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Four Activists Walk Into a Studio
When online sisterhood moves offline
What happens when anti-racism activists hang out together? What do we talk about? While my sister and fellow activist Lisa and I talk about these issues all the time (you should see our WhatsApp message thread), it was interesting to find out what happens when there are more of us in the same space.
On a recent trip to New Jersey I got the chance to meet two people I'd admired for a while. The first was Ellen Wagner of Cross Cultural Bridges, who invited my sister and me into her home. (Thanks to Ellen and her whole family for a warm welcome. I feel like I have new chosen family, and that is a blessing indeed.)
After we'd got over how weird it was to see a whole person - all our interactions have been on Zoom - the talk turned to places we'd lived, experiences of racism, finding our purpose in the anti-racism fight, and more. We both felt a responsibility to use the gifts we have to make things better for future generations.
One interesting discussion was about privilege. It's a multi-layered thing. While we don't enjoy and can never fully understand white skin privilege, we recognized that we do enjoy some privilege in not having to struggle in certain ways. But there are also many other privileges we DON’T enjoy because of the color of our skin.
We also talked about balancing the need to speak the truth of our lived experiences with the need to bring people into the anti-racism fight without immediately closing the conversation down.
As if that weren't enough, the following afternoon brought a meeting with Ashanti Martin, a truth teller over whom I've been fangirling for a while. The energy in the room was electric as all of us came together. We talked about intersections and differences - how we experienced our lives and our activism, and what the similarities and differences were between the Caribbean, UK and US experiences, something I’ll share in my next book. We discussed the fact that white supremacy remained a factor in Black majority countries - a disappointment to my US-based colleagues who had hoped for better.
At the end of the recording, we returned to Ellen’s house to share a meal and talk some more. There was elation in the air as we relaxed into the company of others who just got it - the positive and the negative of putting ourselves out there, day in, day out.
As I said on LinkedIn shortly after our meeting: “For this introvert, meeting new people can be stressful, but this wasn't meeting new people. This was meeting people I'd been sharing online space with for two years. This was discovering they were the people I thought I knew. This was realizing that the love, respect and sisterhood were real. This was sharing stories about our activist lives and our personal lives. This was breaking bread together. This was more than I ever hoped it would be.”
The one thing that’s for sure is that we’ll do this again. Even as an introvert, this was life, and one of the best days of my life!!!
Have you had the chance to meet fellow activists IRL? How was it for you?
Thanks for reading,
© Sharon Hurley Hall, 2022. All Rights Reserved.