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Portland Rapper Maarquii Is Glad People Are Talking About Abolishing the Police. But They Want to Make Sure Reparations Are Part of the Conversation, Too.

“History is rife with instances where things that were owed to us were taken.”

WW presents "Distant Voices," a daily video interview for the era of social distancing. Our reporters are asking Portlanders what they're doing during quarantine.

In late February, a new house debuted at the Black Futures Ball.

Led by Portland rapper Maarquii—who can work a mic and a dance floor with equal finesse—it seemed inevitable that House of Juju would become legendary in Portland's ballroom scene.

Then, only a few weeks later, COVID-19 shut down the city.

But walking balls and winning trophies are only a small part of Maarquii's responsibilities as Mother of the House of Juju.

When the uprising against racism and police brutality began in Portland, Maarquii began thinking about how they and their house could best help the movement.

"For me personally, I feel that it's not really my duty at this point to be on the front lines and putting myself at risk for a problem that has been allowed to go on for so long," they say. "My work is, I feel, very much maintaining a spiritual connection and helping my community have a strong connection to spirit so that we can be energized and recharged."

That includes helping to reallocate financial resources to Black communities through their social media accounts, and researching national reparations efforts.

"They go hand in hand," Maarquii says about reparations and calls by activists to abolish the police. "History is rife with instances where things that were owed to us were taken."

"I just think so much has to die in order for us to have a semblance of a community that lives in harmony with each other and the earth," they add. "But I think we're hopefully seeing the beginnings of a new day."

See more Distant Voices interviews here.