As Guatemalan rapper Rebeca Lane explains how she uses hip-hop to work for social justice, Mandarina the housecat meows louder and louder.
Lane lists the objectives for her current tour through Central America. “The first one was shooting a documentary of women and hip-hop through Central America and some cities in Mexico,” she says.
“Doing workshops and getting to know the girls doing hip-hop in Central America.”
“Women doing graffiti, doing DJ, B-girls, rappers, MCs, beatboxers.”
Meow, meow, meow.
“They are taking hip-hop into communities to prevent violence.”
Mandarina seems just as excited about the Somos Guerreras tour as Lane herself. To keep costs down, the traveling rappers stay with people they know — and sometimes, their cats.
The tour is Lane’s grassroots effort to build a “network of women doing hip-hop in Central America.”
Her music has three main themes: feminism, social justice and history. She calls herself a daughter of Guatemala’s civil war in the 1980s.
“Some of my family members were killed during the war,” Lane says, “so social justice and historical memory are very important for me because the people in my family who were killed were struggling for social justice and they got disappeared or killed by the military governments during the war.”
The name of her tour means “we are warriors,” and the touring artists are all female.
“To me, a warrior is a woman,” Lane says, “experiencing this society and not conforming with what she’s told that a woman should be.“
She’s passionate about environmental issues and people’s relationship with planet Earth, as well. Among her inspirations are the late Honduran activist Berta Cáceres, and a movement of women protesting mining in Guatemala.
She stays connected to indigenous activism and feminist issues across ethnic groups.
“They make me think of things that I had never thought before, like what it means to be a woman of color,” she says. “What it means to be a mestiza, what it means to be a Latina, for example, in a place where white dominance in the culture is like [in]the United States.”
Through her music, Lane wants to fight problems like femicide and domestic violence, and unify women in general.
“I think it’s very important for women to let go of the idea that other women are our enemies, which is what we learn in this heteropatriarchy,” Lane says. “I think it’s very brave for women to stop thinking that and trying to understand that we are all sisters and that we’ve all been through the same things and we have to help each other.”
Mandarina meows loudly in the background.