WRock for Darfur was a benefit event combining the anti-genocide movement and Harry Potter fandom to raise funds for and awareness of the refugees of Darfur, hosted by the JUUstice LeagUUe of Poughkeepsie who are a chapter of both STAND and the Harry Potter Alliance.
There was live music there; we had wizard rock (wrock) bands such as Nagini, Luna Lovegood Band, and The Moaning Myrtles (three of the wrock bands dropped out the day before due to a family crisis), and some local bands came to play: George Woods, Race to the Finish, The Rhodes, and Futu Futu. We had two truly phenomenal speakers come. The first was Andrew Slack, the creator of the Harry Potter Alliance, and Danny Kadishson from the Genocide Intervention Network. Both were very inspirational to me and re-motivated me to keep doing my part to help end the genocide. We also had a Darfur table with info, a petition, a call-in lemonade stand, and some Save Darfur merchandise. And then there was food, homemade crafts, an artist drawing portraits, and a bouncy castle—in the shape of a panda!
At the end of the day we raised over $4,000! Half of that is going to the Genocide Intervention Network’s Civilian Protection Program and the other half is going to the Jewish World Watch (JWW) Backpack Project.
I think the most gratifying aspect of putting on this event for me was seeing the impact it had on people and watching our words really hitting them. One of my friends who volunteered there said it was THE best day of her summer and that she just felt so good being there. A lady in her early 30’s came up to Jamie (one of the organizers) saying that she hadn’t known anything about Darfur and happened to come down for the day. She told Jamie that she had just donated $3 after hearing that it would protect a women in a refugee camp for a year and now plans to save up so she can buy a backpack full of schools supplies to send down there (through the JWW, a backpack costs $36). And now my friend wants to dedicate his biking trip across America to Darfur! It was stories like these that gave me chills—we really had made a difference. All four of us couldn’t stop smiling the whole day—we were on such a happy high!
So let me tell you a little about the Harry Potter Alliance and why it rocks. The Harry Potter Alliance is a social justice group that connects Harry Potter fans from around the world to fight the Dark Arts in the real world.
“Huh?” was my first reaction when hearing about HPA. But, if you think about it, there are a surprising number of parallels between Harry Potter and the world we live in. For example:
- Genocide, Poverty, AIDS, and Global Warming are ignored by our media and governments the way Voldemort’s return is ignored by the Ministry and Daily Prophet.
- People are still discriminated against based on sexuality, race, class, religion, gender, ethnicity, and religion just as the Wizarding World continues to discriminate against Centaurs, Giants, House Elves, Half-Bloods, Muggle borns, Squibs, and Muggles
- Our governments continue to respond to terror by torturing prisoners (often without trial) just as Sirius Black was tortured by dementors with no trial
- And my favorite: how the Ministry of Magic’s response to Voldamorts return was to turn a blind eye. Everything’s alright, there’s nothing to worry about. It was up to a student club, Dumbledore’s Army, to fight against Voldamort. So just as our government today has turned a blind eye to the genocide in Darfur, so has STAND risen up to end it.
The JUUstice LeagUUe’s plans for the future so far are to host another WRock for Darfur and to pat down our Darfur Lunch Simulation and take it around to places of worship and libraries. A Darfur Lunch Simulation basically takes participants through a meal in the life of a Darfurian refugee in hopes that they will have a better and deeper understanding of what life is now like in Darfur. We also hope to do some lobbying after hearing how effective it is.
After putting on this event, I learned that it’s true: if you’re passionate about something, it can be done. Because we really didn’t know anything about putting on an event and just learned along the way. And finally after MANY hours of work, it all came together, blooming with education, inspiration, fun, and hope.