Faith Santilla – “When Womxn and Grrrls Are Killed”

Faith Santilla is a spoken word poet from Los Angeles, California, who’s been in the scene for over 20 years. In 1998, she won her first ever poetry slam during Dominique DiPrima‘s radio show on 92.3. Her work’s been cited in numerous high school and college classrooms across the country, published in scholarly articles, anthologies, and books, and she was featured in the groundbreaking 1997 documentary, “Beats, Rhymes and Resistance: Filipinos and hip-hop in Los Angeles.”

Faith will be releasing her debut project, titled A Slow Build to Power, through the Beatrock Music label. On October 16th, she dropped first poem, called “When Womxn and Grrrls Are Killed,” which was inspired by the 2015 murders of two young Latina women (Briana Gallegos and Gabby Calzada) and the constant victim blaming that occurred in the media reports about their killings.

Produced by Fatgums and Faith, she delivers a powerful spoken piece over striking, palm-slapping snares, where she speaks on the tenacious problem of victim blaming, where ignorance and cruelty tell victims how their tragedies could’ve been prevented, which minimizes the criminal act and stops people from wanting to come forward. Character assassinations continue to take place, even in death, to justify a killing where no justice exists at all.

Lyrics from the song: “When womxn and girls are killed, it’s because of her location, her lack of education, the occupation that she chose // Whenever a man is murdered, we never blame it on his clothes, but we do when it’s a woman // Never do we blame a system – a system built on the wisdom of old and sexist cis-men // When womxn and girls are killed, it is our collective failure, a reflection of us from the ugliest of angles // When our womxn and girls become our angels, before being given a chance at becoming womxn at all…

In 2015, Briana Gallegos and Gabby Calzada were found murdered at Ernest Debs Park. I watched the local news postulate for weeks what the girls were involved in that caused their killings: were they involved in gangs? What were they doing at the park? We’ve seen countless Black trans women, Indigenous women, immigrant and poor women and women of color murdered twice – in real life and in the way their character is denigrated in the news. The number of missing and murdered Indigenous women in the Americas should be a continental atrocity known by the world. The daily count of Filipina overseas migrant workers returning home to the PI in body bags should be an international disgrace. This poem is a tiny contribution to keep their memories alive and an affirmation to those doing the work that it is worth it.

Faith Santilla, on Instagram

Calling out the names of womxn and girls who’ve fallen victim to abuse and murder, Faith Santilla enlisted some of her friends (Cheryl Dunye, Sista Eyerie, KH, and Christine Capacillo) to lend their voices throughout the piece. Stream the song below.


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