5 Ways to Engage in Activism


You've been vegan since you were born, you devoured The Teenage Liberation Handbook in high school, and you've attended every BLM protest this year (you were the person handing out hand-sanitizer like candy). But are you a True Activist? Here are some small and not-so-small ways to increase your activism, so you can keep making the world a better place one conversation (and one fruit!) at a time.

Don't put firecrackers in fruit.

Perhaps this seems obvious to you, but that isn't the case for everyone. A pregnant elephant in southern India died from eating a pineapple that had firecrackers in it. It’s not uncommon for farmers near Kerala's Silent Valley Forest to stuff different fruits with firecrackers and put them around the edges of their fields to keep wild boars from eating their crops. Humans have many ways of keeping unwanted animals off of their properties, but entire ecosystems are affected by every attack on animal life, large or small. Remember that, and maybe think twice before putting pesticides on your lawn or mouse traps in your backyard.

Beware of echo chambers.

In the internet age, many people get their news by scrolling through social media. This poses an issue, however, because information gets skewed when it's oversimplified into oh-so-clickable memes and graphics. Be the change. Be the person who researches the infographic before reposting it. Listen (really listen) to all sides of an argument, not only so you know how to counterargue, but also so you gain empathy. Empathy is the most important part of activism, right? Incorporate it into your daily routine, and remember that everyone - actually everyone - deserves it.

Serve activism for dinner.

True activism involves making small sacrifices here and there. You don't have to cut meat out of your diet 100% for the rest of all time, but you can also find more ethically-sourced options. If you're having friends over for a socially-distant outdoor gathering, make all the hors d'oeuvres vegetarian, or buy grass-feed meat from your local butcher.

It's important to remember that being a true activist doesn't necessarily mean everyone in your life has to be one, too. It's okay to have a carnivorous friend. Don't badger them to cut meat out of their lives when it's something that makes them happy. However, do bring a delicious meat-free platter whenever they're hosting. They say you need at least twelve exposures to a new food before you'll like it, so have patience, and be a good friend above all else.

Give thoughtful gifts.

Give the gift of true activism this holiday season. Instead of buying from the dollar section at Target, find gifts at a thrift store and individualize them for your friend or loved one. Purchase from a local artist on Etsy. Give the same anti-racism book to all your friends and start a book club. Remember that money talks, so the best way to talk to capitalist anti-activists is to put your money where your beliefs are and spend wisely.

Un-learn your microaggressions.

This one is hard because it involves changing behaviors that seem normal to you. Race in America has become increasingly difficult to talk about because everyone has varying levels of both knowledge and sensitivity. If you think you have no implicit biases inside of you, then you haven't dug deep enough. Everyone exhibits microaggressions from time to time, so it's nothing to be ashamed of.

Read some books written by authors of another race, preferably purchased from a locally-owned bookstore. Follow social media accounts of people who speak out against the little things that bother them. Consume news stories about police brutality, poverty, and systemic (not just individual) racism. The most important thing is to make sure you know all sides of the story before forming an opinion.

True activism is so much more than who you vote for and how many arguments you have with your stuck-in-his-ways grandpa. True activism includes the little things; it's the news you consume, the gifts you give, and how you treat the animals in your own backyard. It's making sure you can see both sides of an issue, stay informed, and gently educate your friends. Most importantly, being a true activist requires having empathy for people who are different than you. Are you up for the challenge?

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