Something that hasn’t been explored a lot on this blog is historical figures in the social justice world. There is a lot to be learned in the accomplishments of activists of the past, as well as in the present day reactions to these activists’ legacy. Denny Upkins is back with a look at the historical figure John Brown and the importance of facing oppression head-on, without compromise. CN: Detailed discussion of racial violence and discrimination, …Read More
This blog post was originally published as a subscriber-only article entitled “Yopp’s Guide to Being an Awesome Ally,” at the beginning of January 2020. I decided to share it more widely because it was such valuable information and I also updated it as my opinions and understanding of allyship had shifted over the years.
Just a few months ago I re-published my article, “Creating Social Change One Person at a Time,” in which I talked about how the impact you have on individual people around you can, in itself, be a form of social activism. Denny Upkins is back to demonstrate exactly how this phenomenon can happen and the ripple effect it can create in his tribute to Cherie Preist.
Dennis Upkins gives us this awesome interview with Britt East in which they discuss everything from his book, A Gay Man’s Guide To Life, activism, his new podcast Not Going Quietly, personal development and so much more.
Do you remember a time when you were a child and an adult in your life changed something in you for the rest of your life? Maybe they were the only person who believed in your ability to achieve your dreams. Maybe they taught you kindness and compassion towards the people you found difficult to forgive. Maybe they saw you for who you were and reflected you as good and valuable when no one else had before. Even just a small word of encouragement can be important enough to us at that age that we remember it for decades. That person that helped you probably has no idea that they affected you so much, even if that impact lasted a lifetime. What if you could be that person for someone else?
The problem of activists feeling simultaneously overwhelmed by so much to do and helpless at how little they have control over continues to be prominent in circles of people devoted to social justice. Today I’m re-publishing an updated version of an article I originally wrote and published for The BeZine as “Using Social Interactions to Create Change One Person at a Time” in September of 2019 which covers my philosophy around enabling social change. Enjoy!
For every blatantly malicious bigot, there are 10 people who “meant well” or “didn’t mean it like that” or “had good intentions” when they said or did something that actually had a harmful effect on a member of an oppressed group. This excuse is used so frequently that it’s hard to see a single online argument about social justice without someone having to explain that good intentions does not negate or remedy impact.
We know that fiction can be based on fact but how often is fact influenced by fiction? The beloved show Star Trek has long been famous for inspiring the invention of many of the “futuristic” technologies used in the show. The Black Lives Matter movement has repeatedly called on us to dismantle and recreate our law enforcement systems, to replace the current oppressive, violent, and racist version. Now, Dennis Upkins takes a look at how the reboot of the television show S.W.A.T. can offer inspiration for what police, and related agencies, could look like in the future.
Guest writer Marie-Ève Monette does an excellent job connecting the recent protests in the US to movements in Bolivia that have fought against colonialism and gender-based violence, as well as looking at the question of when we should use which tools in activism.
When the Black Lives Matter protests reached a peak in June 2020, I sought out Dennis Upkins’ writing, whose scathing and witty critiques have been published here before. I’m honored to publish these lessons on racism that he sent me.
When we undermine someone’s life-altering issue by framing it as something that everyone deals with, we dismiss the magnitude of the societal problems that contextualize bigotry, we disrespect marginalized people’s ability to assess their own problems, we discourage the pursuit of solutions for widespread unearned suffering, and we sign off on allowing that suffering to continue.