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What does it mean to be an “Everyday Activist”?

I think many people have tried to commercialize “activism” and have gone as far as to print symbols of iconic leaders such as Nelson Mandela, Rosa Parks and Che Guevara on t-shirts and caps. Often fetching hefty sums that ultimately do not really help any “cause” per se. Instead, big corporates have seen a niche and opted to capitalize on this need to “look the part”. I find many people sporting paraphernalia in the name of “activism”. But what does it truly mean?

Some find it necessary to obsess over their various activities by posting their “do good” activities but do not embody emotional intelligence in their need to “be the first” on Instagram or Facebook. Often embarrassing those they are trying to assist. Many also loot and destroy property during so called “marches” but is that true activism? I delivered a webinar today in which I discussed what it means to really internalize messages and for me this is what an activist is. Someone who holds dear principles and values that they feel strongly about and acts upon these

For me, my passion is gender equality and this does not exclude men.

Often gender equality is mistaken for “women’s issues”. I think now more than ever men and women face a massive barrier to attaining the dream fed to us by social media, Hollywood and the like. These messages have colonized our minds to believe that ideal masculinity, femininity, success, wealth, etc. are to be held to a Western and Eurocentric standard; often not even attained by the vast majority who live in the West and in Europe. My activism is making sure that these injustices do not go without comment or sometimes correction towards those who perpetuate gender roles. This has made me unpopular at parties and people accuse me of being unable to relax, friends…your activism lens cannot be dropped!

Training initiatives, policies, Women’s Day gala dinners are tick box exercises for a broader problem which is that men and women BOTH suffer undue social pressure to live up to an unattainable standard. It is in the private spaces that true change happens. Around your braai, at your dinner party, at your religious gathering…these are the spaces where minds can be changed. Your activism does not always have to amount to a march or angry online post. Your activism can simply be speaking out when your colleague is made fun of for their accent or when people’s ideas are dismissed at the boardroom table and then celebrated 10 minutes later because the idea is being presented by a “more acceptable” voice. These are the everyday actions…activism is about acting, doing your part in whatever way you think can make the world better.

People often claim that the government must correct poor behavior through laws or that school teachers need to be stricter and teach better. No…the change starts in how we as people behave and condone and/or reject poor world views that perpetuate injustices toward men and women; boys and girls.

I put this to you, how do you or could you become an everyday activist without praise, in the quiet moments, when no one is watching? That…is true everyday activism.

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