Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about something I’ve started calling the “Activist industrial complex,” which can be understood as any combination of the following - 

  • When someone participates in activism solely to be recognized by others as an ‘active’ or ‘good’ person
  • When someone disguises their actions as activism when the true purpose is personal gain, such as making money or adding to a resume
  • When someone tries to invalidate another person’s activism because it does not match up with their own definitions (example: people that criticize bloggers for not being “real” activists, people whose definitions of activism do not include survival/caring for one’s self, family, and friends/etc.)
  • Hypocrisy in recognizing actions as activism (see this Patricia Hill Collins quote for an example)
  • Claiming to be an advocate for all people of an oppressed group, yet only caring about those in that group with other privileges (for example, the It Gets Better Campaign and it’s focus on the experiences of white gay youth)
  • Acting for/on behalf of another person or group without taking into account their voices and experiences - examples here are endless, but some include non-Muslim women advocating to ban the burqa or a white man writing a paper on women of color without ever talking to woc or citing their work
  • Priding oneself on being an ‘activist’ for participating in action that allegedly raising awareness or supports a cause/group - changing your profile picture to a picture of a ribbon of whatever color, wearing a purple sweater to support LGBTQ youth, or updating your Facebook status to the color of your bra to raise awareness about breast cancer
  • The hypocrisy of the “going green” movement (see more at this Racialicious post)
  • Rhetoric of protection (man saves woman, white person saves poc, etc.)
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    I hate activists. They’re getting on my last nerve.
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