Let us take a break from the health and other information posts that have been posted lately and remember what an advocate actually does. There are three words that I’ve scavenged to best explain what an activist does. Now, these are somewhat of stages that one our age might go through in order to get to the place that they want to be as far as their advocacy goes. So, we start with Acknowledgement, Awareness, and then move on to Action. I promise it is a total coincidence that these words all start with an “a”.
- ACKNOWLEDGEMENT is probably one of the longest processes because generally something gets pointed out to you and then all of a sudden you see, hear, and feel it literally everywhere you go. For example, when I first found out what sexism really meant beyond the talk of the radical feminist that are men haters, I was mind blown; from then on I recognized problems in diversity in the government, women in the workforce, the difference between the way women AND men were measured based upon society standards and rules, and hey that guys shirt isn’t funny actually. I spent a LOT of time using the word “wow” and “omg” had suddenly become a staple in my vocabulary. When I noticed these things I couldn’t yet saying anything to anyone else about them because I hadn’t gained the confidence and complete knowledge of everything that I felt I needed to know and understand. However, when I did gain that confidence and self-assurance, I then moved onto the next stage.
- AWARENESS is where a person can tend to go a little overboard; you are finding your voice in whatever movement you’re involved in and trying to figure out how different words taste and move in your mouth, because never before did you actually say them aloud. Here is where you get other people to notice what you’ve noticed, you start having in depth conversations, and may even gain new friends or stronger friendships because of it. I started this process in 11th grade (I’m going into 12th this upcoming year!) by not only having those open conversations about racism, sexism, and environmentalism, but I also was able to give a speech in my communications course about how sexism is taught and what this does to the amount of women in the top positions in businesses. I was getting comfortable with talking about it, which is where most people have the trouble, they are afraid to talk about it for fear of being annoying or getting shoved into the stereotypical-political-radical box that you don’t belong in. At the end of the day “fear kills more dreams than failure ever will” and we just kind of have to, in the words of my U.S. History teacher, “suck it up cupcake.”
- Last, but most certainly not least, ACTION. Action may seem like a far off thing that only grown-ups can do, but that is so not true; there is so much that can be done as a youth, and probably more than adults because we all still have that rumbling fire in our bellies that continuously shout “GO! GO! GO!” There are food drives, clothes drives, forms of civil disobedience, etc. My own personal first step of action was this blog that I hope will help me to spread the need for youth activism.
So, all in all, not every single person is going to follow these specific steps and there is no actual time limit to get through them, always go at your own pace. I hope this has given you a starting road map at least, if nothing else.