Saturday, May 06, 2006

RIP Damu Smith & Comandante Ramona

Janinsanfran's Happening Here blog, one of my favorites!, is reporting the sad Cinco de Mayo death of Brother Damu Smith, founder of Black Voices for Peace and executive director of the National Black Environmental Justice Network, and lifelong anti-apartheid, anti-racist, social justice activist - what a tremendous loss to many of our movements -

I never reported also on my sadness at the January passing of Comandante Ramona of the EZLN. Zapatista leader Marcos wrote in 1996 of Ramona's importance to our movements - Our word is our weapon - 12 women in the 12th year.
Comandante Ramona's size and brilliance will surprise the international press when she appears in the Cathedral—where the first Dialogues for Peace are held—and pulls from her backpack the national flag, seized by the major on January. Ramona does not know it then, nor do we, that she carries an illness that takes huge bites of her body, eats away at her life and dims her voice and her gaze. Ramona and the major, the only women in the Zapatista delegation who show themselves to the world for the first time, declare, "For all intents and purposes, we were already dead. We meant absolutely nothing." With these words they can almost convey the humiliation and abandonment. The major translates to Ramona the questions of the reporters. Ramona nods and understands, as though the answers she is asked for had always been there, in her tiny figure that laughs at the Spanish language and at the ways of the city women. Ramona laughs when she does not know she is dying. And when she knows, she still laughs.
Before she did not exist for anyone; now she exists, as a woman, as an indigenous woman, as a rebel woman. Now Ramona lives, a woman belonging to that race that must die in order to live ...
For more on Ramona see or
Tonight during my storytelling time, I will try to tell my 6 year old daughter Jade of the great stories of Commandante Ramona and brother Damu Smith, for they live on in the memories of our children who will undoubtedly carry on their struggles.
Remember the fighting spirit and leadership of Damu Smith and Comandante Ramona of the EZLN!

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