• Leah Blackwood

Becoming an Activist

I was not sure what I was expecting when I joined this course, all that I knew was that I did not consider myself an activist because I had very rarely gone to protest and I always felt like activism did not have a place for the quiet activism that I tried to do on social media. What I did before this class was post issues that were important to me on social media and hoped that this was enough to inform and teach people about this issue. After taking this class I have learned that there is a bigger definition of activism that I never considered before.


Some of the important topics that I was able to take away from this course was the idea that activism is not always the big loud acts, they are also the small quiet acts. Something else that I will be taking with me from this class is what I learned from the arts unit. I have found myself looking more into and wanting to learn more about disability in art. From my own research I was able to pull out some more ideas that I will like to share here.


One article that started my journey of learning about the disability and arts movements is an article by Canadianart, where the author interviewed Eliza Chandler. Chandler helped to create the Tangled Art Gallery in Toronto which is one of the first fully accessible galleries that displays disabled artist work (Sandals, 2016, para. 5-7). Two of the key points I will like to share from this article is the idea that there needs to be more opportunities for financial assistance for disabled artists, and that everyone has something to learn from the disabled art world (Sandals, 2016, para. 19-52). The idea that there needs to be more available funding to disabled artist is an interesting one, as stated in the article many disabled artist are not able to take art classes because of financial restrictions, to make a more accessible artworld, there needs to be more financially accessible classes available (Sandal, 2016, para. 19-25). I also really like the idea that everyone can learn something from the disabled arts community, even though the author did not go in-depth too much about this, they did list a variety of exhibitions that a person can attend if they are interested in learning more about this topic (Sandal, 2016, para. 52-56). It is true that there is so much for people to learn from the disability arts movement, by having a disability arts movement disabled voices are being brought to the forefront so that their experiences are being shared. This was the first step in my journey to becoming an activist.


I have discussed this before in reflections about how an important part of becoming an activist is sitting back and listening and learning about what the community is saying. I will like to add another aspect to this, I think that becoming an activist also involves knowing when to join the movement. As a disabled woman, I have had to fight a lot of internalized ableism that I carried with me. I was also never totally comfortable with joining movements, I did not feel like I had a place within protest. I also found that I was making myself smaller in the world, I did not dare to ask for accommodations in schools or at work because of the fear of what people would say to me. I think that for me to become more of an activist I need to continue to become more comfortable with my position in life and then when I am able to do this, I will be ready to fully join the movement.


After this class, I can say that I have definitely learned that my new idea of activism is to be always learning about the movements that you are part of and to become more comfortable speaking out for what you support. To continue my development of becoming an activist I will continue to learn about new topics, continue to research movements, and continue to support the activist community.


References

Sandel, L. (2016). 8 Things Everyone Needs to Know About Art and Disability. Canadianart. Retrieved from https://canadianart.ca/features/7-things-everyone-needs-to-know-about-art-disability/




More from the student blog: