There have been too many times in my life that someone has told me that activism is only “real” if it’s experienced through marching on the frontlines. Most of the time, this protest shaming comes from non-Black people that don’t understand the increased danger and trauma that comes with being Black, and in my case, a Black woman. In the past, I was afraid to join the marches, but eventually I decided that I was ready. However, I found that my activism through holding signs and chanting wasn’t any more meaningful than the activism of someone that chooses a different path to achieve change.
If activism is predicated on judging others that are not joining protests, that activism, if you can call it that, is incredibly able-bodied, anti-black and privileged. Resistance and activism isn’t rooted in the physical location of the body; it is rooted in the soul.
Whether you are Black, a person of color or a White ally, there is something that the Black community needs you to do to help stop police brutality and structural racism. There’s a diversity of options, many that don’t even involve leaving your home.
Zoe-Raven Wianecki, a Black Lives Matter activist and community organizer, runs the Orange County Protest page on Instagram (@ocprotests) with over 17,000 followers that look to the page for information on the Black Lives Matter movement.
Wianecki explained to me that in the span of two days, she and fellow Black woman activist, Tatiahna, had taken over the page after the non-Black allies that ran it decided to step down and allow Black voices to be at the forefront of the OC protests. Since then, Wianecki has been leading and organizing protests and vigils all over OC as well as some LA County cities. Not only that, she also explained to me that people aren’t just interested in marching. Through her Instagram platform, “People have reached out about how to make donations to Black organizations, find resources, changing legislation, attending town hall meetings, educational tools and self-care methods.”
Like many other Black Lives Matter advocates, the OC protest followers understand that institutional racism must be combatted through several methods, not just marching. What really inspired me about Wianecki is that her activism didn’t start with marching on the frontlines. She shared with me that after the horrible murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, she was internally struggling to process her place in the movement. Her activism started with creating art.