Find out about our renewed priorities, why we're dialling down our social media presence and sign up for our new reading circle!
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Nishma here today - I’m the director and co-founder at The Rights Collective. It’s been a weird time, right? I feel like we’re all trying to run back into life post-Covid (not that there is a “post-Covid”) but life is pretty heavy right now with U.K. politics, the very tangible impacts of climate change globally, capitalism continuing to fail us, people in power trying to kill us and fewer spaces to just be.
I know many of you are just trying to survive and I see you. My hope is that you’re also able to find time to be in nature, with your loved ones, dancing, napping, eating or whatever it is that nourishes you. I know we’ve been slowing down a lot here at The Rights Collective and we’re better for it. More on that from me below so I’ll leave it at that!
Wishing you ease.
Moving with intention as a collective
Bear with us - this is a long and one-off section in our newsletter but you’ll not want to skip it! Trust us.
As you may know, many of us on The Rights Collective team have been pretty burnt out over the last few months. We were full steam ahead during the two years of lockdowns, trying our best to cultivate community spaces online for learning, care and resistance. While we did some beautiful things….In fact, since The Rights Collective was founded in 2017, we have done a shocking number of things! We have published 7 issues of our zine, built an online and offline community of South Asians with a desire to work towards collective liberation, held workshops on the challenges to organising for change, anti-Blackness in our communities, intergenerational harms and other topics, run a 6-month writing program, coordinated mutual aid, published a podcast, held care spaces, facilitated reading groups and teach-ins, published primers, circulated an (almost) monthly newsletter, conducted research into collectivism, maintained a resource hub and hosted many online and offline events for our community. (Phew…that was a long sentence!) BUT, as I was saying, while we have participated in and anchored many beautiful things, at the end of the day we were doing too much. We burnt out, we started resenting the work and we found it difficult to communicate with each other about the challenges we were facing in our work but also personally in this world that often feels unbearable.
As we transitioned into Spring 2022, we decided we needed to pause and look at ourselves, our relationships and our intentions at The Rights Collective a bit more closely. While it’s been an emotional and deeply personal journey - and one we are very much still in the middle of - we are now in a place to refocus our energies on doing less work. Work that, nonetheless, excites us and we hope it will excite you too. Based on our collective and individual capacities, we took a vote as a team. We also invited you all to vote too - thank you to those of you who participated!
So how are we hoping to move with intention as we move forward? Well, from 14 possible actions / interventions / projects we could be doing (all of which were meaningful and much needed), we chose 2 that we want to focus on for the coming year or so:
Zine on Food - an exploration of food, what it means to us on an individual level, how it nourishes us, and bonds us to our closest friends and chosen family. It will also be looking into how food allows us to create and participate in our wider community, and a consideration of the socio-economic and political contexts as well as the historical events that have led to the formation of our food cultures and culinary habits. Check out some of our writing prompts on food below to get started and watch this space for invitations to participate.
Reading Circle exploring Transformative Justice - our reading circle provides a space for us to explore and unpack various topics from an intersectional and critical lens. Our second reading circle series will be launched later this year to unpack the topic of transformative justice with a view to understand abolitionist frameworks of justice and accountability in the context of the South Asian community. Sign up below to receive the details.
In addition to this,
we will still be continuing our work on and hopefully hosting an in person launch for the beautiful stories from Ansuni. We would actually love some support on this project so if you’re a writer, storyteller, researcher with some spare time you might be able to contribute, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll also be inviting applications from illustrators soon so watch this space!
we’re super excited to be bringing you season 2 of our podcast in which we will be speaking to some of our elders and their journeys to activism, radical politics and starting the first ever South Asian bookstore in London.
And finally, we decided it is central to everything we do that we practice what we theorise. We must create the ways of being and doing that we want to see in the world - whether that’s exploring accessibility and disability justice within our collective, framing accountability processes, making space for care and conflict, having time for understanding and practising solidarity beyond the performative or something else. We choose to slow down and intentionally build together in this way. We will keep you updated on this and if you want to be involved more deeply, just let us know!
One of the consequences of this is that we no longer want to rely on social media as our only way to communicate with you all. We’ll be using this newsletter space and our community chat group much more intentionally going forward. We don’t want to be driven by popularity, likes, numbers and algorithms. We don’t want to use the tools of social media giants to be our measure of impact or success (whatever that means). We don’t want to feel the false urgency of needing to comment and post on everything that is happening in the world nor do we want our outputs to determine who we are.
We want to show up in ways that honour our bodies, our spirits, our creativity outside of production.
We don’t know what this will always look like but we know it means stepping away from centring social media. So while you’ll still see us post about what we’re up to and how to join (if the algorithm shows it to you that is), you will no longer be seeing daily or weekly stories, reels or posts from us. Rest assured, we are still here for and with you.
We’re excited to feel joy in our work again, to spend time with the parts of us that got hidden over the past few years, to rebuild relationships beyond the transactional, to be with our community, to rest when rest is needed and to move from depletion towards nourishment. We hope you’ll join us on this journey.
📚Our reading circle is back
The Rights Collective reading circle is envisioned as a space that allows for collective peer learning and discussion on several contemporary issues of intersectional oppression and justice through a critical lens. Carrying forward our work in collective community learning with the anti-caste reading circle from last year, we are coming back with the second series, where we’ll be exploring transformative justice with a view to understand abolitionist frameworks of justice and accountability in the context of the South Asian community.
