Palabras de Peru: Tupac

Not exactly a word, but the name, Tupac, has been very popular with movement and change.


Before venturing to Peru, I mentioned earlier that I audited a History class on the Andes. I briefly learned about Tupac Amaru II and leading one of the largest resistances against the Spanish Empire in Cuzco. Throughout Lima, I have seen many versions of his image and what he symbolizes to different communities. I also learned that Tupac Amaru means “Shining Serpent.”


The MRTA or Movimiento Revolucionario de Tupac Amaru, used the symbology of Tupac in resistance during the Peruvian internal conflict. Originating from a Marxist influence, this movement was very strong in Peru and was an alternative from the government and The Shining Path movement. They had a strong message of a socialist ideology and ridding the country of imperial political power. Members of the guerrilla were responsible for the murder of 8 trans youth in a town, which was a groundbreaking acknowledgement of violence for the LGBTQA communities of Peru.


In modern day Peru, I have seen the symbols of Tupac now. Visiting Mauricio Delgado’s home, I found this piece on his wall in his apartment and work space. Later, I met Javi Vargas, the artist responsible for the piece “La Falsificacion de las Tupac.” The artist explained that he is re-appropriating the image that has been traditionally used to represent Tupac by adding the androgynous appearance that was more realistic to his sexual and fluid gender identity. This image challenges the idea that many people have of Tupac being a masculine and stoic figure of resistance.


Throughout my generation, a large influence at home has always been Tupac Amaru Shakur, or 2Pac. After learning about Tupac Amaru II, I decided to investigate why 2Pac shares the same name, although he is very far in time and distance from the legacy of his namesake. He was rename Tupac Amaru during his early years in life. His mother was a member of the Black Panther Party and changed the name to a name of resistance and Indigenous positionality.


Connecting this back to Peru in Hip Hop Movements of Consciousness, I had the pleasure of meeting several organizations that work on community building through Hip Hop in the Barrios. One of those organization is Comite Pokoflo. One of their logos holds a symbol of Tupac Amaru II; a statement of Indigenous identity and resistance. Several members of the committee hold strong values in Quechua language and reinforcement of Indigenous culture through Hip Hop.


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