Write your own definition of activism,

Cascadia Community College Social Movements Discussion

Cascadia Community College

Question Description



Think about the elements of successful social movements that you have now seen employed by many historical interest groups; and consider, too, the common ways that all these movements are framed and mythologized by various media. For this reflection:

  • Write your own definition of activism, distinct from passive support for an issue or ideology.
  • Write a paragraph about a connection you see between the reality and/or the portrayal of a 20th-century movement compared to a contemporary one (like Times Up, Black Lives Matter, Right to Life, or March for Our Lives). Who are the current organizers and mobilizers, what are the key tactics? Which details have been framed by the media as the sparks or the fuel of the movement?
  • List all the artifacts you can think of that are associated with that contemporary movement (these could be images, merchandise, hashtags and slogans, and audio/visual records of specific actions). Then for each item on your list, identify whether they represent meaningful activism or simply virtue-signaling — use the definition you write at the beginning to support your identifications.

Part2(pick one)

Perhaps more meaningfully, they will give you more to chew on about how systems of racial inequity have been built and maintained, and about how some folks are proposing to disrupt those systems for good.

Option 1

Read Ta Nahesi Coats’ 2014 Atlantic Article, The Case for Reparations: https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2014/06/the-case-for-reparations/361631/(Links to an external site.)Then explore the reality of Racial Restrictive Covenants right here at home: https://depts.washington.edu/civilr/covenants.htm (Links to an external site.)

Submit your 1-2 page response to the following questions:

  • Prior to reading “The Case for Reparations,” what did you know about reparations as an idea or as an actual practice by governments? Give a specific example of something new you learned from this article.
  • When many people discuss reparations, it is often in reference to slavery. What other discriminatory policies does Coates highlight as the basis for his case? Why do you think he focuses on these policies?
  • When Coates describes Jim Crow-era Mississippi as a “kleptocracy,” what does he mean? Why does Coates say the idea of reparations has been a non-starter in the United States?
  • Based on your knowledge of cumulative discriminatory practices like mass incarceration, voter suppression, restrictive property covenants, and others, summarize your own argument for or against reparations.

Option 2

Watch Ava Duvernay’s 2016 film 13th https://www.netflix.com/watch/80091741 (Links to an external site.)

(Pro tip! Read the questions in advance and take active notes while you are watching.) Then submit your 1-2 page response to the following questions:

  • What did you learn in the film that you did not know before? What, if anything, surprised you?
  • Who benefits from the prison system? Who is harmed by the prison system? Whose voice is left out in 13th’s conversation about the prison system?
  • What is the role of the dominant narrative in this film? Why does the film keep flashing the word CRIMINAL in big white letters every time it is mentioned? What does the “mythology of black criminality” mean and–according to Duvernay, what is the impact of the perpetuation of this myth?
  • The film ends with the following quote from Bryan Stevenson: “People say all the time, ‘well, I don’t understand how people could have tolerated slavery?’ ‘How could they have made peace with that?’ ‘How could people have gone to a lynching and participated in that?’ ‘That’s so crazy, if I was living at that time I would never have tolerated anything like that.’ And the truth is we are living in this time, and we are tolerating it.” What does Stevenson mean and what are your reactions to this quote?