Ordinary Activists

By Jada Drew

Communities around the world need activism because it is an integral part of the ecosystem. Without activism, democracies do not exist, systems are not challenged, and the moral consciousness of communities die.

The New Oxford dictionary defines activism as “the policy or action of using vigorous campaigning to bring about political or social change.” Over the years, I’ve learned that there’s more than one way to be an activist and activism is important for the longevity of societies.

People have said to me before that I’m a great activist. I disagreed because my understanding of an activist did not align with me. I viewed activist as those brave people who were out in the streets protesting, becoming political prisoners, or arrested because of civil unrest. I’m not big on being in the spotlight and I’m really not the protest type. I’m a systems changer and systems creator.

After all, most of the well-known activists in the world like Angela Davis, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Oscar Romero, Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela, Assata Shakur, Caesar Chavez, Malcolm X, Dolores Huerta, Bussa, Sitting Bull, and Mahatma Gandhi sacrificed much or all of their lives to catalyze or continue national and international movements.

It’s the everyday activism that keeps that moral compass of our nation steady. From teachers including justice history into curriculum to political advocates on capitol hill, it’s is necessary to disrupt the society when policy and practices create inequality for people.

It’s the everyday citizen who makes an intentional decision to alert millions of people when there are acts of injustice. It’s people like Jamarl Clark of the We Inspire Movement, who involves hundreds of people each year on June 2nd to perform an act of inspiration and to contribute to the movement yearly.

I realized that art is a huge catalyst for activism too. Christopher Everett raises awareness through his vivid storytelling through film with the award winning documentary Wilmington On Fire detailing the organized governmental destruction of a prominent Black business district in Wilmington, NC. Now thousands of people are hosting viewings and seeking ways to reconcile the brutal genocide.

Activism challenges our current narratives of how we view and experience the world. To keep it real, there are those of us who don’t want to see things differently sometimes, including myself. And there are those of us who are constantly finding ways to help our diverse communities see what may blind us. I’m grateful for being surrounding by people who help me see past my perspectives. It helps me to use my awareness and pair with innovative and creative ways to create more inclusive and equitable organizations and communities.