What does it mean to be down for the cause? The answer isn’t that simple. I could give you a list of things that determine whether you are “woke” or not — but that would be too easy. The reason I say that is because I’ve been having trouble answering that question; I’m afraid I come off naïve, reckless, and pretentious sometimes.
But regardless, I would like to make the argument that I think needs to be said: You are down for the cause when you put your life on the line.
Imagine a world where we had the things we all asked for. What would it take, realistically speaking, to make that happen? Putting your life on the line. For example, say I wanted to be rich. Let’s set aside the debate whether the lower class is aware of their rudimentary oppression or not: being economically wealthy means you are more likely to be murdered under the right circumstances. This shows, then, that asking for anything means putting your life on the line.
Everything comes with a risk – big or small – so why not give it your all? You say you have your future to worry about, but what about the millions of other people getting screwed over? Do their lives not compare to yours? I agree that it’s silly to think we’ll get all the things we want during our lifetime, but why will you not work for the betterment of the future? Deflection of assuming the appropriate responsibilities is what perpetuates the cycle of stagnation.
Putting your life on the line can mean not caring what happens to your reality, yourbeing. Although I’m forever thankful for Wake Forest paying for the majority – if not all and then some – of my expenses, I don’t care if I go to jail, expelled, or even die. Why? Because I recognize that the only way to create true meaningful change is to not care what happens to you. I understand that this is easier than done and that it’s likely asking for a lot out of people, but what other way do you expect to create the change you want? Speakers that no one goes to, meetings that people don’t care about, and flyers that people don’t read clearly hasn’t been doing anything – so why not try something different?
Now, I’m not claiming to be the messiah of activism and I’m sure that my ideas will change over time, but as for the time being, it only makes sense to me that people need to do more than what they’re doing now to get what they want. That means, for example, barricading Reynolda hall, sit-ins in front of the president’s office, or consistent walk-outs. These are things that put one’s life on the line and results in concrete change. Never mind the apathy that swallows this campus, imagine if half the school did one of those things? “Prestigious Wake Forest under attack from their own students. Their demands are x, y, and z.” The fact that an event would get local or even state news worthy means that the school would need to listen to us because of the political force we would have created.
But how, you may ask, do we do things like that? Let me start off with a controversial opinion: full democracy doesn’t work. If we had everything we do go to a vote with a group of people that jump in and out of a club, then we won’t be able to effectively achieve what we want. The power of organizing large-scale activism relies on a few rather than the all because ideas can be formulated easier and discussed faster. How we choose our representatives is where it gets a bit tricky. A couple of friends and I have thought of a club that would deal with the organizing of such events through club representation under larger council called the Justice Council. This is where representatives of certain clubs toss ideas to the executive for them to relay the message to other clubs for support. This way, only a few people are organizing while many people become aware of the event.
So, what does this mean? It means that our current efforts have been futile. By working through the administration, we’ve given our power over to the same people we want to change our status quo. If we want things to happen, we must put our selves on the lineand give the power back to the students and those that represent the students. For far too long, we have played into the Right’s side of politics (easy going, that it’s time for something new. Overton Window theory states that the compromising middle ground gets shifted by radical perspectives, and so I’m more than willing to be painted as that: the anthesis to the Right. So, to be down for the cause means taking big, calculated steps towards a broad goal – otherwise we fall ill to painfully slow wheel of change.