Being an Organizer and Being an Activist is not the Same Thing
Community Organizers are the "Brain" that Injects Strategy into the Heart of a Successful Social Movement
Orellana, Carolina Mascareño
Date Written: 2013-08-19
Publisher: The Narco News Bulletin
Year Published: 2013
Resource Type: Article
Cx Number: CX15319
There is a lot of confusion surrounding the role that organizers and activists play in social movements. Both roles have profound differences regarding their goals and the way they face problems within social movements.
Al Giordano questions the role that activists play and believes, "it is not the same to define oneself as an activist or an organizer."
"The activist is someone who defines his or her identity as being a 'rebel' and thinks he or she is super cool and such a good person because of the mere fact of being politically active. He and she like to go to marches, assemblies and participate in demonstrations," says Giordano.
For Giordano, marching, protesting and calling assemblies are only three tactics that "if they are not done within the context of, and accompanied by, other timed actions, they will accomplish nothing."
Giordano compares the work and vision of activists with those of organizers and finds key differences.
"The activist is a bit selfish, most of the time because he is doing what he does to satisfy himself. The activist doesn’t really care if these marches result in changes or not. He or she just goes to events.
"In contrast, an organizer is someone who knows that you have to win the hearts and minds of the public in order to make real changes. And you have to look for, and convince, the people who still don't agree with you or are apathetic about the issue," mentions Giordano.
He emphasizes that organizers understand that "the public is worried about getting dinner on the table, their children’s safety and everything else that there is in the reality of life for most people." That is why organizers build their strategy and plans on goals that are based on real community needs.
The journalist Al Giordano says that the difference between activists and organizers can be seen in their discipline, strategy and eventual results.
"Movements that plan and organize the base and communication – not just protests that seek media attention – are those that have tended to achieve the historical change they wanted," Giordano explains.
"Community organizers are the ones who write history," he says, "because when you study the struggles that have won and those that haven’t, the people that win have done a lot more than just attend protests."