm not here to break glass ceilings;

that's for women like Hillary Clinton.

I come to seek the demands that correspond to us”, she said at a campaign event with peasant women from the Valle de Aburrá organized by the women's political movement We Are Ready.

Understanding the arrival of Francia Márquez to power also implies understanding Afro feminism, closely linked to the Ubuntu philosophy that puts the collective before the individual and that "puts not only women in the conversation, but all the people who are read as subalternas”, explains from Bogotá the feminist writer Carolina Rodríguez Mayo, creator of the podcast

Manifiesto Cimarrón

, where she addresses issues of blackness and resistance.

“One does not think of the self as an individual breaking glass ceilings, but thinks: it does not matter how many glass ceilings I break if there are still within the social dynamics in which I move women murdered for being who they are, environmental women who they cannot say: 'the river is being polluted' because they are murdered,” says Rodríguez Mayo.

In this chain of 'I am because we are', ancestors, nature and spirituality are also taken into account.

“Ubuntu does not think about empty representations but rather seeks to understand what we are still working on.

What this woman has left is a lot of work and she recognizes it.

And she is recognized by Colombian society itself when they interview her and realize that there is a terrible racial bias, a terrible class bias because she comes from a very popular sector”, she adds.

At 31 years old, Rodríguez Mayo says that in his life he never imagined being able to see someone like Francia Márquez reach such a high political position.

And although she says that, as an Afro woman, seeing herself reflected phenotypically in women who reach positions of power is "a hug to the girl who did not see those things while she was growing up", it is not the most important thing.

"The more you navigate the subject of Afrofeminism and the social sciences, the more critical you become about how representativeness has to do with the phenotype," she explains, giving the example of Kamala Harris, whose arrival she celebrated, especially after the government " so difficult and so racist” of Donald Trump, but with whom he does not share many ideas.

“I see myself more in academic women like Ochy Curiel and Angela Davis or in Francia Márquez.

It's not just women I see myself in physically,

rather, they are women who are working not for visibility, but to help repair the social fabric.

Any human being who does that, for me, is representing something in which I rest as a person.

If he phenotypically resembles me, well, better, because it obviously means that he came with some difficulties and obstacles that speak to mine”.

⚡Bonus: Abortion is no longer a constitutional right in the US

“A political, economic or religious crisis will be enough for women's rights to be questioned again.

These rights are never taken for granted, they must remain vigilant throughout their lives” (Simone de Beauvoir)

Robin Gwak, a 20-year-old girl, demonstrates in Washington this Saturday in a march in favor of reproductive rights. EVELYN HOCKSTEIN (REUTERS)

  • What happened:

    The Supreme Court has struck down the right to abortion in the United States.

    It was not a surprise after a draft was leaked months ago, but that has not made it less shocking news.

    In a ruling issued this Friday, a majority of six judges against three decided to overturn the precedent of 'Roe v. Wade', a 1973 ruling that made the voluntary interruption of pregnancy constitutional.

    Its protection is now in the hands of each of the 50 States of the country.

  • Because right now:

    Although the precedent of 'Roe v. Wade' had already been challenged in court on multiple occasions, it has not been repealed until now.

    This has been possible thanks to the conservative majority of the Supreme Court that was conceived during the presidency of Donald Trump, which appointed three of the nine members of the highest court and molded it to suit him.

    "Roe v. Wade was egregiously wrong from the start," writes conservative Justice Samuel Alito, author of the court's majority opinion in a 79-page brief arguing that abortion is a "deep moral issue" that raises opposite”.

    The composition of the court, moreover, raises the fear of further setbacks in social matters.

    Judge Clarence Thomas requests, in a concurring dissenting opinion, that the Supreme Court reconsider other precedents,

  • Why it matters:

    The decision of the US Supreme Court leaves 36 million Americans of reproductive age unprotected, those who live in states where access to abortion is in danger.

    The sentence leaves reproductive rights in the hands of state governments: 13 have restrictive laws that have already entered into force or will do so soon.

    In addition, five have pre-1973 standards ready to go.

    This will especially affect women belonging to racial minorities, marginalized groups and the lower classes, as María Antonia Sánchez-Vallejo told in


    when the draft of the sentence was leaked.

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Source: elparis

All news articles on 2022-06-26

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