When I think of US activism my mind fills with images of Americans demanding social, economic, environmental, and political changes throughout history. I believe protests are one of the largest elements of activism in the United States, beginning with the Revolutionary war. In 1773 colonists protested “taxation without representation” with the Boston Tea Party. Since then protests have continued to be a huge element of American activism. Since the 18th-century significant protests have included those by the suffragettes, the Civil Rights Movement, Stonewall the Women’s March, the Climate Strike, and the ongoing George Floyd protests. In a capitalist country that focuses on productivity, disrupting the norm is a powerful way to draw attention to pressing issues.
The rise of social media has also shaped activism in the US, particularly expanding the awareness and reach of protests. While social media certainly isn’t unique to the US, it has played a huge role in shaping activism in the 21 century. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have been utilized to rapidly spread information and resources across the country. The Women’s March in 2017, was shared through a Facebook event and infographics on Instagram. Similarly, social media has played a critical role in coordinating efforts across all 50 states for the ongoing Black Lives Matter protests. Activism has taken the shape of sharing information on what is going on, why it matters, what can be done, historical context, and countless other resources.
American culture focuses on individualism, and social media provides a place where people can share their own opinions and take individual action- such as sharing activism centered posts to their page. One danger of this, however, is an increase in performance activism. As the usage of social media increases, I believe it will continue to become an important part of activism in the US.