Activism in a small town

How the community can display activism

Photo by Madeline Slusher
Walking down the street, men and women hold signs up protesting for women’s rights. The women’s march took place in Cincinnati.

NATALIE walks down the streets of Washington, D.C, she walks with thousands of people with posters and passion to protest against Donald Trump and stand up for women’s rights. Samuel lays in his bed, iPhone in hand, he goes onto Instagram where millions of people around the world socialize. Followed by other activists, Samuel stands up for gay rights. The world of activism is ever-changing and more and more people are standing up for what they believe in every day. However, depending on where you are in the world, being an activist may be harder for one reason or another.

Activism is meant to help people, but not everyone is meant for activism.

“Part of activism is speaking your opinion even if others disagree with you,”  freshman Katherine Freeman said. “This is probably the biggest problem, you have to compete for listeners attention, and if you don’t grab them, then there’s no use in speaking your mind.”

Activism is always changing and finding new ways to advocate for different problems. That being said, there seems to be main issues that activists around the world are putting as a priority.

“In the US, relevant issues include gun control, the Me Too movement, Black Lives Matter, immigration reform, LGBTQ equality, etc,” senior Jacey Cornett said.

Cornett also believes activism is important in addressing problems in hopes for change.

“Activism is very important because it brings up relevant social and political issues,” she said.

Others agree, but also feel that activism can bring more harm than good.

“I do think activism is important,” sophomore Celeste Maish said. “In some cases, I don’t think it should be used because it causes larger problems then we began with, but it’s good to show that people want change.”

Some say Richmond is at a disadvantage in the changing world of activism.

“I do think it’s harder because of our size,” Freeman said. “ We are a small town that probably very few people outside of Richmond know of. We don’t draw much attention from media or the news, so I would think it would be hard to spread the word in a smaller town.”

Others agree, but believe Richmond is still an advocate for important issues.

“I think activism in Richmond is not necessarily smaller because there are a lot of passionate people,” Cornett said.

Although Richmond’s size may be small, activism can be seen all through its streets.

“I have seen many different cases of activism in Richmond,” Freeman said. “There are signs in people’s yard over by Earlham College saying ‘Black Lives Matter’ and Seton Catholic puts up crosses every year in their yard for the aborted. There are many more examples of activism in Richmond.”

Photo by Madeline Slusher
Standing on the streets of Cincinnati, Ohio, women gather around to protest for women’s rights. This march was one of many Women’s Marches that took place in 2018.

Activism happens everywhere, even in schools through clubs and projects.

“I know here at school we have the gay-straight alliance [club] to promote equality for people in all kinds of relationships,” Cornett said.

However, some feel they aren’t as well known.

“I only know of clubs that are created for kids in our community,” Maish said. “The ones that help them or turn lives around. I don’t think they’re known because of the size of Richmond and the surrounding area.”

Freeman believes this is because there isn’t enough coverage about them.

“I think they aren’t as well-known because they don’t really draw attention to themselves as much as they should,” Freeman said. “They just do their thing. They are never shown on the news or in the paper. They just do their things in our small town.”

Being in a small town can be one problem, the people in it can be another.

“It can be tougher to be an activist in Richmond since it is a small town and many people are often close-minded,” Cornett said.

While clubs are a common type of activism, it’s not the only way. Some feel this more informal activism may do more harm than good past the school gates.

“I see it at school, in the halls, people hang things up to change the minds of the students,” Maish said. “It’s a smart idea, but maybe not at a school.”

Social media finds itself as a valuable resource to the world of activism, especially in Richmond.

“Social media is a great way to spread the word easily without having to make it a large ordeal,” Freeman said. “If someone just happened to stumble upon an activist website and or social media, it is much easier than having to gather a whole bunch of people.”

Likewise, some feel it’s easier to advocate for problems on social media, rather than in real life.

“Social media is one of the largest influences in any activism,” Maish said. “Everyone has an opinion on social media and they’re behind a screen without the worry of what others think. When you live in a small place like Richmond, word spreads faster so it can either affect it negatively or positively. It will happen faster either way.”

On the other hand, Maish believes social media has a negative side.

“I think they [social media] add to problems,” she said. “It causes drama and unnecessary arguing between the activists and the people they’re against.”

Activism can be seen throughout all parts of the world and takes its shape in various ways. Anyone, anywhere, can be an activist; no matter what circumstances.

“People can be activists by just spreading the word on certain topics in their community, educating others, and voting for political officials that can make a true change,” Cornett said.