MC Martina’s Slam Poem: ‘The Virus that Stopped the Nation’ [VIDEO] #UprootingRacism

Clique aqui para Português

This video report is part of our series about Covid-19 and its impacts on the favelas and is also the latest contribution to our year-long reporting project, “Rooting Anti-Racism in the Favelas: Deconstructing Social Narratives About Racism in Rio de Janeiro.” Follow our Rooting Anti-Racism in the Favelas series here.

In her antiracist video-poem, MC Martina narrates the impacts of the pandemic on favelas, and how the pandemic exposes racism and the lack of access to basic rights that have plagued Rio de Janeiro’s favelas and peripheries for decades. Speaking from the experiences of a black woman witnessing this social tragedy, Sabrina Martina tells us, poetically “what it’s like to be a black body in this decade.” The poet, slammer and MC was born and raised in Complexo do Alemão, in Rio de Janeiro’s North Zone.

Transcription of ‘The Virus that Stopped the Nation‘:

The Virus that Stopped the Nation

The virus that stopped the nation: from China to Germany, Europe to Complexo do Alemão.

I took on this challenge, popped in to tell you what’s up.

They told me to stay home, but how if we’re always short on electricity and water?

That I’m supposed to wash my hands constantly, but have you seen the quality of the water?

We are the product of inequality, every day misery steals our humanity, hand sanitizer is indispensable but having food at home is what’s important! Pay attention to this information: (favela media outlets) Straight Talk Collective, Voz, CDD Front and A Maré Vê have reigned in managing this crisis, but what breaks my heart is seeing domestic violence breaking records in the midst of all this.

I hear screams, I see femicides growing at alarming rates, more people looking for food in the trash, and even so, so many people act like nothing is happening.

I guess people will only understand when numbers turn into friends or loved ones. Watch out for the dangers!

We’re all in the same ocean, except they’re in a yacht and our boat’s full of gunshot holes.

Stay home, kid, light a candle, tomorrow have a beer, turn up the music and maybe that’ll drown out the shooting outside.

Take a deep breath. Think that there’s a higher purpose behind all this. And one thing is fact: no show on Netflix or soap opera could describe what it’s like to be a black body in this decade.


Imagine if racism was fought the same way we fight coronavirus?

Understand: what I write is consequence of the cause that would only pique your interest if it was on the sidewalk.

In other words: entertainment with a cause;

and (left-wing) activists tell me: “Martina, don’t believe the uniforms.

Take the streets, or better, stay home and turn your grief, hate and heartbreak into something positive, and then come give us a free lecture.

Ah, hold on, here’s some food assistance.”

The left profits from our hate, grief and good discourse.

The right tramples all over us,

no space for mourning, deaths become merchandise.

In times when hospitals are just façades, don’t be surprised if tomorrow most deaths are from the black or favela population.

And I, between the virus and the bullet, can’t let anything go missing at home. Tell me, if I put this mask on, will hunger not find me?

In months of isolation, we had no water, no energy, days went by without Internet. Then, my cell stopped working.

If I went around this favela, I’d never stop rhyming.

If, since (abolition in) 1888, only white people suffered the side effects of racism, there wouldn’t be so many mothers crying.

And me, between the virus and the bullet, I’m gonna say this one more time: I can’t let anything go missing at home. — MC Martina

Rapper, poet and producer MC Martina, as Sabrina Martina is also known, comes straight from Complexo do Alemão. MC Martina has been leaving her mark in the country’s cultural scene. She is the creator of Slam Laje, Complexo do Alemão’s first spoken word poetry battle, and one of the groundbreaking slams to take place inside a favela in the state of Rio de Janeiro.

Director of the video: A resident of Complexo do Alemão, Luiz Neto studies Art History at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) and participates in various initiatives that work inside the favela, such as Descolando IdeiasCentro Cultural Oca dos Curumins and EDUCAP. Luiz helps develop projects and activities that engage residents. 

This article is the latest contribution to our year-long reporting project, “Rooting Anti-Racism in the Favelas: Deconstructing Social Narratives About Racism in Rio de Janeiro.” Follow our Rooting Anti-Racism in the Favelas series here.

Support RioOnWatch’s tireless, critical and cutting-edge hyperlocal journalism, online community organizing meetings, and direct support to favelas by clicking here.