Alane Varga Compares 1960s Activism to Today
Challenges to social justice under the Trump administration suggest America is headed toward more reactionary times. “These are not new issues,” explained Alane Varga, Dean of Diversity and Student Development at Utica College, emphasizing connections between social activism of the 1960s and today during a recent talk at Utica College hosted by the James Sherman Society.
The dynamics are similar too. “Activism pushes back against the voices not being heard,” said Varga. Many feel separated from the political process after the close and controversial election, helping to explain slogans like “not my president,” and “love trumps hate.”
A critical difference is the role of social media in promoting widespread activism in the digital age. People now have the ability to share mass amounts of information quickly, including signing electronic petitions, connecting via Facebook and Twitter, and organizing globally recognized events. Varga believes that without social media the Women’s March would not have been as large or successful.
Varga also believes there is much to be learned from the social movements of the 1960s, most importantly, embracing philosophical differences within and across social movements. To embrace the needs of others is to begin transitioning to social movements characterized by collectivistic qualities rather than individualistic.
Women’s social movements should include all women. The LGBT community should stand united. If activists can promote unity within and among social movements, more voices will be heard, making desired change more possible.
Chris Lauzon (firstname.lastname@example.org) is an intern for The Utica College Center of Public Affairs and Election Research.