Dealing with Dementors, Internet trolls and letting our light shine

Image: wikimedia commons

At we have a few fan fiction lovers. So when Chris Crass sent us his work on Harry Potter and activism you can imagine how excited we were. This is the third in a series of six articles. Yesterday we learned about love and freedom. Today, we’re going to hear about how to let our lights shine. Expecto Patronum!

Expecto Patronum – Letting Our Light Shine

A Patronus charm conjures up a protective guardian, taking the shape of an animal that can repeal Dementors. The incantation, as Professor Lupin explains, will only work if you are concentrating on a very happy memory, which later we learn must be a memory rooted in love. 

Dementors are creatures that guard prisons, and in the words of Lupin, "drain peace, hope and happiness out of the air around them… every good feeling, every happy memory will be sucked out of you. You will be left with nothing but the worst experiences of your life."

Dementors are all around us, from pundits on Fox News to Internet trolls who fill the comments section on blogs and Facebook with name-calling and insults. Dementors are also the voices in our heads that Biko warned us about, voices meant to keep us disempowered. Our casting a Patronus mobilizes love as the practice of freedom that connects us to our power and express it in the world. 

All of us must work to connect to our own inner power, our own happiest of memories and our own calling into courageous action. As liberation organizers, our responsibility is to foster culture and practices that light up the world with our collective Patronus charms. 

When everyday people in the Civil Rights movement sang "This Little Light of Mine, I’m Going to Let it Shine" in the face of violent police, attack dogs and jail time, they connected to a deeper collective power that not only gave them the courage to act, but communicated the power of love over Jim Crow apartheid, to the world.

We can create a wide variety of such collective practices and rituals that help us step into loving liberatory power. That power removes Dementors and helps us be bold for justice.  We can also create personal practices and rituals to connect us to our power, to help us cast our own Patronus charm. 

Take a moment to reflect on times you have experienced deep joy, liberatory power and the tenderness of humanity. Now go forth and let your light shine!

Come back to on Monday for part four of Expecto Patronum: Lessons from Harry Potter for Social Justice Organizing. 

THANKS: Thank you to my lovely team of fellow Order members for their editorial feedback, contributions and help: Rahula Janowski, Nisha Anand, Marc Mascarenhas-Swan, Caroline Picker, Morrigan Belle Phillips, Chris Dixon, April Caddell, Christina Aanestad, Liz Crockett Hixon and Aletha Fields. 

Chris Crass is a longtime social justice organizer and educator and author of Towards Collective Liberation: anti-racist organizing, feminist praxis, and movement building strategy.  He is a Unitarian Universalist and dreams of the day when his son, River, is old enough to go to a UU Hogwarts Camp.  For more on his book and work go to    

Image: wikimedia commons

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