Activism is Necessary for Balance; Balance is Necessary for Activism
Activism is defined as a doctrine or practice that emphasizes direct vigorous action especially in support of or opposition to one side of a controversial issue.
Before learning the specific term “activism,” it’s been known that blacks have historically positioned themselves as activists within our communities in the United States. Activism isn’t limited to race and it seeks its place among communities all over the world.
Every figure and leader who has exercised their voice and taken action to overturn injustice while educating their oppressors and witnesses to their work have taught us what it means to give voice to the voiceless, hope to the hopeless, and vision to the blind all in the name of change.
Because of the advances in technology, whether we know it or not, most of us are activists in some form through work within our careers, conversations with friends or strangers and through social media activity-digital advocacy, but how we use our voice and position is what makes the difference.
In a world flooded with group-thought and social media persuasion, it’s easy minimize individual thought and nuance or even become conflicted on whether or not you are “doing enough”.
- Am I posting/sharing enough current events?
- Am I up-to-date on what’s happening around the world?
- Frankly, AM I EVEN DOING ENOUGH?
I’ve asked myself these questions while examining the authenticity of others (because we all know those folks who do things just for the glory of trend and attention). But then, I am reminded that the life I live each day is dedicated to doing exactly what people post about.
- There are those who post.
- There are those who act.
- There are those who do some of both.
Both are beneficial, even if the intention isn’t pure because awareness is a significant precursor of activism.
Each day I work within the education system of New Orleans, I face the discomfort of being a black woman working amongst predominately white educators to support both sides and ensure cultural and class differences don’t result in unfair treatment of our students. Time spent supporting families plagued with systemic educational and economical barriers.
Conversations with young black boys and girls about societal standards and privilege and lack thereof. Even my time spent as an education blogger shines light on topics that are often evaded because of politics, but need to be said. This is my fight whether it makes it to the internet or not.
But, do know that this fight does not come without sacrifice. I’ve experienced periods of anxiety as a result of so much exposure and I worry about worldly occurrences of oppression and suffering; becoming envious of those who don’t operate based on emotion connected to social issues. I’ve had to be cautious with who and how I bring up certain questions and issues to avoid becoming angry about reception and the like mindedness of my audience. But even with this occasional discomfort, the stress associated with activism is one I welcome because I know that at the end of the day, it does not go without benefit to someone.
Despite the strain, I know that standing on the front lines has and will continue to make me a better human being overall. It’s challenged me to research more to avoid succumbing to following trends or the majority opinion. It’s made me a stronger thinker and writer, which aids in my confidence while speaking about the plight of my people to others.
Given that this is work one has to decide to opt-in, if done wholeheartedly, it is crucial to know when it’s time to secure your mental and emotional state because fighting on the front-lines gets dangerous and can be a lonely place depending upon one’s support network.
This means ensuring you take time to log-off and unplug. Unplugging can seem like a disadvantage in this work because of the need to remain updated on current events, but in a time where information is so accessible, it can potentially be less harmful than one may think.
Some additional ways I choose to promote balance in my own personal life to maintain the physical and mental strength to continue to work within my community are:
- It’s essential to my serenity and peace, specifically when I become aware of the increase in being worrisome and restless.
- Spending time with my son through learning and play
- The innocence of childhood will forever provide a sense of relief for me. But most importantly, working to save the world and others can’t be at the expense of creating memories and fostering the emotional, physical and spiritual health of my own seed.
- Often done in conjunction with prayer, while I haven’t gotten great at this, when I am still and in the moment before starting my day, it serves a solid preparation for whatever life brings throughout my day.
- Going outdoors and enjoying the simplicity of nature
- An inexpensive and calming measure in this fast-paced world. There are no expectations and this for me is super beneficial.
- Engaging in adult socialization through dinner, etc.
- What better way to relax than time spent with loved ones, whether friends, fam, etc.? Considering that relationships often take a backseat to career and family, remember to take time to foster meaningful friendships and alliances.
- Being physically active- biking, fitness class, swimming, boxing, dance class, etc.
- It’s no doubt the mental stress of social issues has damaging physical effects on our bodies, so exercise is definitely necessary for maintenance of health. Plus, most people aren’t engaging in stressful, wordly conversation during this time because they’re too busy trying to keep up and breath!
- Watching and/or attending sporting events, music concerts, comedy shows etc.
- I love sports, music, and laughing, so any opportunity to see someone display their talents is another healthy escape of the day-to-day.
- Journaling-writing down goals
- As a visual learner, seeing my thoughts illustrated on paper (not the phone) is nostalgic and makes ideas seem easily identifiable and tangible.
So whether your activism is digital or through the work within your career and community, you are influential, you are important and we need you to be your best and healthiest to continue to fight for those who cannot.
While advocacy is optional.
Balance is not.