Advocacy: An Introduction

A few posts on this blog are indirectly about advocacy for different topics. However, I am launching a month-long series about advocacy (four posts, one each week) because I believe that it can change the world so much in three huge ways

1. Advocacy can mobilize people to take action

2. Advocacy can create an environment of passion rather than apathy, change rather than stagnancy

3. Advocacy, when done correctly, is humanizing to the population an advocate is representing, which in some small way treats with dignity people who have all too often had it ripped away.

This post will be a general introduction to the concept of advocacy, and then the following three posts will show how you can advocate for different types of specific causes/ people groups

What is Advocacy?

As I am going to use it, advocacy is the public and pointed support of a cause or person by an individual, who takes action to make others aware of this cause or plight of the person. For example, Amnesty International advocates for the abolition of the death penalty in the United States. Live Action advocates for abortion to be made illegal. Personally, while I support both of these causes, would say that I am an advocate for the abolition of modern day slavery. This is because alone, the support of something is not advocacy. Action to make others aware, and to urge them to care (and take action themselves) is what makes something advocacy.

What does Advocacy Look Like?

Advocacy comes in a variety of forms. The great thing about it is that anyone can do it, since it can be done with any variety of talents or interests. Do you love art? Then use it to advocate for your passion. Students at Florida Gulf Coast University painted canvases to represent modern day slavery, and used the profits from their artshow to fight it. Are you a great speaker? Use whatever platforms you have right now to start advocating for a topic.

Literally everyone can advocate in some way or another. When I was in middle school, my mom bought a trifold board, glued a big world map to it, and encouraged my younger brother and I to create a display with her about slavery. She then asked the local library if we could leave it on display there. All this to say that even middle school students and their mom can advocate, so can you! Be creative and use your own skills, talents, and interests

What is the “Right Way” to be an Advocate?

Obviously, there is no right way per say. However, I do believe that there is a wrong way to serve through advocacy. In order to really serve the people you are advocating for, you need to advocate in a way that humanizes them. A good way to do this is to ask yourself, if I was in their situation, would I like the way I am going about advocacy? For example, someone may be able to raise millions of dollars for medical aid in the DRC by showing the traumatic injuries inflicted by armies on women. However, if I was a rape victim, the very last thing I would want is to have someone broadcasting pictures of me and my injuries to a tearful crowd at a megachurch or human rights conference. This is not to say that there is not a time and place to use properly framed and respected images that show the extent of what you are advocating against. However, my point is that you should check the words you use, the visuals you use, and the attitude you have while advocating.

Thanks for reading! Keep an eye out for next weeks post, part two in the advocacy series. Also, please let me know in the comments any ways you have advocated, suggestions you have, or comments about this post.

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