This reading circle will focus on engaging with writings and materials on topics such as abolition, transformative justice, community accountability, restorative justice and alternatives to carceral and prison systems for addressing harm and violence. We are excited to bring in facilitators with different experience in this space to help us on this journey and to complement the readings with optional practice sessions.
Our intention is to anchor the reading circle in a hybrid format with in-person gatherings as well as allowing participants from around the globe to join us virtually. Spaces will be limited so sign up now to express your interest in participating. To find out more about the topic, watch our teach-in on Abolition & Justice in South Asian Communities here.
Writing Prompt: Sensory Memories of Mealtimes 🍜
What could be more healing than a heartfelt meal?
At The Rights Collective, we have been thinking a lot about our relationships to food; the dishes that made us, brought us together, marked milestones at each stage of our lives. In this newsletter, we'd like to invite you to do the same, writing on the sensory experiences of eating and sharing food. If you'd like to, here is a series of prompts you could follow:
Think about a meal that you remember through your senses. What was it? Who was there with you, who made it? What does the meal signify for you?
Study which senses were engaged by this meal. Allow them space to grow; describe the sensorial experience of eating this meal. Which words come to mind? Which emotions are held in this meal?
Identify which senses escaped you, as you ate. Hold space for them, write about their absence. What does this meal not carry for you?
If you feel moved to write, create, anything at all in response to these prompts, please do share your work with us by emailing email@example.com. We'd love to hear your stories about your food, and share in them together.
With thanks to Bernadette Mayer, whose journalling prompts inspired us. For future updates on our food-focused work, watch this space!
Abolitionist Summer Social!
We attended the Abolitionist Summer Social last weekend and had a wonderful time meeting some of you. It was so lovely to connect with beautiful people and lean into the joyful sharing of food, music and games together ❤️
Meet our team! 👩🏽💻
Meet Inaya, Community Builder & Organiser
inaya is a london-based creative with interests in music, radio, writing and filmmaking. she is particularly interested in disrupting and generating space through sonic and visual art. she also has a monthly radio show on foundation fm, you can find her mixes and shows here:
1. What book are you currently reading? i’m currently about to finish ocean vuong’s “on earth we’re briefly gorgeous” which has been a beautiful and melancholic read. next on my list is “race to the bottom” by ilyas nagdee and azfar shafi, which i’m really excited to get stuck into.
2. What is one gift you want to share with the world? this sound project i put together a few months ago: Sonic Imaginations. go listen and contribute if you’re into it!
3. What is your favourite thing about TRC? i have two favourite things - our acceptance that we are imperfect and always learning, and our commitment to being better, for ourselves and each other.
Meet Jasber, Peer Advisor
Jasber is our peer-advisor based in London and is an associate professor in participatory practice at the Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience (CAWR) at Coventry University. He focuses on the ways in which right to food, food sovereignty and environmental actions engages with race/caste/gender and more broadly, the politics of difference.
1. What is one piece of advice you would give to your younger self? Stay with the emotions that challenge you, face them, and trust that you will find a way.
2. What is your favourite song of all time? So many good ones that I can’t choose a favourite! But when I was young, I could not get enough of Soho Road by Apana Sangeet and Original Nutta by Shy FX and UK Apache.
📓Anti-Caste Reading Circle: Resources
This is a regular column in our newsletter where we share anti-caste resources with you every month - from readings to videos to events. Feel free to send us anything to feature and check out some of this month’s readings below.
This month’s reading and videos focus on the theme of Caste and Food:
Caste, food and ideological imposition by Dr Sylvia Karpagam.
A Woman’s Place by Anasuya Sreedhar
Eat with Great Delight by Rajyashri Goody.
📣 Events we’re attending…
Connected Sociologies are back with their free two day summer programme in August examining race, class and colonialism. Book your free slot here.
Toynbee Hall are hosting a workshop around injustices of social housing in London and collective resistance. Book your free ticket and join them on the 24th July.
Join Dalston Solidarity Cafe on the 16th July for workshop ‘Standing up for Palestine’ with direct action group; Palestine Action! This will be followed with food and film screenings.
Our favourite coffee shop in East London Root25 is celebrating its one year birthday with a party on Friday 15th July at 7pm. No booking needed, bring a friend along and enjoy live music and food.
Hawiyya Dance Company and El-Funoun Palestinian Dance Troupe present Curfew which speaks to a world that is numbed and no longer able to respond to the constant bombardment of news, surveillance and manipulation.
📚Things we’re engaging with right now…
Bangladesh continues to be devastated with flooding as the death toll rises. This is believed to be the worst flooding in the history of Bangladesh.
“What does it mean to be a feminist teacher and engage in feminist pedagogical practices?” - Akanksha Mehta writes on her experiences on feminist pedagogy for Kohl Journal.
“The success of our organizing depends on relationships that allow for trust, vulnerability and rest.”- Deana Ayers writes beautifully on cultivating patience and leaning into this in our movement building.
Balancing urgency and patience when the world is burning around us - looking at the history of our movements for patience also means looking to the future to embrace urgency.
Farzana Khan from Healing Justice London explores what it would take to envision abolition in our lifetime and to truly practise freedom.
Have you read our resource hub yet? We compile and regularly update articles, podcasts, and videos to expand and aid existing knowledge on issues of caste, class, race, anti-racism, and more. Click the link below to explore.
Help us continue our work
Most of our spaces, workshops and events are free but if you feel called to contribute to the community and invest in sustaining our work, please donate here.