OWLS OF HOPE: In the Face of Hate, Harry Potter Fans Unite to Send Welcome Letters to Refugees
The Harry Potter Alliance (HPA), an international non-profit that uses the power of stories to fight real world injustice, is calling on Harry Potter fans to challenge the U.S. State Department’s recent cap on refugee admissions by sending Owls of Hope. On September 17, 2018, the U.S. State Department announced that it would cap refugee admissions at just 30,000 people — a record low for a country that was once a world leader in refugee resettlement. To address this crisis, the HPA is rallying fans to respond with love, open arms, and owls.
As a part of the HPA’s Dumbledore’s Army Fights Back campaign, fans can send “Owls of Hope”: letters addressed to refugees welcoming them to the United States and countries around the world. Drawing on inspiration from the Harry Potter series, the letters harken back to the very beginning of Harry’s story when he received a flood of owls carrying letters that welcomed him to Hogwarts. Those letters changed everything about his life: where he lived, who he shared community with, and what was possible for his future. For refugees, resettlement offers a similar radical change. Through the letters delivered by Owls of Hope, we hope to offer refugees a feeling of welcome despite the State Department’s announcement and the pervasive xenophobia currently shaping U.S. policy and media. For fans, the Hogwarts letters represent hope, friendship, and joy, and we look forward to spreading this loving, exciting way to challenge a disheartening, cruel policy.
Fans looking to participate can submit their owls at thehpalliance.org/owlsofhope. The letters will be delivered to refugees in Dallas, TX via two local nonprofits: For the Nations Refugee Outreach, a local non-profit that provides educational services and resettlement support to refugees, and Northwest Community Center, which provides programming and resources for refugee children and their families. All letters should include messages of welcome and support, and fans can even share about they favorite books and movies. After all, what better way for fans to bond than by talking about Harry Potter?
The U.S. State Department’s announcement is part of a larger strategy to close the U.S. borders and blame black and brown immigrants for the country’s problems. This racist, xenophobic strategy is alive in many parts of the western world. The Australian government continues to imprison 102 refugee children on the island nation of Nauru (the U.S. detains migrant children in far higher numbers). Greece detains migrants, too, in the Moira camp that is now being called a humanitarian crisis. Hungary recently made it illegal to help undocumented migrants. Anti-immigrant parties have surged in the polls in Italy, Sweden, and other European countries. Unchecked xenophobic policies and rhetoric that endanger refugees anywhere must be quickly countered with messages of welcome, openness, and love. For Harry Potter fans writing from outside the U.S., their letters will be delivered to Any Refugee, a program devoted to providing love and comfort to refugee children. More than half of the world’s 68.5million refugees are children.
Owls of Hope is part of the HPA’s new collective resistance campaign, Dumbledore’s Army Fights Back. Previously, #DAFightsBack has engaged fans in discussion about fandom and open borders, called for the administration to #Welcome75K refugees, celebrated Banned Books Week with stories from immigrant and refugee communities, and hosted WROCK to Reunite, a livestream supporting Define American’s Week of Witness and devoted to singing wizard rock lullabies for the then 400+ children still separated from their parents by the Trump administration’s family separation crisis.
DAFightsBack will continue to provide opportunities to push back against bigotry while focusing on actions that help individuals feel more connected to one another and to the larger movement for liberation. #DAFightsBack will have additional actions around immigration and the family separation crisis throughout Fall [sic] 2018 and will continue in 2019 to address other social justice topics and help fans come together to push back against hate.
To learn more about the HPA and #DAFightsBack, please visit http://thehpalliance.org/dafightsback
The Harry Potter Alliance (www.thehpalliance.org) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit that turns fans into heroes. We’re changing the world by making activism accessible through the power of story. Since 2005, we’ve engaged millions of fans through our work for equality, human rights, and literacy.