Am I an activist?

Matt Chung

June 09, 2020

Am I an activist?

Over the past couple years, I’ve marched up and down the streets for a variety of causes that I believed in. In 2017, my wife and I paraded the streets during the Women’s March in Seattle, marching downtown Seattle, shoulder to shoulder with 120,000 other people — hundreds wearing “pussyhats” — who also found it incredulous that women do not have the same rights as men (Staff 2017). And in January 2017, I rallied along side thousands when Trump signed an executive order temporarily barring citizens of seven predominately Muslim nations (Taylor 2017). Then again, earlier this year, I saddled up and showed up with my Amazon colleagues for the youth-led Global Climate Strike (Nickelsburg 2020). And most recently, amid Covid-19, I peacefully protested at Westlake Station to honor not only for George Floyd, but for every other Black brother and sister whom have no choice but to battle the racial inequalities on a daily basis (Knowles et al. 2020).

But just because I showed up for these rallies, does that make me an activist? According to Amherst College, an activist is “anyone who is fighting for change in society.” By that definition, I’d like to think that I am.

Regardless of whether I view myself as an activist, I realized that real change happens not during these one off protests. Real change requires work. Real change works requires that I educate myself. And I plan on doing just that, starting with reading books and watching lectures and listening to other activists about systemic racism rampant in America, something that I’ve been blind to my entire life.

Why am I doing this?

First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out
    - Because I was not a socialist. 
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out
    - Because I was not a trade unionist. 
 Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out
    — Because I was not a Jew. 
 Then they came for me
    — and there was no one left to speak for me.

Viets For Black Lives

Oh I almost forgot mention that my wife and I worked with a local Seattle Vietnamese artist and together, we launched the following campaign: http://vietsforblacklives.com/t-shirts . All proceeds go to the Northwest Community Bail Fund. And at the present moment, we’ve sold 270 shirts! That’s about 260 more than we had originally anticipated.

References

Anon. n.d. “Social Activism | Public Interest Careers | Amherst College.” Retrieved June 9, 2020 (https://www.amherst.edu/campuslife/careers/amherst-careers-in/government-nonprofit/picareers/careers/social_activism).

Flicker, Sarah, and Alyssa Klein. n.d. “Anti-Racism Resources for White People.” Retrieved June 9, 2020 (bit.ly/ANTIRACISMRESOURCES).

Nickelsburg, Monica. 2020. “Hundreds of Amazon Employees Protest Company PR Policy by Speaking out about Climate Change.” GeekWire. Retrieved June 9, 2020 (https://www.geekwire.com/2020/hundreds-amazon-employees-plan-protest-pr-policy-speaking-climate-change/).

Staff, Associated Press and KOMO. 2017. “At Least 120K Rally at Women’s March in Seattle.” KOMO. Retrieved June 9, 2020 (https://komonews.com/news/local/thousands-expected-at-womens-marches-across-the-northwest).

Taylor, Alan. 2017. “A Weekend of Protest Against Trump’s Immigration Ban - The Atlantic.” Retrieved June 9, 2020 (https://www.theatlantic.com/photo/2017/01/a-weekend-of-protest-against-trumps-immigration-ban/514953/).