A Beginner’s Guide To Activism

Hello lovelies! It’s been a while! Since you last saw me, I’ve been accepted into 2 colleges, one being one of my top choices! I’ve also been featured on colorSHEpretty, the blog of my fellow blogger Tanesha Sands! You can check out my interview here! Overall, 2019 was an interesting year of growth, new friendships, and self-love! Going into 2020, I want to put more passion into this blog. That’s why I want to start the year off by talking about a topic that’s important to me: Activism.

First off: What exactly IS activism?

To quote Eve Ensler, a playwright & feminist:

“An activist is someone who cannot help but fight for something. That person is not usually motivated by a need for power or money or fame, but in fact is driven slightly mad by some injustice, some cruelty, some unfairness, so much so that he or she is compelled by some internal moral engine to act to make it better.”

I really like that little summary of activism. But, what about advocacy? Is that different from activism? Can you be both an advocate & an activist?

The definition of advocacy I like is this one used by Eva Lewis, an activist and advocate –

“To be an advocate is to speak and learn about social and political issues. It is to bring attention to an injustice, subsequently aiding the activist in their fight against that same injustice.”

I got this quote from the article What’s the Difference Between an Advocate and an Activist? Have You Been Mislabeling?, and I highly recommend for you all to check it out.

So, advocacy & activism are different, but yes, you can be both!

Activism and advocacy have become such important parts of my life as in the past few years I have seen the inspiring rise of so many activist movements. As we know, the 2010’s was a decade of activism, but more specifically youth activism. The Occupy Wall Street Movement, Black Lives Matter, March For Our Lives, and Fridays For the Future were all impactful movements from the past decade that were greatly influenced by youth.

But many of these movements have experienced their fair share of slacktivism or “the practice of supporting a political or social cause by means such as social media or online petitions, characterized as involving very little effort or commitment” (according to Google). Many of my friends who I proudly marched with at March For Our Lives posted the pictures on their Instagram and never took action again. Some of my friends never marched. Some didn’t see the importance.

That is dangerous. Apathy is dangerous. Inaction is dangerous.

My generation is Gen Z. I’ve frequently seen articles say that my generation is supposedly the one to “save the world”. And I see it all the time, the potential for a global shift. I’ve seen in it Malala’s inspirational words, Greta Thunberg’s actions, and the dedication of the Fridays For the Future activists in NYC. But too often, social justice movements take off, call out the inaction and injustice, but fizzle out as supporters lose interest.

Posting a video of the Amazon on fire will not get much done. Sure, it will raise awareness & alert your followers (if they even tap on the video on your Instagram Story & watch it all the way through) about what’s going on, but action needs to be taken to complete the circle. Advocacy + activism is the only way things will get done.

So yeah, post that video, story, article. But send out that petition on Change.org, the link to that GoFundMe page, & attend a strike organized by a local activist group. Tweet at your local representatives, call their office demanding change, let them know that you want to see them vote yes on that Climate Action policy in Congress. There is too much inaction in our world today, too many people who give up and feel that things will never change, so why bother? I’m just one person, I can’t possibly have an impact.

But giving up & doubting your power is exactly what people expect you to do. That is why political representatives never listen and why corporations are never held accountable and why the Fast Fashion Industry still thrives. It’s because people expect the ignited passion in all of these activist, in all of these youths, to fizzle out so they continue doing what they are doing. And they are proven right when large scale movements lose traction and tragedies continue to happen.

Advocacy & activism require consistency & dedication. A livable & just future requires consistency & dedication.

So now let’s talk about how to combat this.

  1. What are you passionate about?

There’s a lot of injustices that exist in the world. Sometimes it’s very overwhelming to dissect them all & what to do to help. But find what you are passionate about. It’s better to center your focus than to be dedicated to too many causes. Burnout in activism is frequent & can take a toll on you. For me, women’s rights and gender equality were issues that I first became passionate about back in 2016. Latinx issues, the Climate Crisis, and gun control were also issues that I began to learn more about & became dedicated to in recent years. Find what matters to you.

2. Research

From now on, I will be dong “Activist Alerts”! These blog posts will be centered about issues that I feel are important. In those blog posts, I will be including what is going on pertaining to that issue, petitions you can sign, and actions you can take to help! One of my favorite parts of being an activist/advocate is connecting people with people. With the information I have learned, I’ll be able to connect you all to other resources that will assist them you their activism journey. These resources will consist of other activists/advocates I recommend following on social media, books, articles, petitions, and organizations. While the resources I’ll provide will be subject specific, you may want to research on your own by watching documentaries & listening to podcasts to gain knowledge about how these issues affect you locally.

3. Participate

As I mentioned before, social media is a widely used tool for social justice and activism, but it certainly isn’t the only one. Use your voice, use your vote! Sharing on social media is great but use the knowledge you have gained to educate others or fill in the gaps on some information or a perspective that might be missing. Find local chapters of organizations near you. If you’re able to, think about joining. Even if you can’t do that, try volunteering or using your social media as a platform to assist them in raising awareness for some initiatives they may be taking.

Participation comes in the form of supporting nonprofit organization dedicated to change, attending a city council meeting, taking part in a protest or rally, and living a lifestyle of conscious activism (ex: supporting local brands over fast fashion ones & choosing more sustainable items for your daily life).

While these 3 steps are some of the ones I think are most important, your own ability is a major factor as well. While the Climate Crisis is a major issue of concern to me, I’m not always able to strike & leave school. My education is expensive & is something I am very grateful to my parents for supporting. However, despite my inability to frequently and consistently attend the FFF Strikes, I continue to share their events with all my friends, sign their petitions, and urge my Congress representatives to vote for Climate action policies.

Your part in all of this matters, so never doubt it.

Hope you all enjoyed this post & feel inspired to do your part to educate yourselves about activist movements happening all over the world! What issues are you passionate about? Who inspires you? Let me know in the comments below!

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