Social Activist ‘Trends’

"Don't be a bystander bracelet"
The Elon University chapter of STAND passed out "Don't be a bySTANDer" bracelets a few weeks ago. Photo by Marlena Chertock.

A few weeks ago the Elon University chapter of STAND, the student-led division of Genocide Intervention Network, passed out bracelets with the message “Don’t be a bySTANDer” imprinted on them.  I’ve been wearing one ever since.  And I got to wondering about trends and bracelets like it.

A few years ago the LIVESTRONG bracelets were popular among kids, teenagers and adults.  People wore the bracelet on their wrist so others would ask what they stood for, learn about cancer and then buy one for themselves to spread the message on.

There are multiple trends like this that are combined with a social justice or human rights aspect.

I wonder if these local activist trends have bigger effects other than raising awareness in the area.  Perhaps they spread farther out than we’ll ever be aware of ourselves?

Photo by Marlena Chertock.

These smaller actions make me think about the movie “Pay It Forward.”  If you haven’t seen the movie, I really recommend it.  It’s about an elementary school social studies teacher who assigns his class a project to figure out an idea or way to change the world.  The main character comes up with his concept and the movie focuses on how he implements it and the effects.  I don’t want to give much away, so check out the movie or reviews if you want to learn more.

The idea behind the movie and activist trends like the bracelets are really interesting.  They are much bigger ideas filtered down into a product or tangible item.  Maybe this is a way for people to see how they can grasp social justice, how they can inform others — they can use it as a starting point to educate others.  They can use it to connect to bigger issues, bigger ideals, something bigger than them.

I think these smaller actions and trends are a great way to start these difficult and necessary discussions.  People need to be aware of the injustice and human rights violations that are occurring in the world, and right around them.  If no one speaks up, we will never hear about the injustices and atrocities.

So wear a bracelet, a shirt, a pin, put up posters, signs, pamphlets, write articles, stories, essays, poems, form demonstrations, activist clubs, protests, rallies, or just start talking among your circle of friends, family, and peers and perhaps we can spread the ideas of justice, equality, human rights, love and peace to all, like the student in “Pay It Forward” wanted.  It all starts with being informed and talking about difficult topics.

What are the activist trends, bigger or smaller, that you encounter?


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