Why am I an activist? I ask this question to myself sometimes, when the steadfast stress of being politically and socially aware at all times takes a toll on my mental health. I feel like I am angry all the time.
Being a social activist is not easy. It is definitely rewarding, but not easy. I am not aggressively active in politics and I haven’t cut ties from the luxuries of my privileges like some activists have. But even then, the constant spiral of knowing that antiquated stereotypes are continuously keeping certain groups of people from accessing opportunities has the tendency of leaving you feeling a little emotionally exhausted.
I am a woman of color, and that in itself are two categories of people who are subjected to constant discrimination. As a woman and a person of color who is conscious of being negatively stereotyped by society, I don’t have much of a choice other than to advocate against sexism and racism.
But men, white men, white women, these people all have certain privileges over me that allow them to not have to face the same challenges that I do. So when I see a man speaking out against sexist discrimination in the work place like the gender pay gal, even though he was never personally affected by it, it makes me realize how important it is for everyone to be an activist. Everyone needs to feel this same anger. It is only when we are angry that we can rage a change in the society.
I have come to realize that being an activist should never be about what affects you and only you – although that can be an acute motivation – it should be about what affects the society and all the other marginalized sections negatively incorporated in it. Just like I want someone who doesn’t have to deal with sexism or racism to use their privilege to allow me to have a louder voice, I will use my privilege to allow those who do not have a platform as large as mine.
I am an activist because I care, not only about the problems that I have to face, but about the problems that are keeping those around me from reaching their fullest potential.
I am an activist because I believe in equality so notoriously that I am willing to give up the tactile peace of not caring, as should you.