I really enjoyed reading Video for Change. The 5 steps of video advocacy are crucial and the basis of grassroots organizing. The 5 steps are:

  • Define your goals
  • Talk to people who have worked on the issue you are working on. What has worked? What hasn’t and why?
  • Analyze your strengths, strategies, and identify allies.
  • Define your audience
  • Decide on a level of involvement and start planning production and development.

Step number 2 was particularly fascinating because I often feel activists ignore it. Organizers must build solidarity with the communities they are going into. Too frequently people go into marginalized communities trying to help but only harm these communities because they did not understand how these communities worked and how to effectively help them. This is common in international relations, the United States attempts to help and get involved in human rights violations in other countries but because of their lack of education and cultural understanding, they do more harm than good. Not only do they not help fix the problems in the communities, they create a lot of hostility towards Western countries and the United States. For example, there has been a lot of conflict between western medical professionals and people in West Africa. West African traditions offer a lot of skin contact with the dead as a part of their tradition and instead of understanding and trying to work with the West African people, the United States’ medical officials put a ban on touching these bodies for medical reasons. The West African people did not respond well to this and did not listen. Instead of being effective, the United States just made conditions worse. In this situation it is important that officials work with the West African people to find a compromise and explain why they believe there should be a ban.

Caldwell states, “the more tactical and collaborative you are in your thinking around problems and solutions, the more likely you are to succeed,” (7). Caldwell’s words are important and often overlooked. It’s essential to do research in communities you plan to do activism in, even if it “just” video advocacy. If people are going into a community, the goal is to help that community, not make it even more difficult. I think it’s also incredibly important for people to check their positionality when going into communities. If people have not faced oppression, they might not be the experts in fixing these problems. Once again, it is important for activists to check their positionality and learn from the people living in this community. Authentic relationships must be formed in doing activism well.

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