EXCLUSIVE: ‘Hogwarts’ Summer Camp Turns Kids into Social Justice ‘Freedom Fighters’

ashley.rae | December 19, 2016
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Do you have a few hundred dollars to spare to send your kids away for a few days so they can learn all about the evils of white privilege through their beloved “Harry Potter” books?

The Scarritt Bennett Center in Nashville, Tenn. is hosting a “Hogwarts Justice Camp” for children ages 10-17 to train them to be social justice activists. The program, which costs $320, is a five-day summer camp dedicated to “engaging social justice, grassroots organizing practices, and anti-racism learning through the world of Harry Potter.”

The website reads:

Exploring social justice organizing principles & anti-racism work through the world of Harry Potter.

This camp invites children/young adults ages 10-17 to join us for a magical experience at Scarritt Bennett Center engaging social justice, grassroots organizing practices, and anti-racism learning through the world of Harry Potter.

According to the website for the “Hogwarts Justice Camp,” attendees will “gain a more comprehensive understanding of the ways in which they can use their power to create a more just world.”

The website quotes Chris Crass, a social justice thinker, on how he believes social justice relates to “Harry Potter.” Crass asserts “Harry Potter” is related to “collective liberations,” grassroots organizing, and defeating whoever is currently deemed the “Voldemorts in the world”:

Let us learn from Harry, Hermione, Dumbledore, Ginny and Neville. Let us learn from the Order and from the DA. And let us bring forward the magic of social justice organizing to liberate us from the Voldemorts in the world and in our heads. Let us cast our Patronus charm, vanquish the Dementors, and be in our power. Let us come together with others to build grassroots movements, build up liberation organizations, take direct action, sing and dance together, and love with all our hearts. Let us create magic together and act courageously from a place of love for collective liberation.

In the piece cited on the “Hogwarts Justice Camp” website, Crass claims white supremacy is “inside our heads”:

But over time, Harry realizes that Voldemort is also inside his head. While we who are activists can and must be literate in the ways that white supremacy creates profound disparity of access to resources such as housing, health care, and education, we also come to find that white supremacy is inside our heads – for those of us who are people of color as internalized inferiority and for those of us who are white as internalized superiority. Voldemort, like the real-world systems of oppression we are up against, is both a force in the world structuring our society and inside our heads.

On the website Everyday Feminism, Crass compares the evil Voldemort-following Death Eaters to the “white supremacist, capitalist heteropatriarchy.”

BuzzFeed, which has also published a piece about the alleged social justice themes in “Harry Potter,” claims “Harry Potter” has a special focus on Harry checking his privilege.

In addition to explicitly teaching participants about social justice, the “Hogwarts Justice Camp” website makes a special note that all children, including children who happen to be gay, trans, or illegal, are able to attend the camp:

This camp welcomes the magic of all our young freedom fighters! We encourage and support the participation of LGBTQI youth, immigrant or undocumented youth, youth of all ability levels, youth of all religions or no religion, and youth of color. Scholarship opportunities to come. We are open to help and suggestions around accessibility concerns. Be in touch!

The Unitarian Universalist Church has previously hosted similar “Harry Potter”-themed social justice boot camps.

In 2014, the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of West Plains hosted a “Harry Potter” social justice camp for children between the ages of 4-11. The camp cost a mere $20 compared to the $320 for the 2017 version.

In 2016, the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Rolla and the Unitarian Fellowship of Lawrence hosted “Harry Potter” social justice boot camps. The Lawrence program was for children “ages 4-4,000.”

A sample program for the 2016 Fellowship of Lawrence camp shows an emphasis on combining Unitarian Universalist principles with purported themes found in “Harry Potter.”

For example, an event repeated throughout the camp is a focus on “how HP relates to the 7 principles [of Unitarian Universalism].” Principles one and two, which are specifically mentioned in the program, are “The inherent worth and dignity of every person” and “Justice, equity and compassion in human relations.”

The Scarritt Bennett Center is a non-profit organization dedicated to “transformative education.” Their “core values” include the “Empowerment of Women,” “Eradication of Racism,” "Prophetic Justice,” “Radical Hospitality,” “Sacred Rituals,” Spiritual Enrichment” and “Transformative Education.”

The 2017 “Hogwarts Justice Camp” will be held from June 26-June 30.

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