Activism, Compassion Fatigue, and People of Color

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Activism, Compassion Fatigue, and People of Color

Updated: Nov 9, 2019

Activism has connected passionate hearts to valuable causes and led change throughout history and around the world. The power behind advancements in society results from activism, which is fundamental for politics, social movements, and specific issues to embolden and inspire change. Activism can look different for every person. Promoting individualized activism styles is crucial to both preventing and overcoming compassion fatigue.


The aim of activism is to be an inclusive movement that encourages people to fight for what they believe in, however, there are shortcomings in many movements because racism has even seeped into activism. People of Color are not as recognized as white people on the stage on activism, which is obstructive to the true goals of inclusivity within activism.


Involvement in activism does not have to be the centerpiece of your identity or consume all of your focus. Instead, involvement means supporting causes that are particularly important to you. Anyone can change the world by joining with others and uniting to fulfill a common purpose.


Activism can be simple as well as impactful. Some of the easiest ways to get involved is to find the issues or topics you are most passionate about, ones that motivate you and inspire action. Follow organizations and advocates that care about the same topics and stay up to date with current issues in the news and share on social media platforms. Sharing through social media or word of mouth is a simple and powerful method to spread awareness of the issue and inspire advocacy in others. Discussing these topics with as many people as possible allows for conscientiousness throughout your own community.


You can also find local organizations to donate your time and energy while researching local, national, or international organizations to donate money to. Another way to engage in activism is to implement changes in your own life to support specific movements. For example, adapting a vegan diet or buying fair trade coffee and chocolate are methods of voting with your dollar to support practices that align with your views. Boycotting companies or business that do not support your views is also valuable in prompting change and is an attainable addition to most routines.


The term activism can seem intimidating because many people think of organizing events or protests, which can be effective, but activism can be as small as supporting a business or signing a petition. Everything you contribute is valuable and will help the causes you care about most.


Compassion fatigue is defined by the American Institute of Stress as “the emotional residue or strain of exposure to working with those suffering from the consequences of traumatic events.” Traditionally, it is applied to health care professionals, but can be understood more broadly as the stress resulting from fighting against injustices and atrocities. While every individual action is important, it is common to feel pressured or overwhelmed by activism because the larger issue is daunting and there does not seem to be an end in sight.


Activism can be emotionally taxing, but it is crucial to take a step back every so often and check your personal well-being and mental health. To perform your best as an activist you must be feeling your best as a whole.


Everyone is encouraged to become an activist and support the causes they care about, but it is important to address the disparity present in activism. The public is more open to white activists because racism has infiltrated social movements and white people are given a platform over activists from marginalized communities.


Many activists that are also People of Color are not given the same platform as white activists. This is unacceptable. People of Color in activist roles need to be recognized and celebrated around the world. A wonderful article by Wear Your Voice, Intersectional Feminest Media, highlights 19 Youth Climate Activist of Color Who Are Fighting to Protect the Earth. This articleamong others fights racism in the activist community by furthering the conversation around representation.


Encompass is a nonprofit that recognizes the need for the inclusion of People of Color in socialmovements. It specifically focuses on the animal protection movement. Encompass highlights the fact that effectiveness is at its highest when a movement prioritizes racial diversity, equity, and inclusion. Successful activism requires diversity because a variety of backgrounds creates a stronger group and every bit of strength is necessary to combat huge problems such as climate change and structural racism.


Ayana’s mission is focused on advocacy for mental health for marginalized and intersectional communities. Please advocate for our mission by sharing this blog, following our social media, and sharing Ayana with other people. We appreciate your activism!

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