The start of Pride Month offers an excellent opportunity to assess where we stand in creating positive change in the world and how we can continue our efforts. However, being an activist or a part of a marginalized community is no easy task, and creating change can sometimes be draining when you are swimming against the current of the patriarchal/dominant society. Because of this, it is crucial to surround yourself with the things that fuel you to tread through the waters of change. A way to do this is by creating an “Activism Survival Kit,” a list of the things that elicit joy, motivation, and love, all of which are the essence of your fuel. This Survival Kit is meant to ensure one’s joy remains guarded, fed, and appreciated. Without joy, we have no fuel, so it is important to use the items in our kit to empower this sense of joy throughout our mission to create positive change.
These items may include, but are not limited to:
Item 1: Resources
The first step to building your activism survival kit is finding resources like books, podcasts, audiobooks, articles, shows, etc., written for and by marginalized individuals. Using firsthand resources like these provides the community with the knowledge needed to create change. It can also provide additional advice on how to proceed in swimming against the current of societal change.
Item 2: Things
For many, our spaces are sacred to us. When I walk back into my home after a long day of work, appointments, or what have you, I want to walk into my space and feel comfortable, empowered, and re-energized. Because of this, the things that make up my space are vital to creating this environment for me. Additionally, these things act as accountability partners to serve as reminders of what still needs to be done and what to celebrate. These items can include posters, buttons, quotes, and mementos, which serve as reminders to keep treading.
Item 3: Tools
It is ever necessary to utilize our tools to find a community of other activists and build relationships with them. For some, tools could consist of one’s phone and social media accounts. Social media is an unfathomably sized web of people; you never know who you will reach or how your words may resonate with others. Social media is sometimes seen as draining or superficial by most mainstream sources, but as activists, it can be used in a way that spreads awareness, forms relationships, and builds strength. By not using social media the same way as mainstream society, this not only reorients attention towards other marginalized communities but also aids in decentering such mainstream thoughts and behaviors.
Item 4: Time
Time is one of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves. The world won’t change in one night, so it is essential to understand that change takes time, therefore providing some grace to ourselves. Additionally, we must gift ourselves time to respond. The world can be upsetting, which is worthy of yelling, screaming, and maybe even throwing a tantrum, especially when confronted with prejudice and hatefulness. However, as activists, we should not seek to antagonize power but instead, seek liberation. Therefore, we gift ourselves the ability to walk away and process before responding. By being mindful of how we would like to respond, we become closer to progress and understand that harsh words in retaliation will only make a surface-level impact.
Item 5: Life
It is so easy to fall into a world of pessimism when your eyes are opened to the world’s injustices and the overwhelming marginalization individuals face. As activists, staying grounded in life is necessary because, while grounded, we can remain focused on what matters. We must find ways to feel the most present and constantly practice gratitude for these small—or big—joys.
Item 6: Community
Community is an essential part of your activism survival kit. The quote, “You are the company you keep,” is one I have become analytical of over the past years. I am not the company I keep. The company I keep is varied, and it is important to constantly retain and encourage this kind of diversity. We cannot continue to grow as a community of change if we are always surrounded by identical individuals. To the core, we must all value positive change, but hearing from diverse perspectives is what makes us think more analytically and progressively.
Item 7: Humor
Relating to Item 5: Life, pessimism can be a draining and hopeless feeling to experience sometimes, meaning that bringing lightness and humor to everyday life is important. As Sara Ahmed, a feminist writer, states, “To laugh at something can be to make something more real, to magnify it, and to reduce something’s power or hold over you, simultaneously.” Humor provides the space for joy, even in difficult times.