Activism is defined as the policy or action of using vigorous campaigning to bring about political or social change. But when it comes to the actual doing of activism, there is no one size fits all.
In summary, Activism is defined as the policy or action of using vigorous campaigning to bring about political or social change. But when it comes to the actual doing of activism, there is no one size fits all. The approaches, methods and mediums to activism range anywhere from provoking street art to sometimes meaningfully destructive action, such as the toppling of Slave Trader Edward Colston’s statue during the BLM protests in 2020.
A few prolific, recent examples of globally resonating activism include the Climate Strikes, Black Lives Matters protests and the Indian Farmers Protest. But activism isn’t always large-scale. It can take place from within our own homes and communities. It starts with being informed and taking first steps to commence the necessary learning or unlearning of the issue at hand.
But in an unbelievable display of irony, a new American Show called ‘The Activist’, came under justly heavy critique for commodifying the often exhausting and sometimes traumatic role of an activist. Pitching activists against each other in a competition based environment not only minimises the seriousness of the matters at hand, it’s also blatantly ignorant to the often dangerous and even deadly scenarios many activists work has involved, in challenging oppressive systems and large, destructive corporations.
There are also barriers to overcome amongst activist groups and campaigns themselves. For example, with euro-centric, white voices having held the space and power to dictate climate discourse, the deeply valuable wisdom and insights of indigenous tribes has been ignored. Thankfully, we are seeing a shift in this, with likes of the #PassTheMic movement arising on social media, where previously unheard voices are finally being given a platform to share their experiences.
It can be easy when campaigning for societal transformation to become overwhelmed by the learnings and findings or reality. We can be consumed with guilt for being ignorant or not taking action sooner. However, as an activist or campaigner for change, we must learn to process these emotions, in order to push through guilt and anger. Campaigning for change requires compassionate work. Learning to become a compassionate activist, whilst remaining firm in your values and present in your action, is crucial to carrying a movement and message forward.