Occasionally, the best way to learn how to do something well is by learning what not to do. I empower people to be good advocates for social change, but these days I am seeing a lot of bad activism. Here are things not to say if you want your advocacy and activism to be better-received. 

Bad Advocates Ignore Being Rubbed the Wrong Way

Before I begin with what not to say, I want to give you one caution. It is likely that a few (if not more) of these statements might make you feel upset or confused. This is actually a good thing. Perceive it as your invitation to do the following:

1.) Consider the concept addressed in the statement, by asking what it means and why someone well-trained in activism is saying it. You are welcome to disregard it, however, as this post teaches you how to not be a bad advocate for social change, I challenge you to understand and examine what you believe about the concept. 

2.) Look at your reaction to the statement in greater depth. This will help you become a better advocate overall. Mature advocates do not thrive on reactions and angry activism. Rather, they know what they believe and are advocating from a space of healing/wholeness. Discovering your “triggers” gives you a chance to continue healing. In addition, they also empower you to practice the discipline of wise responses.

Inspirational scene of man on mountain for meme of really bad activism and advocacy advice as inspirational quotes

Bad Inspirational Advice

To make these more memorable, I decided to write these out as if they are inspirational quotes or ancient proverbs. Just very bad ones. Imagine them overlayed on a generic istock photo, hanging above a desk. Your lifehack is to never listen to their guidance.

  • Raise your voice loudly for the “voiceless” because they don’t need your mic passed to them.
  • Always remember, nonprofits matter more than people.
  • Believe in yourself. You have better ideas than the people you’re serving.
  • Turn up the nastiness of your angry voice to join it with the outraged masses for change.
  • Don’t be dismayed, for you can always force people to listen.
  • Burnout is a myth. Caring for the world comes first.
  • Allyship is allysh*t.
  • You alone can rescue those unfortunate impoverished children far away.
  • Survivor voices don’t matter.
  • You are the savior.
  • It is always better to ask for donations than to give from your own wallet.
  • Never rest until the revolution is over.
  • Always remind yourself that your actions don’t matter, for you are just one person.
  • Use your power to change the world to your own personal, subjective brand of justice.
  • If you want to make a difference, grow cynical.
  • Rise up. Resist. Give up.
  • The best way to make a difference by hiding at home.
  • Be a peacemaker: avoid conflict.
  • Resist all authority. Never work with the system.
  • The best way to make a difference is by never sleeping.
  • Check a volunteer box and you will be good.
  • The best way to change the world is by never starting.
  • Always call out privilege through blanket condemnation statements.
  • You can’t make a difference.
  • Your kids matter more than the kids of other’s.
  • The oppressed can take care of themselves. 
  • Anger changes the world.

These aren’t the only things not to say if you want your advocacy and activism to be better-received.  However, this life-hack will save you a lot of unnecessary set backs and pain as you advocate for good.

If you are unsure how to become a good advocate for social good, the Five Phases of Rising Up is a great tool to start with. It might help you be the world changer you want to be.