As a young adult in the 21st Century, we are often relied on to change the injustices in the world.
Social, political, and economical injustices damage our society and can carry on into future generations. It’s our job to make society a better place for our children and grandchildren, to change all the wrongs in the world. It’s our job to inform, show, and support those who stand up and have their voices heard. Activism is the key to solving our problem in the world. This is what we all should be doing to better our community. But, first you much ask yourself…am I an activist?
Before I started this project, I had a very vague idea about what it meant to be an activist. I knew it involved people fighting for a change, but I was not clear on how they did this. According to the book Grassroots by Jennifer Baumgardner and Amy Richards, they “. . . define activism as consistently expressing one’s values with the goal of making the world more just” (Prologue, page xix). Growing up, I never saw anyone close to me stand up and take action against anything. Sure, they spread awareness and told everyone about how wrong something was. But, they never protested or signed petitions for change.
So, with the definition and how I grew up in mind, I decided to evaluate myself and determine if I am an activist.
Before I get to my results, I want to talk about what activism means to me and a few people around me. When I think of activism, the first thing I think of is protests. When it comes to social issues, sometimes the best way to get the point across is to peacefully march in/around a certain area. However, thanks to the media and the limitations of my secondary education, most protests I hear about are bad. Media involvement is an entirely different topic, so I won’t dwell on that.
Talking to my parents, I found out that they have every strong opinions about activism. Both my mother and father explained how they “are all for getting your voice heard”, but within reason. They won’t go out and march or anything, but the respect those who do that. However, the moment protests start getting out of hand and aggressive, particularly against authority figures, you’re no longer having your voice heard. They moment you disrespect an authority figure or hurt innocent bystanders, your voice is no longer heard.
Now my grandmother is a different story. She wants young people to go out and be activist because “[we] are the generation that can shape the future.” She doesn’t always understand the reasoning behind the protest – what promoted them to do this – but she fully supports it, as long as it’s peaceful!
I’m used to how my family views activism, I grew up seeing it. But, what’s interesting, is how friends and other people my age think about activism and being an activist. On April 21, 2015, I created a poll on the myumbc discussion boards, asking the community if they consider themselves an activist. Often feeling like a lone shark at UMBC, I wanted to see if other people had as much difficultly coming up with an answer.
Going into the poll, I expected “Yes” to be the winning response, yet that wasn’t the case. Twenty-six people said they didn’t consider themselves an activist, while twenty-three said they were. I was also surprised to see nine people saw themselves as “situational activists” and two only participated in online activism. Seeing the variety of answers, as well as listening to people describe what activism means to them, I came up with my answer.
I am a “situational”/online activist. In class, I believe we labeled this type of activism as passive activism. I’ll admit, I never go out of my way to have my voice heard, unless it is in my household. I don’t like confrontation, so that’s possibly a contributing factor. However, I will spread awareness on social media outlets and talk to those around me about injustices in the world, even if we don’t see eye to eye.
So, does this mean I’m an activist?
I’m not sure. But, if you ask Blimey Cow, I am definitely NOT and activist.