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FLAG OF COMPASSION

stories:

Amsterdam, 25th of September, 2016

All of us for Every 1

On Sunday, the 25th, the sabbatical day of rest was unfolded into a day of collective mobilization and action in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

At the Amsterdam Bijlmer Arena we joined a lively group of people from the Nieuw Dakota, a platform for contemporary art on the IJ in Amsterdam North. It was the day of the Ieder1 parade and our purpose was to carry several samples of the Flag of Compassion along the way, walking an 8 km distance until reaching our final destination at Museumplein.

Attached to wooden flagpoles measuring between 2 to 3 meters of length, we were doubtful if the flags would be allowed in the event as the flagpoles could serve as weapons in case of a possible conflict. The flagpoles entered without a problem and so did or bodies. Soon we had forgotten any threatening connotations and started marching towards our destination.

Slowly we saw a yet small and scattered group of people grow into a condensed crowd. The initially modest general attitude developed into outspoken acts, revealing a series of collective applauses, singing, hugging and shouting of inspirational lines that guaranteed we should not be frightened to express opinion or claim to much space.

Carrying the Flag of Compassion, we were joined by representative voices of the Black Lives Matter; By the Zwarte Piet Is Racisme; By the LGBTQI, Surinamese, Muslim, African and Indigenous communities; By the Nieuwe Sint, the Dutch black Sinterklaas; By the workers of a famous coffee shop; By people of every age with their kids and kids of their kids; By people who never wished to have kids; By boats on the canals and by hundreds of curious faces in the windows along the streets.

Having started the walk as one distinct self-contained group, I observed our Flags gradually grow apart, unnoticeably taking distance form one another. We started to disperse, remerging with the crowd while our varied messages unified into a collective voice that wished to celebrate diversity in culture, religion, gender, sexuality, race and class.

I realised that no matter how long our flagpoles measured and what flags were they carrying, we were all present in this space together. We were all conveying one message while carrying our most powerful instrumentalized weapons: the diversity of our political bodies. In the times of a generalized rise of rage worldwide, of Brexit, Donald Trump, of Geert Wilders and with the Dutch elections around the corner, everything made sense and I felt suddenly embraced by a wave of hope.

As an immigrant who’s not able to understand more than 10% of what was said in a language still foreign to me, I understood that one’s birthplace shouldn’t matter more than one’s position and where that happens to be, for every place must be a safe place for everyone. No matter what language we’ll use to express our sense of collectiveness and care for each other’s rights, I left the event with the feeling that we’re not alone.

Vita Evangelista
Visual artist, videographer and performer
Living and working in Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Born in Campos dos Goytacazes, Brazil

 

 

 

 

 

 


 
 

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