General · Uncategorized

The Context of ‘City of Lights’

So Viva Zapata!  are splitting up at the end of summer =[ but at the beginning of the year we started writing new music, and have three new songs that we’ll be releasing on an EP this summer called Fuck It, It’ll Be Fine.

The lyrics of one of these new songs, City of Lights, were written by me. A video of this song was posted up on our YouTube recently but I feel like the song needs some context and explanation. So here it is:

Some might remember LaDIYfest being called out about racism and cultural appropriation after our festival in October. Being called out on these things made me personally uncomfortable, and it was in this discomfort that I forced myself to take a look at my feminism and ideology and see the flaws within it. For a while I was ashamed and meek in speaking about anything ever again. People were calling me a racist and I felt personally responsible for the exclusion of people that I admired. As time passed, I read more (see article list at the bottom of this post), had long discussions with other white people about cultural appropriation and I began to start articulating this process and trying to improve the way in which I engage in conversations in my community. Effort can be underrated and sometimes it might feel frustrating that people aren’t doing enough to be inclusive and so conversations are key, communication, if situations and feelings allow, can be hugely positive for those who are willing to learn.

I wrote City of Lights in January after a lot of failed attempts at writing poems about white privilege; it is precarious and scary to write from this angle and shows the testament of how little this conversation is being had in wider society. The song is about my personal experience with being called out and on another level, is about that veil lifting, when you slowly start to notice discrimination in everyday life. How certain discourses shape our society and how once you start to see it, you can’t ignore it. i still have a long way to go in understanding and being a good ally and sister but I hope, in whatever way, this song will spark conversation about race in our DIY communities outside of London, where diversity seems sparse, especially in Bristol.


I was born in a city of lights

underneath the docks

I was brought up on benefits

but I grew up white

Took me years to lift the veil

on sexism and race

and I am still ignorant

I feel like a fake.


Somewhere out there

Malice is awake

Darkness, sirens thrill us

Murderous mistakes

We sigh, swig our wine

and complain about the evil

We think out here

we are untouchable


I am cascaded by

images of war

plague, debt, nationalist

hate against them all

it’s time to step aside

let others take turns

to speak from experience

new truths we must learn


No one told me Power was a game

we all join in but there’s more

than blood at stake.

No one taught me

how to lose 

but i throw drown these cards

don’t wanna play this game with you.


Viva Zapata have recently and rightly been called out on our name, we are splitting up in October but I just wanted to acknowledge this and apologise to anyone that has felt our name is inappropriate.

Useful links:

What Exactly IS Cultural Appropriation and How is it Harmful? –

What is a Womanist?

Intersectional Politics for Punx Issue 1 –

Anarchism, a History of Anti-Racism –

Dear White Feminists

Feminism is for Everybody – Bell Hooks, (can’t find any PDF extracts online but you might be lucky!)

Nerds of Color – Pop Culture with a Different Perspective –


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s