*This recipe is but a personal guideline of my main and biggest takeaways and reflection on my personal Fellowship experience. Please refer to your own cookbooks for individual fellow recipes.*
Before You Begin You Will Need:
One City. Enriched and sown with cultural, historical, and social significance, a place where history and movements have been and continue to exist in different iterations. This city for now is located in either the U.S. or some European countries; however, there is hope for expansion. The city we will be using for this recipe, is Atlanta Georgia with the ironic, if not laughable expression “The City Too Busy Too Hate”.
- 1 Human Being: Willing to delve into an intense and immersive four-week summer excursion that will leave their minds open, bodies physically tired, and spirits lifted to the work of human rights.
- 1 Cup of Determination: To do the work. Determination to not only be physically present, but also actively listen, engage with others, and stick through the program. You can’t disengage, you must not disengage. It is in moments where Dr. Carol Anderson is telling you exactly how Voter Suppression through Voter ID laws is just racism in a new disguise. We can’t lose sight of where we go against the very rights of people.
- Infinite Amounts of Alertness: As Dr. Anderson stated in her talk, “The Price for Justice is Constant Vigilance”. Human Rights violations happened and continue to happen to this day. The past vigilance of Dr. Roselyn Pope’s alertness to frame Civil Rights as Human Rights in her letter from Spelman College that sparked Student Activism and appealed to the humanity of people. To the present day LGBTQIA People of Color community and organizers that fight for their voices to be heard, but also for reform in Atlanta with de-penalizing minor drug offenses in the city to directly help the city’s black men evade unjust sentences. Vigilance in how we frame our actions, alertness in who we fight for and recognition that we all must fight for each other, for if one of us does not possess justice, then we all don’t.
- 1⁄2 Cup of Compassion (more if desired): It is essential that we think critically and intellectually about these issues and violations of human rights that we hear and engage with during this Fellowship. However, as Professor Tanya Washington said, it is mandatory that we also have joy. You can’t be “woke” all the time, you’ll burn out. We can’t be angry at the people who aren’t on the front lines of protest but help the movement in other ways. The SNCC members who made the signs during the Civil Rights Movement, or the member of the Kennesaw State University Cheerleading team who didn’t get the blessing of her family to kneel during the anthem but outstretched her arm to support a teammate who was. We must find love for others, we must listen to the other side, we must find joy in tough, hard, and at times sad and bleak work. Compassion for others, and for ourselves is a necessary ingredient to this Fellowship.
- 1 Stick of Resolve (softened): An essential ingredient for all future and current endeavors into human rights work, wherever you may be. Even when injustices occur, when crimes are committed, asylum seekers and immigrants are being detained and separated from their families, when The Prison Industrial Complex is Slavery with a new name, we must hold steady. We cannot allow ourselves for these atrocities to knock us out of the fight. We must think about Justice from different angles. It is not only what we can do now to prevent violations from occurring, but we must also turn to Restorative Justice. As Dr. David Hooker shared in his lecture we aren’t searching for punitive measures, we are asking what harm was done and what does it take to make right. Restorative Justice takes a firm understanding of the path it takes to get the solutions we need. But, who is the victim, who is the perpetrator, what are the causes and what are the solutions for crimes that happen 10, 20 or 100 years ago; we need to be able to work through this knowing it is going to difficult, and hard, and strenuous and if nothing else, complicated. This is why it is extremely important we allow our resolve to be slightly softened.
- A Smidge of Curiosity (to start, please add more during cooking process): Every topic that has come across this Fellowship agenda, from Human Trafficking to Homelessness to Voting Rights to Justice and more, we need to see the intersectionality in it all. Going into this Fellowship my heart and soul were and have been dedicated to the work of refugees and homeless and low-income populations in the U.S. And while this is not to say I was disinterested, the process of engaging with all these topics in such a short amount of time has opened my eyes to the reality that they all connect. Human Rights is universal, and during the amazing “Under My Hood Truth Experience” with Coleman G. Howard he emphasized that while stories may sound different at first the base is that we all come into a shared room healing from something. We are all hurting, and our humanity is what connects us together. In this same way each of the topics, the panels the speakers the movements past and present are connected. Come in with a sense of direction on one topic, but an openness to learn and hear from others. From Europeans and U.S. Fellows, from Native People’s Rights to the Rights of Black People, to the Rights of the Poor, curiosity will be the bind that connects them all.
- The Cohort of Fellows (Numbers may vary year to year- expect at least 20): No matter the speakers, topic, interest level, or the engagement, this Fellowship does not work without hearing, listening, and learning from other members of the shared learning space. These people are essential to not only how the information is received, but what we can take away from the speakers through their insights, questions, personal experiences or reflections. YOU are also essential to this process. Others will not learn the same way, ask the same questions, or experience the same topics without your presence-whether active or more passive. The space needs a cohort, it is not for individuals, it is not to make leaders or competition, it is to create a base. It is to create a community. It is to create a starting point to learn that collectively spaces are made stronger, not weaker with other’s involvement. Learn from the cohort, give back to the cohort, and be present in the ways you can.
- To Taste: Sassiness (as needed, but need not apply liberally), Cooking Skills, and Good Hugs.
Working diligently but not frantic, combine all ingredients above with recommended sizes (although please adjust to your tastes and comfort). If mixing becomes difficult, add in pinch of sass or sarcasm to thin out tension, however be wary in overdoing. Once combined and settled down, let sit and rest until mind and body are prepared to tackle the world post Fellowship completion. Don’t worry if overwhelmed, take the time and rest you need to center yourself with the knowledge and information, people and places you’ve experienced and seen. Give yourself space for mental health, and give yourself joy.
When ready, put yourself in places of tension and discomfort at addressing America’s atrocities in visiting Montgomery Alabama’s museum and lynching memorial, to entering the Leesburg Georgia Stockade, and hearing from survivors of unfair prison sentences, displacement and homelessness from childhood neighborhoods, police brutality, and maltreatment before and after the Civil Rights Movement. Our Criminal Legal (no, not Justice) System is based off of histories of exclusion, intolerance, and violence. We have to confront and see that, and we have to understand that this is indeed America, our actions then and now are neither unheard of nor unique. After fully embracing all the tough and unpleasant truths, after finding community across oceans with Fellows and now new friends, after hearing inspiration and seeing the little blasts of hope and light we can begin to move forward. At this time, you may begin your steps for the Action Project, continued healing, and constant outreach to learn not just from others within the Fellowship, but in our own communities and through ourselves.