Water Wars
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How to Cite

Lopez Lyman, J. (2023). Water Wars: Black, Latinx, and Native Hip Hop Organizing in Minnesota. American Studies, 62(3). https://doi.org/10.1353/tjk41p49


In this essay I analyze Minnesota hip hop artists who enact aesthetic strategies to build transnational modes of solidarity. Based on ethnographic research I discuss the 2018 Balance the Nations hip hop tour which performed across the mainland U.S. and Puerto Rico. The tour’s purpose was to bring awareness to water rights, specifically the impact of oil pipelines and water access after climate disasters such as Hurricane Maria. The three headlining artists for the tour were Maria Isa, Muja Messiah, and Nataanii Means O(glala Lakota/Omaha/ Navajo). I expand on Chicana feminist’s concept “movida” that addresses the subtle tactics enacted by women to subvert injustice. I trace what I term “interdependent movidas” — small mutually constituted, intentional gestures and actions which when multiplied can serve as the building blocks for social change. First, I provide an overview of the literature on movidas and interdependence. Second, I discuss the background for Enbridge’s Line 3 oil pipeline and Puerto Rico post Hurricane Maria. Third, drawing from interviews with the hip hop artists, I show how interdependent movidas are a strategy for movement building. Large-scale social movements do not happen overnight. I argue it is the small, quotidian moments of solidarity among Black, Latina/o/x, and Indigenous activists organizing in the Midwest that has set the foundation for a global social justice movement.




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