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What Does Activism and Being an Activist Mean to Me?


Activism, and the proposition of being an activist, and what that means to me is a broad proposition that incites a range of answers. Alas, it must be addressed within two pages of writing, and I believe the best way to go about this is to narrow it down to what I believe should be the foundation of everyone’s activism: the burning desire to see a better life for yourself, but far more importantly, those around you that manifests itself outside of the social structures we are forced to constitute our lives within. I come to this desire to define activism as a white settler upon Indigenous lands and a constantly growing, learning, and evolving academic that found her roots within activist spaces. I come with lived experience as a queer individual whose sexual and gender identity exists outside the binaries imposed by hetero-colonialism. I exist as an individual who lives with chronic pain, which can impair my ability on a day-to-day basis. However, these intersectionalities exist in conjunction with my privilege in relation to my education, my class, and my race. My privilege is my position - it allows me to exist in activism and revel in the title of “activist” to the degree I choose. To be an activist is to use your privilege to uplift those around you with lesser degrees of privilege along structural lines. It is celebrating the diverse activisms of those around you and acknowledging that the power one holds in their privilege influences the form of activism one takes.[1]


The system we live within is not broken - it is working as intended. It manifests itself through the occupation of Indigenous lands, the sustained racial violence towards black men by police, and the introduction and implementation of sports bans against trans and gender non-conforming peoples. To be an activist, you either stand for all or stand for none. Activism means calling for the addressing of the root causes of the injustices we face - and the tearing down of the structures that are exposed. This course has expanded my understanding of how you can express your activism, both loudly and quietly. To successfully take down the system that oppresses us, there must be both loud and quiet activism working in conjunction with one another.[2] It is only through this “forgotten work” of quiet activism - the administrative work, the publicity work, the day-to-day activities, the art.[3] Resistance through art allows for new perceptions of our world outside of colonial capitalism.[4] Capitalism hegemony relies on the expectations that no universe can exist outside of it - and thus, to be an activist is to contribute towards the creation of a counter-hegemony through both loud and quiet activism.[5]


[1] May Chazan. 2018. “Introduction: Amplifying Activisms,” in Unsettling Activisms: Critical Interventions on Aging, Gender, and Social Change. Women’s Press/ Canadian Scholars’ Press. [2] Ibid [3] University of California Television (UCTV, “Angela Davis: How Does Change Happen?,” YouTube Video, YouTube, February 8, 2008, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pc6RHtEbiOA. [4] Sean Lee. 2019. Crip Horizons: Disability Art Futurism. Akimblog. [5] Ibid

Works Cited May Chazan. 2018. “Introduction: Amplifying Activisms,” in Unsettling Activisms: Critical Interventions on Aging, Gender, and Social Change. Women’s Press/ Canadian Scholars’ Press.


Sean Lee. 2019. Crip Horizons: Disability Art Futurism. Akimblog.


University of California Television (UCTV. “Angela Davis: How Does Change Happen?” YouTube Video. YouTube, February 8, 2008.

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