Spotlight on Nonviolence - YaliniDream

In this Spotlight, I had the privilege of speaking with YaliniDream, a Tamil artist and activist. Manchester born, Texas bred and Brooklyn brewed, YaliniDream conjures spirit through her unique blend of poetry, theater, song, and dance– reshaping reality and seeking peace through justice in the lands of earth, psyche, soul, and dream. She has over 20 years experience as a cultural worker, consultant and organizer in anti-war, anti-violence and racial, gender, and economic justice movements. In this interview, we discussed the solidarity work YaliniDream has done with war-impacted and persecuted communities in the North and East of Sri Lanka, her position of questioning all armed actors and ethno-nationalisms, the complexity and nuance of revolutionary nonviolence, and what a just peace in Sri Lanka would look like. 

As a Sri Lankan American, it was quite meaningful for me to unpack the legacies of Sri Lanka's brutal and tragic thirty-year long civil war. I am Sinhalese while YaliniDream is Tamil, and though our ethnic heritage would suggest that we're on opposite sides of the conflict, we were able to come together in conversation and transcend both Sinhalese nationalism and Tamil nationalism, imagining a liberatory future for all our peoples beyond ethnonationalism. YaliniDream's commentary on the conflict offered a visceral reminder of the wounds of war, the way trauma impacts entire communities, how the most marginalized among us endure multiple forces of violence and the way armed struggle can so often lead to "liberation gone wrong", as YaliniDream puts it. The most surprising and difficult part of our conversation was when YaliniDream, instead of offering a vigorous defense of revolutionary nonviolence as a moral principle, challenged my preconceptions of her and dived into the complexity and nuance of revolutionary nonviolence and armed self-defense, challenging notions of purism and offering an argument for revolutionary nonviolent tactics rooted in efficacy and strategy rather than black-and-white morality. I'm grateful for YaliniDream for forcing me into this sticky nuance and encouraging me to think about nonviolence in a way that grapples with the contradictions and complications of real world struggles.  



Time Stamps:

0:00 Introducing YaliniDream

1:32 Questioning Armed Actors & Ethno-nationalisms

14:25 The Nuance of Revolutionary Nonviolence

21:56 A Just Peace

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