Prior to entering this course, I did not know what to expect from the course material/discussions, however, was very intrigued to participate in a course surrounding the concepts of activist and activism. The language surrounding ‘activist’ obtains various meanings, experiences, and understandings depending on the individual/group, along with ‘activism’ being viewed differently as well. Initially while conceptualizing what it means to become an ‘activist,’ I personally believed I was far from retaining this title/label with the hope to eventually feel that my input into the world would eventually align with my initial conception of being an ‘activist.’ Yet, after attending course lectures, reading course materials, and listening to the words of several brilliant individuals, I recognized that although currently, it may be little, I am on my journey of becoming an ‘activist.’ Becoming an ‘activist’ begins through understanding the plurality of activists/activisms through the expansion of hegemonic narratives and dominant understandings (Chazan, 2023). It is essential and critical that we question deeply rooted societal norms that then correlate/form barriers, stereotypes, stigmas, and discrimination towards individuals who do not ‘meet’ these norms. Yet, this further questions what defines ‘normalcy,’ that it is essential that while on the journey of becoming an ‘activist’ we utilize our critical habits of the mind and alter the ways in which we imagine in other ways and utilize our critical imagination to help change norms and structures (Chazan, 2023). As an individual, it is essential that I recognize the intersectional identities I obtain along with the privileges that come with these identities and utilize this within different means in society to contribute and produce social change.
To further reflect on what ‘activist’ means, personally I was able to enhance my understanding and reflection through the meaningful words spoken by Mehrangiz, Heidi, and Ziysah. Thus, that activism does not always have to be these big/loud massive acts and movements that often individuals associate with activism, however, it is significant to recognize that there are small/quiet acts of activism that must be recognized for the same power they obtain. As Heidi (2023) discussed in the lecture within solidarity work in the majority of scenarios individuals put a lot of pressure on themselves to do something great, yet it is critical that we recognize that it can be small acts such as cooking a meal, etc., the little work that brings individuals together to further build and enhance their relationships through these types of kinds acts, thus recognizing the importance of the values and meanings in small gestures. Resonating with these strong spoken words it signifies the ideal that social change and social changers come in all forms and are produced in all forms. The value/meaning behind all these forms are equally significant, as it is essential that we recognize the individuals behind these social acts, movement, and gestures (Chazan, 2023).
Altogether, after participating within this class I am able to further reflect and understand the various meanings of activism/activist and the significance that each of these meanings obtains. Activists and activisms obtain great amounts of power, value, and worth within society as it is essential that we move away from these dominant understandings that continue to be deeply rooted within society. To continue my growth of becoming an activist I will ensure that I continue to develop my knowledge of different social issues, participate in community development, and continue to grow my passions within the field of activism.
Works Cited Chazan, M. (2023). Unsettling Activists – Part Two. GESO 4122: Activists and Activisms. Trent University.
Heidi Burns. (2023). Solidarity – Part Two (Speaker in Roundtable). GESO 4122: Activists and Activisms. Trent University.