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Activism &... Inequality

I will probably start ranting about This Changes Everything [conference] where in the workshop lots and lots of men had spoken and the facilitator said we have only time for one question and a man and a woman both put their hands up and the facilitator chose the man and I objected very strongly and said I wanted to hear what the woman had to say.

It made me think that we are talking about issues of inequality when we aren’t addressing it in our movements. But maybe that is self-indulgent. There is systemic inequality and we don’t address it. In climate change movements, we aren’t bringing in the people affected by austerity.

Woman, 40s

Inequality? Sometimes if I try to do something that matters to me they say you can’t do it because you are a child. Or they laugh and think it is funny that I am doing it cos I am a child they don’t take it seriously. It is irritating.

Why isn’t my action valued? Just because I am a child? If I did anti-road stuff they found it funny that I was there dressed as a badger (even though I suppose that is funny), but they didn’t speak to me; they spoke to the adults and valued the adults.

I think it is partly because with adults that is how they are. I have met plenty of children who find that adults don’t take them seriously.

Girl, 10

Well, the oldest thing I can remember is joining the campaign for... in Bristol they wouldn’t employ Caribbean bus drivers. At one point they were employing some Indians but....

I’ve never understood the classification of people by the colour of their skins.

We don’t divide people on the basis of the colour of their hair.

Man, 60s

Something that didn’t happen to me but I observed is that there are two football societies at my college. The women and the men both took part in the varsity, in games against another university.

I noticed a difference in the way people reacted when men were playing and when women were playing.

When men were playing, they cheered, they were proud. When the women were playing, it was kind of like it wasn’t as important. People made comments like ‘Why are women playing?’

I couldn’t believe it was so open. It’s university; you expect people to be more open-minded. It’s the same with rugby.

Woman, 20s

The thing that comes to mind is recently several people in San Francisco have been shot and killed by the police because of appearing to be Hispanic – in places like public parks and on the streets.

Because it was assumed from their appearance that they were dangerous. That’s happened twice in the last year.

Also, I have witnessed many times in my working life people being denied adequate pain control for acute and chronic pain problems because they had a history of the illness of addiction or dependency – when they weren’t necessarily active using drugs any more.

Because of that history, they were judged to be scamming for drugs even when it was quite clear that someone else without that history in that situation would be given pain control.

The activism part comes in where people, having noticed this, have been campaigning to have it acknowledged that people with these kinds of histories still need to be treated as anyone needs to be treated – humanely.

Man, 50s

I suppose, with direct action, what you’re doing is drawing out latent inequality and that’s the point of doing it.

Things like standing on the edge of a pavement with a banner – in Whitehall – and being arrested for obstruction of the highway. And the inequality is that I have a sign that is different from advertising hoardings.

The opinions of some are less equal than those with large budgets.

Woman, 50s