There is a huge gap between the way activists are perceived and the ideals behind our work. I’ve heard my father tell me time and time again that I am “too negative.” Or, “constantly fighting” over politics, activism, and social constructs. The idea that I’m negative stuns me because I see it the other way around. I believe activism is based on love, support, and community. So, we should stop thinking that activism is founded on hate.
So, how is it that people view the message of hope surrounding activism as negativity or hatred. One word, privilege.
It is easy to believe that activist fighting for rights are constantly creating trouble and attacking a way of living when you are benefitting from the same systematic oppression that is putting others down. Now, realistically speaking, people are not actively thinking about their privilege or how to put others down (not everyone at least). But, if you are living a comfortable life it is easy to miss the point of those who are trying so hard to change the way of living. Or, even miss how you can benefit from that change – because we all will benefit from the destruction of the patriarchal system.
Believing that activists just like to hate on things or create friction is missing the mark all together. Activism should be based support of all communities. In order to grow as individuals we must work on uplifting all. So, activism is not about negativity, but about uplifting everyone, supporting everyone, and loving everyone.
I see activism as the ultimate positive outlook. As an activist I keep hoping that society will one day change for the better. Whether that is by creating change in the way our society thinks and acts, by changing the institutions that perpetuate oppression, or both. I am hopeful for a future in which we don’t have to be constantly fighting in order to survive and thrive in a society that works hard to hold us down.
The only way we will ever attain real change is by really analyzing our internal biases and our own privilege. And, dealing with it!
So, if we think activists are annoying and negative we better look at ourselves and question why we are so uncomfortable with the idea of the world changing for the better.
This goes especially to those people who are fighting for one cause, but fail to understand how others are systematically oppressed. For example: if you wore a pussy hat at the Women’s March, but fail to understand that white women still have white privilege, then you might have to check yourself.
And, the reason for thinking about activism in a positive light is simple. Hatred is reactionary. If we just fought whenever the current Administration or other institutions do something we don’t agree with, the solutions would be superficial and temporary and we wouldn’t be aware of the root behind the decisions being made.
We understand the reason behind actions and decisions being made that affect communities by seeing activism as a way to support and uplift each other. That way, we act before another issue even comes up. For example: if as activists we only focus on blocking the Trump Administration from building a wall along the Southern border we might achieve just that, but we would not be tackling the xenophobia and racism that are at the root of the issue. This would leave immigrants and the Latinx community vulnerable to future policies.
However, if as activist we stand up for the Latinx community we can tackle the wall, and all other issues that might come up because we understand that policies are rooted on discrimination against immigrants, and we would work on changing that way of thinking.
In other words, hatred is responsive, but love is proactive.
So, as an activist I think we should focus less on the things that we hate and understand the reason why we feel that way. We should tackle our biases and understand our privilege. And, finally we should do all things with love, especially those things that we have to fight for.
Also published on Medium.