Scientists Studied the Brains of Social Justice Activists, and Here's What They Found

Remember that time you chained yourself to a tree in college to prevent “the man” from cutting it down? Contrary to what you tell yourself now (something about being pulled into young activist drama?), you may have been acting rationally.

People who are more sensitive to the ideas of fairness and equity are driven by logic, not emotion, according to a recent University of Chicago study published in the Journal of Neuroscience.

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CourtneyPoole: Looking through the photos from our incredible day in Cape Town on Wednesday celebrating @desmondtutu’s 60th wedding anniversary to his lovely wife, Leah. Archbishop Tutu is a man that radiates joy, love and peace, and has dedicated his life to reconciliation. To be in his presence, to dance and laugh with him, and to toast to his commitment to his wife, who he gave all credit to for his accomplishments – was a true honor that I’ll never forget. Thank you, @shannonsedg, for such an amazing gift. You were so missed. https://instagram.com/p/4tQr14sEXe/


Happy Birthday to Lorraine Hansberry! Writer, activist, and Daughter of Bilitis, Hansberry found success as a playwright for her work A Raisin in the Sun, but died of pancreatic cancer at the tender age of 34, leaving behind an unfinished novel and several other plays.

Images above are taken from the book To Be Young, Gifted and Black: Lorraine Hansberry in Her Own Words, adapted by ex-husband Robert Nemiroff.


There are quiet a few problems I have with how people define activism. Whether it’s the usual liberal feel-good activism, or the so called “radical” groups who rely on different tactics in order to enact their activism (for example, hiding behind academic jargon, using overly colorful language that the people who are being ‘saved’ often don’t understand). Here are some of my main problems with activism/activists:

  1. The feel-good activism: This type of arm-chair activism relies on the happiness of the activist. This activist can support capitalism/uphold companies who exploit their workers as long as they promise a band-aid solution (e.g. TOMS “One for One” initiative which promises that “when you buy a pair of TOMS Shoes, you’re also helping improve the health, education and well-being of a child.” and the “One Day Without Shoes” movement for name a few). This activism, the corporations-for-the-people relies on band-aid “solutions” without challenging the structural (imperial) hierarchies this activism functions under. Moreover, the activist here engages in action such as choosing not to wear shoes for a day to show their sympathy, understanding nothing but how cheap and easy their feel-good-activism is.
  2. Western Individualism and the notion of 'empowerment’: This type of activist uses the idea of activism to push for personal empowerment and enrichment of character rather than challenging structural imbalances of power. Although individual empowerment can be political, when activism turns into, again, a feel-good gathering event they become problematic. As Lierra Keith said “activism has turned into one big group therapy session. It doesn’t matter what we accomplish—what matters is how we feel about it. The goal of the action isn’t to change the material balance of power, it’s to feel “empowered”… This rerouting of the goal from political change to inner change is the reaction of both a spoiled, self-absorbed people, and the utterly desperate, desperate to do something, anything.
  3. Power relationship between activists and those who are being represented: Often activism relies on the power imbalance between activists/the represented people – there needs to be voiceless victims for overzealous activist to engage with them and their identities. These activists are anyone from those who keep the power intact via academic jargon to the structurally-privileged who use their privileged status to 'help’ people, however,there is a need for the people these activists represent to exist in confusion/gray area. Rather than eradicating it, this type of activism relies on various imbalances of power.
  4. Activist-as-Identity: This activist treats activism as an identity – one is an "activist” and not “engaging in activism”. This type of activism relies on identity politics, on who can/is and who isn’t/cannot be an “Activist” rather than engaging in practice of it. Activism becomes a mere identity rather than a set of praxis (the process through which various theories/ideas are practiced). This activism often relies on all other types of activism mentioned above: the feel-good activism, the personal empowerment, and the use of power over others. Moreover, this type of activism “excludes those who do not speak the language of elites and thus reinforces social relations of domination. Educated elites typically claim that only they are qualified to produce theory and believe that only they can interpret not only their own but everyone else’s experiences. Moreover, educated elites often use this belief to uphold their own privilege.

Just as Edward Said wrote in Culture and Imperialism “theory is taught so as to make the student believe that he or she can become a Marxist, a feminist, an Afrocentrist, or a deconstructionist with about the same effort and commitment required in choosing items from a menu.” Activism is made into a menu in which people can choose day-long/feel-good actions to undergo. The identity as an “activist” requires no commitment, attention, or real change – being an activist becomes a mere activity.

[For more on social justice, follow me on Instagram: soulrevision , Tumblr: soulrevision , Facebook: soulrevision , Twitter: soulrevision] On this day, June 21, 1964, three Freedom Summer volunteers were murdered by the KKK & the Neshoba County Sheriffs Department in Mississippi.

During the summer of 1964, Andrew Goodman, James Chaney & Michael Schwerner (ages: 20, 21, & 24, respectively) volunteered for Freedom Summer in an effort to register members of Mississippi’s black communities to vote.

The 3 young men had set out to investigate the burning and destruction of a church, telling other volunteers to search for them if they were not back by 4pm. 

While on the road, the 3 were pulled over by Deputy Cecil Price (a member of the KKK) and arrested. 

They were jailed briefly and released that night. While on the road again, they were stopped by the KKK who shot and killed all 3 of them, and buried them beneath a 15ft earthen dam. 

The bodies of the young men were found 44 days later after an informant tipped off the FBI.  The federal government initially charged 18 men with the crime, but were only able to secure convictions for 7 of them. The charges were not for murder, but for conspiring to deprive the 3 murdered men of their civil rights. 

The 7 men found guilty of murder were sentenced to 3-10 years in prison, none of them served more than 6 years.

The FBI referred to the investigation of the 3 missing Freedom Summer volunteers as, Mississippi Burning. The movie, with the same title, was inspired by the events of that summer and the trial that followed. 

If you don’t know what Freedom Summer was, I encourage you to research it. #NeverForget #FreedomSummer


Yesterday on June 27, 2015, activist Bree Newsome made national headlines after courageously climbing a 30 foot pole to remove a Confederate flag flying outside the South Carolina statehouse. She peacefully accepted her arrest when she reached the bottom, leading to repeated calls of #FreeBree and #KeepItDown throughout the social media world. In less than 24 hours, nearly $100,000 was raised on Indiegogo to pay her bail and future legal costs.

Newsome’s actions came just ten days after nine Black churchgoers were brutally murdered in Charleston, South Carolina, causing a renewed sense of urgency in the flag’s removal. Just one day prior, in a eulogy for shooting victim Rev. Clementa Pinckney, President Barack Obama offered up his voice in support:

“Removing the flag from this state’s capital would not be an act of political correctness,” he said. “It would not an insult to the valor of Confederate soldiers. It would simply be acknowledgment that the cause for which they fought, the cause of slavery, was wrong.”

Yet when the flag continued to fly - waiting for a two-thirds majority vote from the South Carolina legislature for its removal - Newsome and fellow activists took matters into their own hands. “You come against me with hatred and oppression and violence,” she shouted from atop the pole. “I come against you in the name of God. This flag comes down today”

Keep reading


All across the world, males are advocating for gender equality in powerful and unique ways. Here are five extraordinary examples:

-Mali singer Bafing Kul, who writes anti-female genital mutilation messages into his lyrics. 

-Plastic surgeon Dr. Mohammad Jawad, who repairs facial injuries of Pakistani women survivors of acid attacks.

-Ziauddin Yousafzai, who travels the world with his daughter, Malala, to advocate for female education.

-Arunachalam Muruganantham, who prevented women living in rural India from having to endure social restrictions during menstruation by inventing a machine that makes low-cost sanitary pads.

-Reverend Timothy Njoya, a Kenyan cleric who founded Men for the Equality of Men and Women to challenge men’s perceptions of what it means to be a man in his country. 

