There are all these moments you think you won’t survive. And then you survive. –David Levithan
Esteban chose to leave home and join FARC at age 13 because, in his eyes, if his life continued at the rate it was going…then that young Black boy would never actually grow to be a young Black man. Against his mother’s will, he made the decision. Once it was fully apparent to her that he would be leaving home, Esteban’s mother knew she also had to make a decision. In ways unmentioned, Esteban recalled how she “made him tougher” before his departure—because she knew he would need that toughness to survive.
Not knowing what to expect and forced to become a man much sooner than your average teenage boy, Esteban spoke of how he felt at home immediately upon joining FARC.
The racism I experienced in Cali was non-existent in FARC. It didn’t matter if you were Black, White, Male, Female, Indigenous, etc…”Todos somos hermanos (We were all brothers).”
He found his place as a medic within the organization and by working to save lives, he grew to have a greater desire for peace. Not just peace within Colombia, but across the globe.
Being away from home was hard but, in the years that followed his separation from family, Esteban felt closer to his mother than he ever did while in her presence. He understood what she had gone through during her time with FARC and felt proud to follow in her footsteps. As his search for deeper life meaning continued within self, Esteban often thought back to his grandmother. She had told his father on numerous occasions that he would be a musician. She had been a musician in her younger years and, thus, planted the early seeds for his love of music.
13 years after leaving home to join FARC, the young Black boy that left returned as a young Black man. Esteban, now known by his musician name, Black Esteban, wants the world to know that not only is he Colombian…but also a proud, young Black man in Colombia. As a rapper, his message is simple: Peace in Colombia. Peace across the entire globe. And to end discrimination against the people of the world that come from African descent and all others subjected to hate or racism.
In the comments below, share a story of any remarkable individual/s you have come across during your travels.