Fight for Your Rights
Not a fan of Pepsi? Here are the steps to take if you actually want to make a difference in your community.
By Shannon Mondesir, Brooklyn College
If you could fight for anything, what would it be?
I’m not talking about fighting over who gets shotgun in your friend’s car or who stole your phone. I’m talking real issues that affect the world: poverty, animal cruelty and racism, just to name a few. Each day, more and more millennials join in combat to fight for what they believe in.
Perhaps the question I ask isn’t clear enough, because whether you can fight or not isn’t questionable—you certainly can if you give a damn about something.
Admittedly, though, it isn’t easy.
When you think of an activist, what do you think of? Do you think back to those people marching miles down to Washington D.C. in the Women’s March, waving picket signs? Do you think of the people at the airports this past January, risking arrest as they yell at the injustice of Middle Eastern families being held against their will from entering America, their home?
Or do you think about that student in your African-American history class whose presence screams liberal, plus the exceedingly firm remarks they make when talking about discrimination and the new Jim Crow?
There is more to being an activist than the stereotypical liberal. Being an activist does not only mean standing in 20 degree weather at 11 p.m., listening to speeches in Bryant Park. No, there are many ways you can contribute to a cause that you believe in and stay within your comfort zones. Many people stray from activism because they are not sure what it entails, but in reality, it is easier to get involved than you think it is.
1. Find What Makes You Angry
Emotion is essential for true activism, and, unless you’re a sociopath, I’m sure you have it. Discovering what makes you angry is the first thing you should do before embarking on your journey forward.
Anger is what drives activists, and desire for change is what keeps them going. Knowing what you give a damn about will determine how much you’re willing to put into the cause or how little. What makes you tick? What do you give a damn about? Think about it.
2. Talk to People
Community is important. You cannot stand in this fight alone. How much power can you bring if you’re on a street corner yelling your wishes and desires by yourself? Chances are no one will listen, but a group will make people slow down and wonder what the commotion is about.
Where can you find these communities? Social media has been a huge advantage for people to get news and information around the globe; the comments section right under a Facebook post is just one place to find and connect with people who believe in the same things you do. It’s small, but it’s a start.
If connecting with someone on Facebook is too awkward, a simple Google search of your beliefs and ideas can lead you to websites designed specifically for what you’re fighting against. You’d be surprised at how many environmentalist groups, feminist groups and Black Lives Matter groups are posted up online, ready for new members to join them in the fight.
3. Be a Reliable Voice
Can you be depended on? Will you be at the meetings, show up to the marches, arrive at the sit-ins when you promise to? Of course, life still goes on; you still have to go to work and make ends meet, you still have classes to go to. Because of personal life conflicts, not everyone can dedicate their life to social activism.
But will you do as much as you can for your cause? Who will help change the things you don’t like if you won’t? You do have to be consistent. You are part of this group for a reason.
No one is, or should ever push you, to do more than you want to do. Simply sharing things related to your cause on social media is activism. Do your part; even if it feels insignificant, every contribution helps.
4. Be Patient
This is perhaps the most important, yet hardest, part of being an activist. The fact of the matter is, change cannot happen overnight. Your small victories might tease you into thinking that the goal is near.
Unfortunately, life doesn’t work this way.
Think about all the major activist groups we have today—feminists are still fighting for equal rights for women, and this fight has been fought since the late 1800s. Discrimination against blacks and diminishing white supremacy has been a battle for civil rights groups since the 1900s.
Most of these groups have history, and most of these groups have been fighting for decades. Though many would say we are in a better place than back at the beginning, victory is still out of reach. Remember that your patience as an activist will be rewarded one day. You just have to believe it.