Field Report From #BrazilMDGs : Rap Music Creates Social Equality, Awareness, & Human Connection

Field Report From #BrazilMDGs : Rap Music Creates Social Equality, Awareness, & Human Connection

rappers copy

Centro Cultural Sao Paulo

Our visit to Sao Paulo with The International Reporting Project was coming to a close.   After a very hectic day of Community heath visits and chatting with doctors, nurses, and community health workers, we just had to do something very cool. And what nicer thing than to rap our way into it?

We met the awesome International acclaimed Brazilian rap group at Centro Cultural Sao Paulo, and it was a great honor to be in their presence.

In the 1990s a musical style known as rap consciencia (socially conscious rap) originated in Brazil. These days it is making huge waves and improving the lives of people by making them socially conscious of their choices, their lifestyles, rights, issues, and gently coaxes them to dream of things which generally are taboo to dream about, for the Afro-Brazilian ethnicity.

Criolo was 11 years old when he started writing lyrics and now he has chart busters in London, New York and Paris. At the tender age of 11 he wrote about social issues. Social inequality is a major problem in Brazil. There is still prejudice across Brazil.

Criolo said, “there are so many ways to live. To wake up, to eat, to get to work and then get some money and then to eat again, is one way. If that is to live, it means people sell themselves for some food and money. That is just a process. Stop it. Live life. Let us talk about ourselves, our passions and aspirations and our joys.”

Rael da Rima was 11 when his music band used to talk about social injustice, racism, and equality to all. He talked a little bit about his personal life, and how rap music changed his life, and the lives of people living around him.

He said, “I give you an analogy for the social inequalities in Sao Paulo. Some people use this mineral water (indicating the drinking water on the table) to wash their BMW cars, and yet some do not have access to clean drinking water. Sao Paulo is a city of extreme contrasts.  I sing so that people consciously become aware of their own lives and strive to improve it.”

Rael singing of his passion for rap music:

Emicida says, “When I was young, to get into college was not something youngsters would think about. Just to let the day go by was an accomplishment. Nowadays when I walk through the favela(slum) I grew up in, I am so happy to see the youngsters talking about their dreams of being in college and to get a ‘real’ job. When slavery was abolished, it was both a curse and boon. A curse because people were pushed into poverty and violence with no support system, a lot of confusion, and no real understanding of what was happening in society or the political and economic scenario of the country. My rap is to inspire people to talk about their dreams, how to get out of social inequalities and to be truly free. In everyone there is a human being and I wish for each one to know it. Through rap music, the magic of communication is established, and people are inspired to know themselves as such.”

Emicida singing for World Moms Blog

Flora Matos was 18 when she decided to move to Sao Paulo from Brasilia. She sings so people are free of sexual prejudice. She says her music always speaks of love – love for all kinds of people – love for humanity as a whole and breaking anything which could make people hate each other.

Flora Matos singing of love – love for people, passions, and love for all of humanity

These musicians and others like them are not people who sign on big labels or crave all of the fame and popularity. They just want justice, recognition of the minorities as human beings, and some peace for their community. And they do it through rap music.

They sing about poverty, prejudice, abuses of various types, about the blacks and whites in Brazil, and the classes. Flora said, all her numbers are characterized by experiences, either her own, a friends or someone she knows about. So this idea of communication which Emicida says – that is the magical bond – is established. This communication through music is not just passing of information or ideas or activism – it is an expression to bond humanity, a gentle prod to awake, and be aware. So through the actual performance the listeners carry back this vital element of being part of the movement.

So even though they do not directly change anything, or may not be able to give statistics and figures, they change attitudes, and invest in developing agents of change – which is a very vital thing to forge a developing society, progressing towards success.

I am not a big fan of music, not even Indian music, but that day I promised Criolo I would look him up on Youtube. He was mildly surprised to know that I came for a meeting with rap artists when I was not into music at all. I explained that it was because I learnt they worked for social causes through music, and I was interested in that. He wished me luck and said he would look up World Moms Blog too and we parted.

Just for fun, I also recorded some street musicians the other day in Sao Paulo’s Avenida Paulista, one of the poshest locality in Sao Paulo. I cant help sharing the below one.

This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Purnima Ramakrishnan, our Indian mother writing from Chennai, India. Her contributions to the World Moms Blog can be found here. She also rambles at The Alchemist’s Blog.

Photo credit to the author.

Purnima Ramakrishnan is a fellow of Journalism with the International Reporting Project (IRP), reporting from Sao Paulo, Brazil. Follow on Twitter at #BrazilMDGs

Purnima Ramakrishnan

Purnima Ramakrishnan is an UNCA award winning journalist and the recipient of the fellowship in Journalism by International Reporting Project, John Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. Her International reports from Brazil are found here . She is also the recipient of the BlogHer '13 International Activist Scholarship Award . She is a Senior Editor at World Moms Blog who writes passionately about social and other causes in India. Her parental journey is documented both here at World Moms Blog and also at her personal Blog, The Alchemist's Blog. She can be reached through this page . She also contributes to Huffington Post . Purnima was once a tech-savvy gal who lived in the corporate world of sleek vehicles and their electronics. She has a Master's degree in Electronics Engineering, but after working for 6 years as a Design Engineer, she decided to quit it all to become a Stay-At-Home-Mom to be with her son!   This smart mom was born and raised in India, and she has moved to live in coastal India with her husband, who is a physician, and her son who is in primary grade school.   She is a practitioner and trainer of Heartfulness Meditation.

