From a recent Black Perspectives interview that Ajamu Amiri Dillahunt did with Bree Newsome Bass, an artist who drew national attention in 2015 when she climbed the flagpole in front of the South Carolina Capitol building and lowered the confederate battle flag.
I often get the question, “how do I become an activist.” The simple answer is that an activist is one who acts, who takes action in furtherance of a cause. I was an activist before I consciously identified as such. I never had ambitions of being an activist, only an ambition to change things for the better. The labels only serve to describe what it is I do. It’s become very hip to identify as an activist–not necessarily a bad thing–but it’s important to not let this word become devoid of meaning. Many of the struggles and movements of the past have been Disney-fied and watered down to focus merely on the tactic of nonviolent protest and to portray the tactic as being the goal itself. That is, the reason for the protests, racial and economic oppression, are erased and glossed over to make it seem like the extent of being an activist is participating in a nonviolent protest. The white power structure continues to find new ways to dilute or subvert the central issue of racism in America. One of its most recent tactics is introducing the notion of “bothsideism” to activism. Every cause qualifies as “activism” and everyone is an “activist” with little time or examination given to what cause folks are actually being an activist for. Continue reading