When you’re learning the difference between being an activist and an organizer, a bi-product of apathy often comes along with it. Leading Black Student Union events, recruiting diverse columns for the school newspaper, planning programs over a little bit of rosé, Perfecting all the details can be a lot and exhausting.
An organizer is an activist, but an activist may not necessarily be an organizer. An activist is one who advocates or practices: a person who uses or supports strong actions (such as public protests) in support of or opposition to one side of a controversial issue, according to Merriam Webster. An organizer takes the ideals that an activist would have and gathers people together to organize for the cause. Rallying other people to care as much as you do can prove to be an exhausting task.
I learned how to organize by watching others, but also by jumping in feet first. Organizing is often met with reward. My ancestors have protested and won bits and pieces of battle. This week, as I reflect on Chapman University’s choice to ignore the ‘Birth of a Nation’ poster hanging in the film school, I can’t help but be anything but surprised.
I am disappointed in the president of my university. I feel skeptical that you were able to sit through a four hour silent black and white film with rampant blackface and imagery that glorifies the KKK. Yesterday a friend told me that some professors expect students to watch portions of the film for their classes. Why are these professors so lazy that they can’t find other ways to teach about that portion of America’s dark past? Why is studying Birth of a Nation considered necessary to teach FILM? I wonder why President Struppa is so quick to tell Black students that something isn’t racist when we’ve already expressed that it is.
If we choose not to organize, what kind of legacy are we leaving behind? I think about how rewarded I felt when we had a large turnout at a rally I planned when Donald Trump banned many predominantly-Muslim countries. But the results of organizing are very unpredictable. I worry because many times organizing has exhausted me and caused my mental illnesses to flare up. But I know without truth and justice, we have nothing.
Originally published at https://www.oliviahardenportfolio.com on April 14, 2019.