To face the world’s multifaceted problems like genocide and mass atrocities, we need multifaceted people from all over the world coming together. I can honestly say, that’s what the Lemkin Summit is.
I was surrounded by fellow activists from all over the world including places like Sudan, Chad, the DRC, Cameroon, and the Netherlands. With that said, I want to challenge you all the way I am myself— if we are always in rooms where people look like us, think like us, & share similar upbringings, etc., we need to be actively trying to get in different rooms. True change never happens in the space of sameness.
Our sessions started off hearing from former FBI agent, and current investigator for The Sentry, Debra LaPrevotte. She spoke on corruption by kleptocrats. In case you‘re like me and wondering what exactly a kleptocrat is, it’s a “ruler who uses political power to steal his or her country's resources.“
2 notable takeaways from this session:
1) the film Wolf of Wall Street was funded by corruption thanks to one of the producing studios.
2) Most of the kleptocrats bought media companies with their corrupt billions... because “if you control the media, you control the perception of reality.”
Next up was a discussion about Capitol Hill from
2 former Senate staffers. Their prime advice on effective lobbying? Listen and be kind, don’t just plow through with an agenda. In the angry, divisive culture we currently live in, I imagine this “tactic” is more true (and effective) than ever.
After stuffing our faces with desserts on a break, we heard from the Enough Project founder, John Prendergast. The takeaways:
1) The trajectory of his life (one that propelled him into activism) was changed by an infomercial...I kid you not.
2) He touched on a thought that I’ve been thinking recently myself... like many things in life, activism isn‘t linear. One door opens up to the possibilities of many others. You take one step forward and get pushed back two. You have to keep evolving/adapting.
3) Impact is the end goal... even if it’s a good thing, if it’s not creating impact, you’ve got to move on.
The last session before a heavenly meal was consumed was about using financial tools to address kleptocracy. We heard from Carlton Greene on this who formerly worked at the Treasury Department. It was a truly enlightening session where I learned all about sanctions and how I’m grateful that I don’t have to make those kind of decisions.
We ended the night on the best note with the absolutely incredible, formidable, U.N. Goodwill Ambassador and poet, Emi Mahmoud. She did a moderated Q&A and a spoken word performance to follow. In her performance, she spoke of her experience being from Sudan, losing family members in the Darfur genocide, and much more. At only 26, she’s already a U.N. Goodwill Ambassador who’s worked with the Dalia Lama.
Needless to say, today was filled with invaluable information and incredible stories.
Also needless to say? My soul is stirred and my brain is fried.