The African Heritage Foundation (AHF) is a pan-African collective that is focused on the positive empowerment of marginalized African descended people in Barbados.
Using the tools of education and advocacy, the AHF has tasked itself with the mission of assisting with the work of repairing the damage done to African descended people due to the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade.
The AHF is of the opinion that effective activism must contain the components of vigilance, advocacy, and activism within the structure of organization. As such, a post made on Facebook which spoke to the sustainability of advocacy was well received by the AHF. It has further been the opinion of the AHF that activism and advocacy in Barbados is too trendy, without the required substance and commitment needed to be as effective as it should be.
An example of this would be a homeschooling case the AHF got involved with a couple years ago. In that matter a family was accused of not properly applying to the Ministry of Education to homeschool their children. The National Child Care board was also involved in this matter, and sought to have the children removed from their family home to become wards of the state. In the initial stages of the AHF’s advocacy for the family not to be broken up, and the parents allowed to homeschool, the emotionally charged environment caused by the collective’s online awareness campaign created an outpouring of support from many people. However the offers of support were short lived, and after the family won the right to keep and homeschool their children, the AHF was left alone with the continued responsibility of assisting the children. Assisting those children came with the added responsibility of continued assistance for the family who have serious financial challenges.
The AHF in an effort to sustain its homeschooling activism, created a homeschooling service that offers assistance for parents who wish to make application to the Ministry of Education to homeschool their children. It also offers lessons for the children of parents who wish to homeschool and need some assistance, but were unable to afford teaching assistance. AHF members volunteered to assist with teaching in their service, and did so for four days a week. It must be noted that this was done until the COVID-19 lockdown caused the AHF to physically shut its headquarters and move most of its advocacy and activism online.
Members of the AHF pay monthly dues of $20 which help to offset their bills and fund their activism. One would think that the initial outpouring of support for the family in question, and for the activism initiated on behalf of this family would have resulted in a growth in the membership of the AHF, it did not. It also did not result in any substantial financial donations to the AHF in support of that family, or others that the collective would subsequently assist in their endeavours to homeschool. However the AHF gives much thanks for the donations of money and books that were made to assist it in this matter.
Advocacy is often trendy but rarely sustainable.
“A revolution is not a dinner party, or writing an essay, or painting a picture, or doing embroidery; it cannot be so refined, so leisurely and gentle, so temperate, kind, courteous, restrained and magnanimous. A revolution is an insurrection, an act of violence by which one class overthrows another.”
The overthrowing of a class is in itself an overthrowing of societal structures that support the division of people through class. These structures can be educational, legal or even created cultural norms that negatively impact the positive holistic empowerment of the masses.
The article that was posted on Facebook …..
You may have released your own interpersonal intentions into the universe. Now we can re-calibrate and discuss what the next steps are for the collective.
We’ve been having the same exhausting conversations over and over… and I think many can relate to how it’s weighed on the mind. I want to challenge that, by starting a conversation around restorative justice. Framing it around the concept of – Sustainability.
This aims to no longer milk the discussions around injustice, for a small crumb of visibility. We normalize being retraumatized by rapid media coverage everyday, with no pathway toward repairing the parts of oneself that end up broken. This has been a major red flag as we enter a culture of accountability. Up to this point we have done that, and continued to wear ourselves down at work, school etc. with that wound still open and unattended. The quarantine has provided a bit more of a capacity to do the work.
For those who are affected by injustice all the time, societal uproar only feels like slight nudge to look at the wounds you’ve collected over time. For others not affected, it’s just a platform for them to share discomfort in watching someone else in so much pain. A nod should not replace resources and actual care. Accountability does nothing, if the extra steps to repair what’s been broken are not met.
Activism is not trendy, it’s laborious. Rethink your practice if you’re only adopting the most convenient parts of it. We want change routed in longevity, not instant gratification.
African Heritage Foundation.