We Need Activism Now More Than Ever
The past few decades have seen huge steps forwards in the political rights and social status of women, LGBTQ+individuals, and people of color. Things are still terrible today, and new challenges have arisen to take the place of the old, but in general, there has been progress for communities that aren’t white male straight and cis-gendered. A sure sign of this progress is the backlash that has accompanied it —the fact that white men are scared of losing their unfair privileges, it’s a sure sign that there is something to be scared of.
One thing is often forgotten by those that have liberal tendencies ideologically, but aren’t activists: the fact that this progress has never happened on its own. I often hear things like, “things are getting better,” or “look how far we’ve come” or “women will earn as much as men soon, just be patient,” but this sentiment completely negates the reality of the progress of the past decades: that every single step, however minute, has only happened because people fought tooth and nail for it.
And those people who are fighting for it have risked their lives and livelihoods to do so — just like during the Black Lives Matter movement today. The problem of police violence and of racism in general isn’t just going to disappear on its own — unless it is denounced and fought, it will continue to fester and grow. This is why activists of color are risking their lives to fight back.
The fact is that progress, historically, has not been a snowball that grows and gains momentum, but a boulder that we are pushing up a hill, and that rolls backwards every time we let go.
Liberals need to stop believing that things move forward on their own — this naive assertion that whether it is racial equality, gender equality, LGBTQ rights or democracy across the world, history was carrying us forwards to a better world. And that since history is taking care of it, they don’t have to.
Usually this just means the entire burden of social change falls on the shoulders of those who are in immediate danger — who can’t sit back, relax and wait for better days. Patience is reliant on privilege because it means that during the wait you are protected.
This naïve, lazy liberalism took a hit with Trump being elected — suddenly people realised how fast it was possible to backslide on questions of equality.
But I’m concerned about many reactions to Biden’s election. Yes, it’s a great thing. Thank goodness that Trump is gone. But now we have to get back to work — especially those privileged enough to not be in the front line of suffering. Trump wasn’t a glitch in the matrix of progress. We’re not returning to the natural order of history, moving forwards towards a better world.
Better worlds don’t come on their own because those few who are enjoying the crappy world hold on so fiercely. It’s insulting to the people working very hard to have their rights respected to act like everything moves forwards on its own.
Let’s enjoy Biden’s election, let’s celebrate it. Then let’s remember that 71 million people voted for a white supremacist racist. And let’s get back to work — because there is so much left to be done.
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