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WASHINGTON, USA: Unintentional Acts of Inspiration

WASHINGTON, USA: Unintentional Acts of Inspiration

edWP_20140320_10_57_40_ProI was mentally sabotaging my morning run before the day even started. I laid in bed the night before thinking about how I was getting to sleep too late after eating too much junk when I knew I was coming down with a cold. I had not set myself up for success and felt guilty. I tried to tell myself if I was that beat tomorrow, I would skip it. I woke up in the middle of the night twice for other reasons but couldn’t help but think of how I tired I would feel come morning.

As I prepped the kids for school and got through breakfast with way too much coffee, I told myself how I was not well-hydrated and would be dragging. Should I even go? I kept moving but my inner voice whispered that I could just walk today if I felt overwhelmed. That voice said, “Listen to your body. If you don’t feel up to it, don’t do it.” Then a competing inner voice mocked, “But it’s your own fault for not feeling up to it, so go suffer through it.” I carried on.

When I got to the trail, I saw flashing lights up ahead. I almost stopped, thinking I should not run that way. However, I pushed on telling myself to see what the lights were about before bailing. They were just for a parked maintenance vehicle being unloaded, so I jogged on.

I was sluggish the whole time. I felt slow, heavy and bummed about not taking better care of myself. Still, I kept going. I told myself I would cut it short if it felt like too much, but then I knew the negative self-talk would grow. My knee was a little achy, and my spirits were low. Nonetheless, I kept putting one foot in front of the other and tried to lose myself in some music.

Then I spotted a young woman I often see on the trail. She is gorgeous with long hair, bright eyes, and slim body. She usually takes long walks, and we exchange waves and smiles as I go past. Today as we crossed paths, she was jogging. She stopped and told me in a panting voice that I had inspired her to stop walking and start running the trail. I congratulated her on her efforts, and we both went on our ways. All of a sudden, I was lighter. I ran without issue. I didn’t think of my knee, my weight or my tiredness. I just ran and finished up the run on a high note.

Her simple compliment made such a difference on my perspective. This beautiful woman told me I had kicked her butt into gear. I had fallen into the trap of cutting myself down mentally while assuming this other gal had it all together. How could she not?

But we all have stuff. We all have the stories we tell ourselves.

I’m an upbeat person who usually focuses on the good, but like everybody, I have days (like today) when I focus on the bad. The fact that this gal stepped out of her comfort zone both to run and to tell me, a stranger, that I had inspired her to do so snapped my head back on straight. Her gesture reminded me of a few things that I know to be true:

1)      Just getting out and taking each step counts, even if it’s not your best performance. Looking back, I placed so many obstacles in my own path for this run, but I pushed past each one. Not my best run, but I still did it. That is worth something.

2)      There is always going to be someone achieving in an area that you are not. Someone will always be smarter, thinner, happier, healthier, wealthier, etc. It’s okay to admire or be inspired by that someone, but do not judge yourself harshly by that someone. Measure yourself against yourself.

3)      Everybody has challenges and doubts going on. Everybody. We’re human. We’re not perfect.

4)      It never hurts to tell someone, even a passerby, something nice. You may just change their whole day. You may just change their whole life. Kind words are that powerful.

My trail acquaintance probably has no idea how much her words impacted my day. When I see her next time, I’ll tell her. Plus, I feel prompted to tell someone else how they inspired me. I have been meaning for some time to tell a certain person how they unknowingly helped me to make a life change for the better. I haven’t done so yet, despite ample opportunity, because I don’t want to seem too familiar to an acquaintance. However, today has taught me that hearing you changed someone for the better is never too familiar.

Have you received an unexpected compliment that changed your day? Is there someone who has unknowingly inspired you to try something new, and have you told them?

This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Tara B. of Washington (State), USA.

Photo credit to the author. 

Tara Bergman (USA)

Tara is a native Pennsylvanian who moved to the Seattle area in 1998 (sight unseen) with her husband to start their grand life adventure together. Despite the difficult fact that their family is a plane ride away, the couple fell in love with the Pacific Northwest and have put down roots. They have 2 super charged little boys and recently moved out of the Seattle suburbs further east into the country, trading in a Starbucks on every corner for coyotes in the backyard. Tara loves the outdoors (hiking, biking, camping). And, when her family isn't out in nature, they are hunkered down at home with friends, sharing a meal, playing games, and generally having fun. She loves being a stay-at-home mom and sharing her experiences on World Moms Network!

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