Home > activism, crime, girls, racism, rape, sexism, sexual violence, society, violence, women > Why must activism happen AFTER the wrong act?

Why must activism happen AFTER the wrong act?

Today, I read about how the Richmond High students came together, along with community members and the mayor, for an event to support the girl who was gang raped and speak out against sexism and racism which is still so pervasive in our culture.

The white streamers were everywhere – worn as armbands, headbands, neckties, leg-bands – as hundreds of Richmond High School students gathered on the football field with teachers, parents and community members to express their support for the victim of a horrendous gang rape on the school grounds and their determination to act together to prevent future violence.

The speakers spoke of “building a culture that rejects racist and sexist actions and comments and fights back against the underlying social conditions in which such attitudes flourish.” As well as mentioning how these injustices need to be faced on a daily basis, not just after “one acute problem”.

This is all great. This is all fine and dandy and in fact, it seems like a great community movement at this point and who knows, some of those Richmond High students could go on and be the next leaders in fighting social injustice. However, my question is this, why does it take one horrendously wrong act, or “acute problem”, to create activism within people?

If you think about it, many horrendous acts of sexism or racism (or any other ism) wouldn’t occur if the activism was done on a daily basis. As the mayor said at the Richmond gathering, there would be “no bystanders”. That’s the whole point, right? If activism is performed everyday and people are educated about things like sexism and racism, people will no longer be passive about what’s happening around them.

But what gets them to the point of activism? Obviously, to some extend, something has to be there already. Usually something broad, like sexism or racism. I mean, if those things didn’t already exist, we wouldn’t of had great activist leaders of our time, like Gloria Steinem and Martin Luther King Jr. However, when it comes to individual (but extremely serious) incidents, such as the gang rape in Richmond, CA, why wouldn’t people do something about this at the time it was all happening? Everyone knows that something like gang rape is wrong. I’m sorry, but I refuse to believe that they thought that what they were doing was just fine, even if they might have been in an impaired state due to alcohol. Everyone has a moral compass, and gang rape is off the charts, screaming “WRONG”.

But had people not been educated enough about these things? Did these people who were bystanders, or participants think they didn’t have a voice and therefore couldn’t be against this? And how does one get a voice when it comes to injustice anyway? I don’t have the answers to these questions, but these are things that need to be addressed. We cannot just continuously wait for the next horrendous crime against a girl or woman to occur and jump on the whoa-we-need-to-fight-sexism train. This is an ongoing battle, and activism must take place before these incidents occur.

I’m not trying to knock whatever Richmond is doing right now. I think it’s good that they are collectively realizing what’s going on in our society today and will hopefully push towards a society where sexism isn’t so pervasive. However, what I am saying is that activism after the wrong act is too late. It’s too late for that 15 year-old girl. It’s too late for others who have been raped or murdered because of sexism or racism.

We all need to be collective in our actions and make sure that it’s never too late again, for anyone.

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