By Zoe Crain,
It seems that everywhere we turn in today’s political climate, there are groups protesting something. What with the #MeToo movement, Black Lives Matter, and the protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline, to name a few, I hear time and time again people around me saying, “Ugh, people are always protesting something. Why can’t they just stop complaining and do something that will actually make a difference?”
This statement implies that protests do not work. Which, as we all know full well, is an emphatic lie. The sit-in protests of 1960 in Greensboro, North Carolina, brought to light in clear detail the continued disenfranchisement and segregation of black Americans throughout the early 1900’s. This, among the other events of the 1960’s, brought about the abolition of Jim Crow laws. Indeed: the Montgomery bus boycott, the Selma-to-Montgomery march, and the clear majority of the Civil Rights Movement were “just” protests.
But protests are just one form of activism. Activism itself has a widespread definition, but I believe that dictionary assistance may be acceptable at this point. Thus: “activism: the policy or action of using vigorous campaigning to bring about political or social change.”
After the brutal and devastating murder of Trayvon Martin at the hands of police officers, three black women (Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi) created a black-centered political movement that would go global. Since then, countless more black Americans have been murdered by law enforcement. But bodycam usage by police has increased: and more importantly, so has awareness. Civilians and bystanders are recording police interactions. The next step is for police departments to hold their officers accountable for their actions.
Since the 45th President of the United States of America took office, record numbers of women have run for office. Sometimes dubbed the “Pink Wave,” at least 79 women are running or considering running for governor in 2018: doubling the record that was set in 1994, according to Time Magazine. The number of Democratic women planning to challenge sitting Representatives is up almost 350 percent from 41 in 2016 (that is a TWO YEAR DIFFERENCE).
Though most first-time candidates lose to incumbents, the women are undeterred. The ultimate goal is not, even, to win. The point is to show career politicians that women will not stand for their misrepresentation any longer. That 50.8 percent of the population, 60 percent of undergraduate and Masters degree earners, 47 percent of law degree earners, and 48 percent of medical degree earners are tired of being ignored.
Essentially, activism is anything that will help make a lasting impact. And thus: protests are activism. Because what else is going to change a politician’s mind? If a politician is truly there to represent the will of the people, they MUST listen to protests.
So. Black Lives Matter? Activism. The Women’s March(es)? Activism. What isn’t activism is sitting and insulting the strong men and women who decide to DO something about inequality.