Friday, May 15, 2009

Don’t vote for me (but please vote for me)

For the past couple of year’s, I’ve been given the “Most Active Activist” label in FFWD Weekly’s “Best of Calgary” survey.

I’ve always felt awkward about awards, and this one in particular. It’s a lot easier for me to be the “most active” than it is for most people engaged in activism. I have a tremendous bundle of privileges that give me more opportunities than most (male privilege, white privilege, economic security, etc., etc.…).

Looking back on the people who have been identified as “most active activist”, and runners-up, over the year’s FFWD has been running the survey, I’m pretty sure we’re all a bunch of non-impoverished, adult (but not “too old”), white males. This stands in stark contrast to what I see in the activism in this city.

The reality is, there are a tremendous number of people in this city, with very diverse backgrounds, doing some amazing activism.

There are tons of people in this city who — in the face of challenges my privileges shield me from — are doing amazing work for positive social change. I think we would be better served by creating ways of recognizing their contributions.

A couple months back, I sent a request to FFWD to change the name of the “Most Active Activist” category to “Most Dedicated Activist”. I’m pleased to see that they have taken that advice — thank-you FFWD!

It may seem a subtle difference, but I think it’s really important. It’s probably true that I’m the most “active” in this city, given the insane number of projects and groups I support and the hours my privilege (and insanity) enables me to put in on this work. But I don’t see myself as the most dedicated. There are many people I’ve met and worked with who have shown wonderful dedication, but who are not able to be as active because of various forms of oppression and other diminished opportunities they face in their lives.

These are the people who I would like to see recognized.

Please vote for Genevieve Balogun

I am making a specific nomination recommendation this year, but would like us, as those engaged in progressive activism in this city, to talk over this coming year about how we want to recognize those who show real dedication to the work.

I am encouraging everyone to vote for Genevieve Balogun for “Most Dedicated Activist”, a long-time powerhouse of activism in this city who made a real difference in people’s lives over the years. Genevieve passed away last month, but her impact continues and I’m sure it will be felt for years to come.

You can vote online for the Best of Calgary 2009.

If you want to recognize me

I think activism is sexy. If you agree, let’s use the FFWD poll to try to make that point. Please vote for me as “Sexiest Man” (in the Urban Life section). Maybe this will even help me finally get a date!

(I’ve posted my list of recommendations for various categories in a follow-up blog post here.)

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