With fewer COVID-19 restrictions, return to activism

TAKE+TO+THE+STREETS.+With+COVID-19+restrictions+decreasing%2C+people+should+return+to+pre-pandemic+levels+of+activism+and+protests.+Protests+and+other+physical+demonstrations+are+always+the+most+visually+powerful%2C+because+they+show+large+masses+of+people+supporting+one+group+or+idea.+They+bring+people+together+and+create+more+motivation+for+change.+

Eliana Mann

TAKE TO THE STREETS. With COVID-19 restrictions decreasing, people should return to pre-pandemic levels of activism and protests. Protests and other physical demonstrations are always the most visually powerful, because they show large masses of people supporting one group or idea. They bring people together and create more motivation for change.

The effect of the pandemic on social movements and demonstrations of activism has not been talked about enough. Lockdowns became commonplace in 2020 as the coronavirus was spreading globally, forcing activists of all kinds to stop protests and other in-person events. According to data collected by the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project, protests in April 2020 were down 40% from April 2019, due largely to the reach of the pandemic.

Social movements have been incomplete (and less effective, as a result) during the past few years, with physical demonstrations removed as an aspect of the activist agenda. For example, the number of adults in the United States who support the Black Lives Matter movement decreased by 12% from June 2020 to September 2020. The lack of in-person events for the movement as restrictions grew could certainly have an effect on the decreasing support. When people are missing the physical side of a social movement, it is less likely to gain attention and traction.

Now, in 2022, COVID-19 numbers are beginning to calm down, and it is time—with the necessary health and safety precautions—for activists to take to the streets once again to bolster their movements. Protests and other physical demonstrations are always visually powerful, because they show large masses of people supporting one group or idea. They bring people together and create more motivation for change. Also, protests often get enough attention to obtain media coverage of some kind (on television or social media) which can help the movement grow much larger.

Social movements have been incomplete (and less effective, as a result) during the past few years, with physical demonstrations removed as an aspect of the activist agenda.”

Although the pandemic has produced incredible digital resources for social movements and ways to get involved individually online, doing in-person work in a large group often has more benefits. Susan McDaniel, P.h.D., a psychologist at the University of Rochester Medical Center and 2016 American Psychological Association president said, “The world is so complex, no one person has the skills or knowledge to accomplish all that we want to accomplish.” McDaniel’s words certainly ring true in the world of activism, where many minds working together can achieve much greater feats than only a few individuals.

Overall, activism during the COVID-19 pandemic lacked community, strength, and effectiveness. This is not a trend that should be continued, and as larger gatherings have become safer with vaccines and other effective forms of coronavirus protection, everyone should show up to take on the issues that are important to them. Activism can and will return to its former self in the coming years if people are not afraid to stand up for what they believe in. The world is certainly a much more powerful place when passions are followed and opinions are shared in the hopes of positive change.