Your Activism Doesn't Have to be "Perfect"
Do you ever think to yourself that the words you want to share on social media, which will support marginalized communities, don't sound as good as the words your friend or role model wrote?
Do you ever start to share a picture on Facebook of a rally you went to, then you see a friend post an article they wrote for a major new source about this huge, amazing thing they are doing that impacts hundreds of thousands of people? Do you ever start writing an article or open letter, then stop half way because you think your writing isn't perfect enough?
Stop. Breathe. Know this: Your activism doesn't have to be "perfect".
Activism is about selflessness and being passionate. Your activism shouldn't be graded by the amount of likes or shares you get, or by the amount of people who send you comments about how great you are for holding up a sign.
It's about showing up to support those whose voices, lives, and dreams are oppressed; and standing up to that intolerant family member who doesn’t seem to have a clue; and passing the microphone to women of color; and countering Islamophobia; and supporting members of the LGBTQIA community.
When you make mistakes in your activism, and you will, don't let them hinder you from continuing your fight for tolerance and social justice. Acknowledge your mistakes, thank the person who told you, continue educating yourself about the proper social terminology being used by experts and scholars, and move forward.
By just making that sign, picking up a pen, participating in a women's huddle, calling out xenophobic or Islamophobic actions when you see them happening in public, or writing "Dear Representative" at the top of a letter, you are making positive social change.
Don't compare yourself to Activism Annie and Rally Robert who can plan powerful, courageous protests, that will gain international media coverage overnight, in their sleep. While those people are incredible and inspirational, so are you.
The thing is, Activism Annie won't be able to implement that amazing protest she has planned unless thousands of people show up; a thousand voices, a thousand hearts, a thousand steps in the right direction...that is what we need.
Once you start walking among a sea of strangers who also support the same things you do, you'll soon realize that there truly is phenomenal power in numbers, which is why we need all of the real, heartfelt activism we can get. If you aren't sure where to start, try signing this letter, or sign up to volunteer here, and following us on social media to stay aware of how you can make a positive impact where you live.
11 Ways to Become a Better Activist
1. Educate yourself with real news sources, books, and articles written by experts. 2. Look into existing clubs or groups you can join. 3. Get your family, friends, mentors, co-workers, and place of worship involved. 4. Talk about those difficult subjects at the dinner table. 5. Use social media to spread your progressive messages (but don't stop there; simply "resharing" is not enough). 6. Go to rallies and protests, share the powerful stories and messages you hear from those who are marginalized. 7. Write an open letter to a CEO, law maker, university dean, etc. 8. Volunteer, volunteer, volunteer! 9. Avoid purchasing products made by companies that are anti-Muslim or Islamophobic 10. Use the power of persuasion when talking to people, instead of antagonizing or belittling them. 11. Practice selflessness by listening to others who are less privileged than yourself.
What's important, now more than ever, is that we all use our voices on any scale possible to speak out against the intolerance and Islamophobia that is growing in America. Support your Muslim and LGBTQI neighbors, the women in your community, and other marginalized groups who will be thankful for your activism no matter how big or small.
We've got our marching shoes on. Do you?
Editor's Note: Do you want to learn more about how you can be a better activist and help the marginalized communities in your country? Sign up for the Middle East Collective newsletter to get more tips and stories straight to your inbox. Thanks for reading!