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Can a Year of Social and Political Unrest Give Rise to a Generation of Activists? We hope so

Police brutality in the United States is nothing new, especially for people of color. According to PNAS, in every 1000 black men, one of them dies in the hands of police officers. The risk gets bigger for black men aged between 20 and 35, statistics that the Black Lives Matter movement is hell-bent on fixing.

What started as a social media protest using the hashtag #blacklivesmatter is now a breeding ground for future activists, activists looking to end racism and liberate its people. The series of untimely deaths of black folks in the hands of police enforcement saw BLM expand its outreach and gain more followers, giving rise to a new era of activism.

Photo by Life Matters from Pexels

Could We See a Rise in Social and Political Activists?

Protests in America have a long-standing history. Social and political activists traversing streets, holding protest signs bearing powerful messages, and chanting various slogans are not uncommon.

Who thought that more than six decades later, after the civil rights movement was formed, blacks would still be fighting for equality?

Considering the seriousness of the matter, children as young as nine are taking up significant roles in activism.

Zyah Brown is one such example. Being black, this 9-year-old girl sees the painful realities of her community and is using her love for music and poetry to bring awareness to various social injustices. Zada Smallwood, Zoe Lashley, Aniyah Vines, Antonio Moore, Joshua Turner, and Rahim are only a fraction of the many young people taking a stand against black oppression and bringing into the limelight the harsh truth of being part of the African-American community.

These brave young people are ready to wear their hearts on their sleeves and fight for what's right, never settling until it’s right.

What’s the Biggest Motivator of Future Activists?

Over the past year, activists have captured the world’s attention. They are now more pronounced and visible. Their relentless motivation to drive change and highlight social injustices only grows more intense. And it is working.

It is highly unlikely that a 3-year-old will say, ‘I want to be an activist when I grow up.” But considering the escalating numbers of young activists, we are left to wonder, “What motivates activists? What are their trigger factors?

Let's see.

        Vision for Society

One of activists’ biggest motivators is a vision for society; to get rid of society that stinks of inequality and injustice. Their vision for safer streets is what gets them out of bed every morning.

        Personal Stories

Some unfortunate real-life experiences will drive you to tears. Many are drawn to activism from struggles they or people they know have experienced. They identify with the injustices and make a pact with themselves to put an end to them.

        For the future generation

Parents always want the best for their kids. Therefore, to create a comfortable living environment for future generations, activists will rise to condemn social evils.

Activism is Never a Walk in The Park

As many activists will agree, activism has its fair share of challenges.

For starters, changing the community is not a one-day affair. It takes a considerable time for actual change to happen. I mean, we are still fighting for African-American rights, more than half a century later.

A lack of solid leadership and an insignificant number of followers in activist movements is another problem crippling the fight for people’s rights. With poor leadership, a movement loses direction and morale, which goes a long way to threaten its existence.

Last but not least, activists sometimes come face to face with the harsh realities of life, police brutality being one of them. We have watched news of police officers using lethal force to disperse disgruntled citizens, with some activists getting arrested.

However, with the determination, this new breed of activists possesses, nothing, not even such challenges, seem to be stop them.

Following in the Footsteps of Martin Luther King, Jr

Martin Luther King, Jr: a notable name in America's history, who fought to end the withering injustice against black folks. As the civil rights movement leader, King spearheaded the Montgomery Bus Boycott, which was instrumental in the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Despite, in several events, being a target of uncouth white supremacists, King did not pump his brakes on his quest to bring an end to racial segregation. His hunger only got worse, preaching peace while advocating for an end to segregation through equality.

The assassination of Martin Luther King Jr in 1968 led to an outrage among black Americans. And from the rampant black profiling and racism still deep-rooted into American soil, it is as if we are still in the 1950s.

As stated earlier, activists suffer tribulations and harassment in the pursuit of equality. What happened to Martin Luther King Jr. is only a chapter of it.

In 2021, several decades later after King’s death, racial unrest is still a cause for concern. We have come a long way from the 1950s, but Martin Luther King's vision for America is only partially achieved.

2020: A Year that Propelled Activism to Newer Heights

Over the years, it seemed like people of color had grown numb to police brutality and inequality. However, with the series of black killings resulting from police brutality, Black Americans snapped out of whatever made inequality seem normal. The realization that the deep racial wounds are still far away from healing made more people want to confront racism raise awareness on other issues such as mental health stigma, political, gun, and sexual violence.

What Does Activism Means for Future Generations?

The series of political and social events that happened in 2020 was enough to shape the future. As a result, we have seen a surge in the number of civil rights activists looking to move the needle towards change.

Activism has long been the remedy to combat hopelessness. The tool of choice, wielded by past, current and future generations in their quest to be heard, demands equality and justice. It facilitates and produces transformational change. But above all it instills hope and empowers the future to see change as an extension of their willingness, and well within their reach.

 

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