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  • Writer's pictureLauren

Reviving the spirit of actionable activism

Updated: Jul 24, 2019

When you get down to it, tweeting about something doesn't fix the problem. Changing your profile picture doesn't solve the problem. Neither does posting a picture, a retweet, or a hashtag.

Recently, I've been feeling restless. I've been feeling the spirit of action in me and I am not sure exactly where it should go. But, I know that I am tired of tweeting, of using #blacklivesmatter and reposting images. It's not that I am tired of talking about it or learning, or standing up about issues that I care about, it's that nothing is changing. They say that doing the same thing over and over, when it's not working is the definition of insanity. And if nothing is changing then we, as people who care, as people who believe in something and believe in justice and equality, need to be looking to take a different approach. Because if we don't, doesn't that just make us insane?

So often the movement for black lives is called decentralized because it doesn't have a designated leader or hierarchy. But just because the movement is decentralized doesn't mean that there should be inaction. "Social media activism" may help, on the most basic level of spreading awareness and creating outcry but it doesn't solve the problem if we are not harnessing that energy and using it to create change. The power of social media has been shown in the past when it comes to revolution. During the Arab Spring social media was a springboard for change in that it allowed people to organize and spread their message. But social media was not the way that change was created, it was a means to the end goal of organizing and taking action.

If you look back in history almost no problem was solved by people just talking about it. Though there wasn't social media in the times of civil rights, their movement was successful because people weren't complacent about just talking about injustice, they went out and made a sustained effort to have their voice heard. They took action. They didn't do it from the comfort of their bed, they bought in and organized to make a difference.Through programs, meetings, sit-ins and marches the change they sought didn't come easily or quickly, but eventually it came.

Talk can be ignored, as can tweets and posts and hashtags. Action, is a lot harder to ignore, especially when it is sustained over a long period of time.

Though sometimes it seems like it, the spirit of actionable, high-risk activism isn't dead. Look at the protests in Sudan, in Puerto Rico and even in New York. People are gathering, organizing and taking a stand to create change in their communities.

A few days ago was the anniversary of the death of Eric Garner, the day before the anniversary it was announced that there would be no federal charges against the officer who choked him to death. There was an outpouring of tweets and instagram posts, and I was a part of that, resharing the images that showed him as a young man and that highlighted the injustice that occurred. But a smaller section of people really went out and protested, and made their actions match their words calling for the firing of the officer who killed Eric Garner.

I think we should all strive to make that section of the "activist" community larger. The section that works actively, and in real life to make a change in the world. I know, personally, that it can be hard to get out and take action. Sometimes it's not even that we don't want to take action, it can often be that we don't know what we can do. I know that's how I have been feeling lately, so I did some research and I've found some organizations that you can get involved in. It's important to realize that even little actions count, calling your congressperson (super easy and not as scary as it sounds) or signing a petition can go a long way. Being informed and VOTING can go a LOOONG way.

Sidenote: I know SOME of ya'll think voting isn't important, but there's a reason people fought for it, because it's important. It can make a difference every vote counts. If you don't believe that, look at the current president and how people not turning out for that election effected the results. Look at how WE got Barack Obama elected! Look how much emphasis people are putting on the BLACK vote for the upcoming presidential election. SO GO VOTE when you have the chance.

Here are some organizations that you can get involved with to take action!!

1. Black Lives Matter - It's not just a hashtag! You can get involved with a local chapter of the movement and work to better your community.

2. Color of Change- Color of change makes it easy to get involved by showcasing actions big and small that you can take. They design campaigns powerful enough to end practices that unfairly hold Black people back, and champion solutions that move us all forward.

3. Live Free USA- Live Free USA is a faith based organization that works on issues of gun violence and mass incarceration. They host community events and participate in mobilizing efforts.

4. The National Coalition on Black Civic Participation- This personally is an organization that I am really looking forward to actively participating in. NCBCP works to increase civic engagement and voter participation in Black and under-served communities.

5. On campus organizations! - NAACP, Young Democrats (or Republicans), SGA or other on campus organizations are a great way to start. If you go to the University of Maryland, or your campus is anything like ours there is a million ways to get involved in your community and take action on a local level. For college students some of the biggest changes that you can make is on you college campus, especially in a leadership position. Being active on our local campus levels can help us to learn the skills necessary to become effective leaders in the future.

These are just a few opportunities that I found to take action about issues that your care about, whether it be racial justice, gun control, poverty, or any of the other issues that you see in your community and in our nation. Getting off of your phone and social media can be scary but it is also the best way that we can make a meaningful difference in our communities. And look, I know that social media will be a part of our lives and that it does a lot of good. But, maybe instead of just posting words without action, we can take action and post a picture of that instead, spreading the spirit of activism through our instafeeds and and the twitterverse. We need to be the change that we want to see and we won't see change without seeing people out in their communities, doing the work that needs to be done. The saying goes action speaks louder than words and that is the philosophy that we need to attach to our activism.

And on that note <3

Stay woke and take action



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