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Democracy in Bloom

Sep 25, 2019

The bauhinia has long been a symbol of the city - a made-in-HK hybrid that's neither of the West nor the East. As a golden trophy for the CCP, it was a hated symbol, but HKers have in recent mths reclaimed it for their own. 1/9

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Right is HK's flag since 1997, and left, the 'golden bauhinia'. Both are, er, to put it nicely, peak CCP aesthetic... The red is a loud, garish reminder who the city belongs to (as are the stars on the petals); anything '洋' about the bauhinia has been stripped away. 2/9

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In comes the Black Bauhinia. Protest iconography comes and goes, but this has been with us since June. Variations exist - wilted, wilted and drenched in blood - but all are definitely black, taking on idea that we're a city in mourning, over the death of democracy. 3/9

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And through art, the bauhinia became truly ours again. The image here is based on the Legco break-in when HKers painted the red symbol black; here that symbol becomes a living flower, held up by umbrellas. Bauhinia also became more connected to the idea of home, our home. 4/9

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The bauhinia also became more than just the symbol of home as time wore on. When the police shot a first aider straight in the eye in Aug, the flower (and HK) became a symbol of that loss. It's delicate, it's precious, and it's taken on so much hurt. And still, it blooms. 5/9

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The bauhinia has gone from a symbol of our city's vassal-status, to a symbol of HKers' defiance. In many of the protest artwork of the frontline 'braves', the black bauhinia can be seen being waved high and proud. Note how it replaces the tricolore in the Delacroix homage... 6/9

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What comes next? Becoz of colonial connotations of the bauhinia flag (interpret that how you will), there's been debate about whether there shld be a new flag. Some are jokes - like here, we see 5 hardhats replace the flower's petals (and also represent the 5 demands!). 7/9

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Some more serious. The left is a morning glory (harking back to our anthem), made of 5人 (people) that also looks like umbrellas. The right is like the bauhinia, but in reverse, the fires represent democracy. The blue in both can either be water, or the skies after the storm. 8/9

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There's also @badiucao's Lennon Wall flag, representing freedom of speech, unity and intersectionality.

The return of colour makes me hopeful. We are HKers, and we fly the Black Bauhinia. But even as we fight on, we are looking towards the future, and what we see is light. 9/9

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Update, Nov 14 2019

UPDATE: This bauhinia hurts the most - petals made of teargas and canisters, what was once beautiful turned into something ghastly. A cloud of pain that will likely be blown away by the wind. We are indeed now a city of tears and teargas.

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Update, Jan 29 2020

UPDATE: I think this is the first time I’ve seen the bauhinia completely fall apart like this. Probably apt analogy for the regime.

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Update, Feb 1 2020

UPDATE: and now with #coronarvirus, we also have the surgical mask Bauhinia. Note there aren’t enough masks to cover all the petals. We have a govt that’s sick, a people that’s muzzled.

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