‘Survivors’ Guilt’ Video Slam: Youth from Outskirts of Rio de Janeiro Reflect on Words and Bodies as Territory [VIDEO]

Clique aqui para Português

A scream emerges from the trenches of a silent war. Straight from the Nova América neighborhood in the city of Nova Iguaçu, in Greater Rio de Janeiro’s Baixada Fluminense region, two young survivors find their sword and shield in art, reflecting on the spoken word and the body as territory by a State that reads their bodies as foreign, ready to be expelled at any moment, as has happened with their peers.

The above poetry slam on film, Survivors’ Guilt, speaks of the sense of responsibility that comes with being a turning point within one’s community, of opening paths and resisting in the midst of constant slaughters and the scrapping of bodies, dreams, and freedom. At the margins of society, art is an outstretched hand, a mother’s lap that caresses and provides a channel for all the hate inside—often unconscious and leading so many down a self-destructive path. True subversion lies in reclaiming self-esteem and a sense of community, since here chaos and doom are sourced in public policy. Carrying the pain of survival, recharging the dream on behalf of those who are gone. This is Survivors’ Guilt.  

Survivors’ Guilt


we’re still seen as danger on the corner
they want us behind bars and not by the poolside
in the simple act of existing, we’re victims of massacres
so we fight dancing, each step a dodge

ahm, I carry the plight of survival in the flesh
ancestral movement, without dread or mercy
the fire in my eyes reflects the inquisition
not forgetting the crossing and all catechism

I am Canudos, Carandiru, Chatuba, Carmary
they polluted our lands to say that evil lives here
since then our people won’t be silent
an old flame burning, a point of strength unceasing

have faith, no loss will be forgotten
footsteps follow marches, arms hold banners
against the erected crisis, full of outraged hunger
if revenge is in my name nothing else matters


coming from the worst side
the truth is enough
fuck what they think of it
sometimes what we have is what others want the most

guess the color of the ill-regarded?
where crime is seen as a living
between being or not being, some kill themselves
while it drips it doesn’t dry

this shit hit differently
what is for one isn’t always for another
realities shape lives, corners, and goals
but between a slow burn and a bloodbath don’t overdo it

chaos amid the sweet symphony
feels like phonic murder
applying pressure to the wound
this is Survivors’ Guilt

so let art consume
no need to ask twice
I offer roses and forgiveness
this is Survivors’ Guilt.

Watch the Video Slam Here.

MC PL and MC Onni reflect on the body and the word as territory.

About the author: MC Onni is from Nova Iguaçu, Baixada Fluminense. Since 2008 he has worked as a cultural producer of Alma Versada and Sarau V (2014). As a rapper he released his first EP in 2017 and has announced a new album release for 2023. 

About the author: MC PL is from Nova Iguaçu, Baixada Fluminense. As the grandson of Neguinho da Beija-Flor he’s breathed music since he was little and can be found these days in the studio working on his debut release. 

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