By Sasha Dudock
On Jan. 17, Campus welcomed the daughter of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, guest speaker Nontombi Naomi Tutu, in celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. week.
Tutu’s father was a world-famous social rights activist in South Africa during the time of apartheid—a time in South Africa when policies of segregation were heavily enforced.
Having lived through the injustice and tumult of apartheid, Tutu spoke about the importance of being a social activist in the midst of not only political turmoil but also in every day life. According to Tutu, being a social activist is not so much a career but a state of mind.
Her speech began with convincing the audience to discover their own individual talents and passions, and then going a step further to use them for the good of the people.
Tutu’s advice for determining a passion was to look out into the world and discover what about it evokes extreme emotion.
“What is it in our world that when you look at it it makes you very, very angry or very, very hopeful?” asked Tutu.
From there, Tutu broke down social activism into small things that everyone could do to become a social activist. Tutu’s main suggestion was “Having the courage to speak [out against injustice] even when you think it’ll make you unpopular.”
Even on a small college campus there are dozens of opportunities to get involved with students, such as joining Amnesty International, the Multi-Cultural Student Union or Active Minds.
“Social activism is possible on campus and is also always happening on campus . . . I think it’s because [there is] a good environment for it,” said Laney Alvarado (‘20).
Getting involved in helping the community can be as simple as going on one of Alma College’s many alternative break options as opposed to going home for breaks. Many students on campus believe that Alma “at least on some basic level . . . [is socially active because] we are at a liberal arts college,” said Eryn Corinth (‘21).
As Tutu’s speech continued, it centered around the causes that were not only two core themes in her life, but became the themes of her activism: race and gender.
Tutu explained how her life as an African woman was effected by apartheid and how that moved her to want to fight racism and sexism abroad, as well as how her motivation was not just her faith but also her family.
Being a student, it can seem daunting to tackle big issues such as racism or sexism, but being on a college campus does not limit one’s ability to make a change, according to Tutu when asked about how to make be a social activist on campus. In fact, she believes that bigger changes can be made in smaller communities because more individual voices are heard.
She also spoke about other significant aspects in a social activist’s life, such as finding a supportive community and being hopeful for the future.
One important trait Tutu spoke of is self-care and mental health. Tutu reminded the audience the importance of taking time to rejuvenate and relax because progress will be slowed or even halted if one is always fatigued.
Overall, Tutu’s message was to stress to students that, especially in the current international climate, it is necessary to be a social activist and that becoming one does not have to be difficult.
“Anyone can be a social activist,” said Alvarado, “It doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from, everyone has something that they’re passionate about and will fight for.”
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