Read more about these men via Thomson Reuters Foundation.  

“We didn’t take no shit from nobody. We had nothing to lose. You all had rights. We had nothing to lose. I’ll be the first one to step on any organization, any politician’s toes if I have to, to get the rights for my community.”

Sylvia Rivera (1951 – 2002) 

Rivera was an American bisexual transgender activist and trans woman. She was a founding member of both the Gay Liberation Front and the Gay Activists Allianceand helped found Street Transgender Action Revolutionaries (STAR), a group dedicated to helping homeless young street drag queens and trans women, with her friend Marsha P. Johnson (quoted from Wikipedia).

Artist: Angelica Becerra


Michael Brown was killed on Canfield Drive, a residential tributary off West Florissant Avenue’s main drag in Ferguson, Missouri.

The block where Officer Darren Wilson left his body for hours in the August heat is now adorned with stuffed animals, ball caps and hand-scrawled notes from children, a grim but moving tribute to a boy who died long before his time.

On a Wednesday afternoon in mid-November, families could be seen wheeling their belongings into moving trucks, their breath thick with the autumn chill.

“They’re tired,” says Tory Russell, 30, a St. Louis native and co-founder of Ferguson activist group Hands Up United. “Moving out. They don’t want to deal with it anymore.”

In the months since Brown’s shooting, this spot has become more than a memorial. It’s a home, too, but also something darker — a visual reminder of death in a community still reeling from the unrest and overwhelming attention that came with it.

News reporters still frequent the area, asking tired questions of anyone who’ll give them the time of day. It’s a heavy burden for a neighborhood few Americans had even heard of before last summer. And as the day approaches when a grand jury decides whether to indict Officer Wilson in Brown’s death, that burden weighs heaviest on one group in particular:

The area’s young people.

Malala and Kailash Satyarthi win Nobel Peace Prize

Pakistani child education activist Malala Yousafzai and Kailash Satyarthi, an Indian child rights campaigner, have jointly won the Nobel Peace Prize.

At the age of just 17, Malala is the youngest ever recipient of the prize.

The teenager was shot in the head by Taliban gunmen in October 2012 for campaigning for girls’ education. She now lives in Birmingham in the UK.

The Nobel committee praised the pair’s “struggle against the suppression of children and young people”.

Mr Satyarthi has maintained the tradition of Mahatma Gandhi and headed various forms of peaceful protests, “focusing on the grave exploitation of children for financial gain,” the committee said at the Nobel Institute in Oslo.

The 60-year-old founded Bachpan Bachao Andolan, or the Save the Childhood Movement, which campaigns for child rights and an end to human trafficking.

Keep reading on BBC

Unions And Black Lives Matter Activists Join Forces Against Scott Walker

Activists took to the streets by the thousands in Madison, Wisconsin on Wednesday with a long list of grievances — ranging from the police killing of unarmed 19-year-old Tony Robinson to the impending multi-million dollar cut to the state’s universities, which they say will “devastate Wisconsin for generations to come.”

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Shut It Down.

Have none of you been informed about Homan Square?
It is a black site in Chicago where police are illegally detaining, beating, starving, and abusing “suspects”- which includes completely innocent people they just assume are doing something wrong or are someone they are not. They are not allowing them to contact any lawyers, family, friends, no one for help. 
Another famous black site being- Guantanamo Bay. 



Born into a poor indigenous family of K'iche’ descent, activist Rigoberta Menchú is known for promoting the rights of indigenous peoples both during and after the Guatemalan Civil War. She is the subject of the controversial 1983 testimonial biography I, Rigoberta Menchú by Elizabeth Burgos, and later in 1998, she published a second installment with her own autobiography Crossing Borders.

For her work, Menchú was the recipient of a Nobel Peace Prize in 1992, as well as a Prince of Asturias Award in 1998. She became the first indigenous woman to compete for the Guatemalan presidency in 2007, and though she was defeated in the first round, that didn’t stop her from running once again in 2011.