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. 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.
Image of several brown-skinned people sitting and standing in a cafe facing the camera, smiling.
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. We'll be sharing more on how you can be involved soon!
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 here to register your interest.
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.