In the past, this has caused me quite a bit of anxiety, like when I left the domestic violence field and the skills built over years working with, training, and writing about the intersection of race, gender, and violence were not easily translatable into the hierarchical, academic environment that I was moving into. But these days, I’m pretty comfortable with the idea that my activism is also a practice - something I can build skill in but never perfect. Something that constantly evolves.
Because of this, I try not to identify as an activist anymore. I try to practice activism. (Or even simply practice being just. Though there is nothing simple about that.)
- Activism as practice means my analysis is not static. I try to hold lightly what I think is true because I know that the way I understand something today has to shift as I learn more. That I will never have enough understanding to act perfectly.
- Activism as practice means I’m never going to get there. I will not work hard enough, push through enough, develop the perfect 5-step model or checklist to know how to act or support others in acting in response to every situation of inequity.
- Activism as practice means that the way I’m choosing to act in seeking justice and equity today may look radically different than it does next year. And it probably should look radically different than it did 5 years ago.
- Activism as practice means that I prioritize learning, not perfection. That if I learn something - even if it’s painful- it contributes to, and must be integrated into, my practice.
There is huge liberation for me in this. I don’t have to fool myself, or anyone else, that I have the answers. I can truly “practice” creating the world I want and learn with others how to do it.
I’m learning. I’m growing. I’m changing. My activism practice needs to as well.
How about you other practitioners out there…what’s shifting in your activism practice?