Guaichía Time in Plantation Time
Stolen time and stolen life1 is a practice of expropriation with which we, as Black and Indigenous people, have to deal. Who gives us back the time stolen by white supremacy and cis-hetero-chrono-normativity? Who gives us back the time of not having been with our grandmothers? Who gives us back the time handed to white supremacy? Who gives us back the sleep, the rest, or the lullabies we didn’t hear from our Black/Indigenous mothers who were at the service of the whites?
They are the owners of almost everything, except our fugitivity and our telepathy. There is an ontological relation between whiteness and ownership. Ownership of our bodies, ownership of our times, of our territories. This relation between whiteness and ownership is constantly reactualized. In our plantation memories, of the Black Caribbean, palenquera zones, and zones of cumbes: “all source of enrichment is suspect of coming from zombie trade2, just like the prosperity of the plantation came from slave supplies of black traffic”3.
Jota Mombaça talks about Cognitive Plantation as a reactivation of the colonial apparatus for the extractivism of black bodies. “[The Plantation] describes the system of appropriation of Black life as a matter deprived of value and, simultaneously, constitutive of what Denise Ferreira da Silva calls ‘ethical equation of value’. In other words, the Plantation describes a particular way of managing Black subjection in favour of the reproduction of a system of enslavement. This system of production makes processes of value extraction coexist with a regime of anti-Black [anti-indigenous] violence.”4
The plantation is never ending. In Covid-19 times, it is in my bed. I am in a new form of plantation, the white supremacy machine is still working to kill us. And we are working to escape and find ways of pleasure. Transitamos los caminos de exú y la (s)exuality [we transit the ways of exú and (s)exuality].
I make money with my body. I do sex-cam. A black trav3sti5 maroon body that offers pleasure to white bodies. The same equation as the plantation, that is why, for me, charging for the use of my body/ libidinal energy so a white body can access the pleasure of touching, kissing, sucking us, is a way to stop the machinery that extracts black, maroon, trav3sti energy for free. Even when I know that whiteness has a “debt with us that is unpayable.”
At some point during the pandemic I had Covid, maybe it was because of the contact while doing s3x w0rk. It is difficult to live in the plantation, paying the rent to the plantation master, looking for food, sending money to your family living in the heterogen plantation of the “Global South.” We were five migrant people living in an apartment located in a migrant-working class neighborhood in Madrid; three of us did not have documentation and we dedicated ourselves to being whores in all senses of the term. During the pandemic we were not allowed to whore ourselves out (putear) because the surveillance policy was intense, and even more toward foreigners' bodies in this plantation called S-pain.
Each corner of the house was suitable for doing sex-cam. Showing a fake titty, an ass with marks, unshaved, shaved, half shaved, a fictional clitoris, a made-up genital, speaking our ratatá English, everything to get the money to keep on living in the plantation. Maybe sometimes it was necessary to show some feet without pedicure, or even “covid cum” in order to fulfil the desirability/fetishization/erotization that our bodies produce to the plantation masters in the global North.
One client asked me if I had Covid, I replied that I did. I actually had a fever and fatigue. I had Covid. This client thought it was exciting that even so I was able to work, and the client opted to pay to see a black maroon travesti with Covid cum. Travesti cum produces this type of colonial and culonial6 craziness inside the universe of white supremacy. And when I talk about travesti cum, I am talking about that ancestral technology of desirability, fugitivity, libidinal pulsion of transformation that every cis body wants to try, but not many want to pay its incalculable value.
Contradictorily, social distancing during the pandemic resulted in a fueling of an intense desirability to be close to our bodies, which stimulated the predatory pulsion of white supremacy towards us. It was the moment: either you activated chapeo, or you would die. As Tokisha said in an interview “OnlyFans saved my life.” 7 In my case, chapeo saved my life. Chapeo, that ancestral technology of using a Caribbean erotic to live, to open ways of glamorous escapability, even more in travesti bodies which, as Johan Mijail would say, “are the shame of the nation.” A desired shame, located in the universe of cis underground desires that are part of a nation limited by the prison of an heterosexual fiction, that at night seeks to drink travesti cum as if it were life elixir. Only Pomba Gira understands me.
Sweet plantation memories
During Covid, accessing the possibility of activating the libido implied negotiating other ways of self-managing orgasm. It implied activating many ways and paths for the persistence of pleasure within Black, maroon and travesti bodies. I always ask myself: how did our ancestors access pleasure inside the plantation with all those mechanisms for controlling Black and Indigenous bodies? Where were those micro-times, ephemeral like the flapping of the Guaichía, to escape the trauma alive and find pleasure inside the plantation?
Masturbation was a time of freedom during the pandemic... homemade porn, texting, frequent nudes exchange, orgasm during sex work were also — along the whole contradiction it implies —a form of escaping. I also found pleasure in self-touch, self-sucking, and feeling desired while doing sex-cam —even when that gaze also hurt. In that pleasure, I found the Guaichía, that Jirajara entity that has the form of a butterfly and only appears ephemerally in an eternal micro-time. That moment is the travesti time to escape and heal from the colonial matrix.
“What if, from this crossroads in which we find ourselves, our best chance of escaping the parameters of the cognitive plantation were to take place at the very moment when the strip of the ‘colonial infinite’ breaks?” Jota Mombaça (2020)
1. Moten, Fred, Stolen Life. Duke University Press. Durham and London, 2018.
2. The word Zombie has different etymologies: It comes from Bantu language, from the Congolese “nsoumbi” (devil) or “mvumbi” (individual in a cataleptic state), or from the Angolan “Zumbi” (ghost). See: J Kerboull, Le Vodou, magic ou religion? p. 273: Ascencio, Michaelle (2007)
3. See Hurbon, L, quoted in: 2007, Ascencio, Michaelle, Diosas del Caribe.
4. Mombaça, Jota, “The Cognitive Plantation”, Afterall, 2020, Source: https://www.afterall.org/article/the-cognitive-plantation [Last visited 29th November 2021]
5. Trav3sti is a way of escaping the persecution of travesti bodies on the web algorithms.
6. “Culonial”: relation between colonialism and “culo” [from Spanish: ass].