Activism seems to be the name of the game lately. Across the country, thousands are rallying against oppressive systems and challenges to their basic human rights. However, many are struggling with figuring out how to direct their energies forward, after the success of the Women’s March, if they can’t participate in today’s Day Without A Woman strike, etc.
If you’re new to incorporating activism into your life and are unsure of where to start, or you just want to know how to keep the political energy going, here are a few tips to help you move forward on International Women’s Day and in the months and years to come:
1Read, read, read
The first step towards activism is understanding that this is not a new push. Social justice has a long and varying history, and in order to succeed in incorporating activism into your life long-term, it’s essential to understand that history. Before you attend any more rallies, marches, or meetings, take time to read articles, essays, novels, and TEDx talks on topics pertaining to social justice and activism.
Incorporating activism means understanding the ways that racism, sexism and misogyny, transmisogyny and queer discrimination, gender politics, ableism, and intersectionality work within activism and social justice movements. Knowledge is power — and the most accessible way to obtain it is to seek that knowledge out.
2Take small steps that have a major impact
It’s true that small steps can still make a difference (marches and rallies are often seen as the best way to get momentum going towards social justice causes, but it isn’t always a viable option for people to engage in). But the key is to not just engage in small steps hoping that collectively they make one large impact — it’s ensuring they have that impact from the beginning.
If phone calls are your thing, call your representatives regularly; making it part of your daily routine can help make it less daunting. If you’re not into calling, create a community collective in your local neighborhood. What skills do you and your community members have that can make an impact locally? What causes can have an impact when worked on daily and on as large a scale as you can manage?
3Meet people where they’re at
One of the biggest challenges that activists face is their interactions with those who oppose their views, or maybe don’t identify as activists themselves. When it comes to incorporating activism long-term, it’s important to understand how to meet people at the level where they’re at.
This also means that it’s essential to understand how to navigate privilege. It’s always uncomfortable to navigate these spaces, especially with people who you may love, but understanding how privilege works can make these interactions easier.
Meeting people where they’re at means understanding that you may need to have several conversations, including ones that examine several of the same themes. But before we can run, we must walk. Before we can talk about systematic oppression, we need to breakdown how white privilege works. Being able to take these conversations and break them down into small steps for people who may not identify as activists is how we begin to normalize activism.
4Create long-term action
Social justice isn’t a game of who is the fastest, but rather being slow and steady. Consistency will bring about change in ways that are greater than how infrequent action would. And in order to fully incorporate activism into our lives, we need to begin to normalize how we define that long-term action. It’ll look different for everyone, and will change over time depending on the ways that we learn and relearn social justice activism.
There are ways that we can push for inclusion and acceptance long-term, and with so much uncertainty in the political climate right now, we need it more than ever.
Understanding the ways that activism is incorporated into our lives will help us to better understand how to be inclusive and passionate people overall.