Movement participation: an individual, not group decision March 29, 2018 — by Leo Cao Campaigns such as Black Lives Matter, the feminist movement and LGBTQ social movements all have many supporters who regularly hold protests to raise awareness for their cause. There are numerous social movements taking place in the world right now. Campaigns such as Black Lives Matter, the feminist movement and LGBTQ social movements all have many supporters who regularly hold protests to raise awareness for their cause. This raises the question of whether people have an obligation to be a part of a movement in which a group that matches their identity is participating in. For example, do all African American people have to join the Black Lives Matter movement? Or should all women take part in the feminist movement? The answer is no. People do not have to support a movement simply because of their skin color, gender or any other characteristics. They should support a group because they truly believe in the cause and sympathize with victims of the injustice. Regarding feminism, this does not necessarily mean all women must protest because they might not sympathize with the cause or are not in a position to protest. Furthermore, there are many men who participate in the movement because they also believe they should fight against the injustices women endure. Likewise, some African Americans do not support Black Lives Matter because they don’t consider racial issues to be a significant problem. Yet, there are many non-African Americans who support the movement because they genuinely believe the situation needs get better. In the case of the feminist movement, many women are not participants. There are many reasons for this, and they do not deserve to be unfairly blamed by feminists. For example, a woman may simply be too busy and her schedule does not allow her to seriously advocate for the cause. Another consideration is that some women may accept the status quo. Most people have grown up in a environment where gender inequality is institutionalized. Society often sends the message that women are inferior to men. There are many women who are just as immersed in that culture as men. Similarly with the Black Lives Matter movement, not every African American should feel obligated to participate in demonstrations against racial profiling and police brutality if they are not in a comfortable position to do so. Imagine a new student who is in a class with other students who are mostly against the Black Lives Matter movement. Although the student may feel strongly about police actions causing African American deaths, he or she runs the risk of being ostracized by the rest of the class if she openly advocates for Black Lives Matter. These considerations apply to all group movements, far beyond just the two aforementioned campaigns. There are many explanations for why someone would not want to be involved with a movement that their group is involved in. A more specific example of the segregation people observe when they don’t identify as a certain group is being a conservative at a liberal university like UC Berkeley. Speaking out for conservative ideas at UC Berkeley will likely attract very strong repercussions. Students and even professors sometimes go out of their way to insult conservatives. As a result, many students are afraid to voice their true opinions. When people blindly follow their group demographic out of fear, there are some consequences. Individual thinking is discouraged, so people are not inclined to question things happening at their school and even society, allowing more room for corruption. Also, by not speaking against the majority group, they are letting the situation worsen for the minority, who will continue to be dominated with the thinking of others. The bottom line is that numerous factors affect people’s opinions about an issue and it is important to respect their decisions regardless of whether or not it follows the the rest of the group’s opinion.