The word ‘activist’ can conjure up a bunch of different ideas, emotions and examples. Activists are often associated with protests of some kind. History is full of examples of activists ‘provoking action’ in order to bring about change.
To provoke can be described as – to cause the occurrence of (a feeling or action) : to make (something) happen.
Right now, around the world people are involved in provocative action hoping to change the status quo.
There was a cool creative effort by Trump protestors in Las Vegas this week who built a wall of taco food trucks in front of Trump International Hotel. This came after a representative from ‘Latinos for Trump’ said that if Hillary Clinton won, there would be a taco truck on every corner. Some protesters wore ‘Miss Housekeeping’ beauty sashes – calling out Donald Trump for his comments about Venezuelan born former Miss Universe Alicia Machado.
The Black Lives Matter organisation came about after the 2012 death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. George Zimmerman was acquitted of his murder and then weirdly Trayvon was posthumously placed on trial for his own murder. Through the power of social media #blacklivesmatter message has gone global and found both support and opposition even on our shores.
The reaction to protesters does not always seem fair and balanced. Protesters for the Dakota Access Pipeline who are arrested for misdemeanors are being strip-searched. When asked about how her arrest and confinement made her feel, Dr Sara Jumping Eagle said “It made me feel—you know, it made me think about my ancestors and what had they gone through. And this was in no way a comparison to what we’ve survived before, so just made me feel more determined about what I’m doing and why I’m here.”
I think Dr Sara echoes the sentiment of many indigenous people around the world who are fighting hard and experiencing the strong resistance that they come up against.
So in this little corner of the world I want to explore both historical and contemporary examples of Māori provoking action to change the status quo in Aotearoa, NZ. I also want to highlight people who have been influential as activists and the legacy that their lives leave for future generations.
I hope the negative connotations for the word ‘activist’ might lessen and the idea of being provocative towards change is something to be genuinely proud to be.
Provocative action – simple but not easy.
Note: Images used under Creative Commons
By Jocelyn Kinghorn, Christchurch, New Zealand -Putting out the word. https://flic.kr/p/jDF24L
By Salvatore Barbera from Amsterdam, The Netherlands – Arctic Sunrise in Libya, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4652566