By Lea Wong and Audrey Taplitz
Activism is meant to be hard, but at Packer, it’s getting too easy. Students now feel comfortable self-identifying as activists after attending one forum or posting on their Instagram stories, despite the fact that these uninvolved acts alone do not demonstrate genuine care for a movement. I am not discrediting important conversations happening within our school, but rather asking our community to differentiate between activism and passivism.
Packer students do not want to be told that they need to learn or do more. It is common for students to do the minimum in terms of activism and call it a day. While we should be striving for individuals to take action, reposting an Instagram story is considered “good enough.” People will share videos of the blackface incident, but will not say something when they hear a racist remark in the hallway or a classroom.
It is better to throw yourself fully into movements you are educated on and know you will be willing to act for instead of feeling the need to comment on every cause. Just because you are an activist for one cause does not mean you need to touch on every issue. I do not think it is bad to be interested in and support many causes, but do not call yourself an activist for a cause if you are not going to do more than the bare minimum on its behalf.
The root of the issue is that students at Packer strive for “wokeness” (a slang term for social consciousness) as if it can be achieved through adopting a liberal outlook. Many students have come to believe that if everyone thought like “they” did, injustice within our community would cease to exist.
Admittedly, I have thrown around the phrases “the conversation won’t be good” or “I’m not the one that needs to learn this” as a way to excuse my lack of attendance at forums while defensively ensuring others that I care about issues. But what I’ve come to realize is that I saw Packer workshops as “bad” because I expected that attending would mean sitting a room passively and waiting for someone else to think of an interesting takeaway.
I believe that wokeness should be far less solidified, and far more continuous than we have made it out to be. To me, awareness is not about going from incorrect to a concrete correct. It is about actively listening to others––especially those who question and oppose us––not with the intention of “fixing” them, but rather understanding their worldview and reevaluating our own. I feel that if we approached conversations in this way, activism at Packer would be less of an endless and repetitive conversation without action or a solution.