Now What? Life Post-Protest: Activism as a Lifestyle – L’Officiel – L’Officiel
Ryan Norville: Right now many in our generation are becoming involved in politics or social reform for the first time, but you have been working in these areas for years now. Would you be able to give us some background into how you got started in activism?
Evelynn Escobar-Thomas: “Activism” has played a seamless role in my life since I was in middle school. I remember my best friend’s mom started a little group to get us active in our community. We’d go help out at assisted living facilities and do other little things around town. Whether it was being on the youth advisory council board at high school while simultaneously acting as the president of the young democrats, to becoming the student life chairwoman in my college student government, to being an intern for the former First Lady, Michelle Obama –activism and public work has been a consistent part of my identity.
RN: I have to ask – what was it like working for Michelle Obama?
EET: It was a surreal experience for sure. I was an intern in the office of scheduling and advance so I helped with the brief materials when she would go on trips and things like that. It definitely was a huge learning experience and gave me the confidence to take on any challenge that came my way!
RN: Though you didn’t pursue a conventional career in politics directly, you’ve been extremely active in leading community-oriented programs, organizing political events and volunteering in campaign trails. What inspired you to have activism be such a large part of your life?
EET: It’s something that I naturally gravitated to and sought out. I think it stems from understanding and believing that I have the power to make a difference at an early age so I’ve tried my best to do so!
RN: You mention being active at a young age and being taught to use your voice for your community very early. Could you tell us more about what that encouragement looked like? Who did you receive it from?
EET: I’m Black and Guatemalan so I grew up learning the stories of how my grandparents came to this country and the struggles they endured back in Guatemala specifically. It really impacted me and gave me this sense of responsibility early on, that I needed to put myself in a position to do something as I got older and to always use my voice. I think it’s fundamental that young womxn in particular see themselves as these capable beings who can change the world, because that’s how I viewed myself back then and that’s how I have gotten to this point.
RN: How does it feel to see so many of your peers and people across generations coming together to advocate for societal change right now? Do you feel like this moment is truly different than past movements?
EET: Absolutely. This moment feels so special and I feel really blessed to just be a part of it. Everyone is coming together and there are so many different roles being filled. It’s really beautiful to witness it being executed in real time. The world is changing and I am grateful for the direction we are moving in.
RN: What are some practical ways you would like to see your peers advocating for change year-round? Be it climate change, racial injustice, LGBTQ causes etc.
EET: Something that all the organizers reiterate at the protests or public gatherings etc is to get involved with groups and organizations that you’re passionate about. To stay engaged beyond the here and now. There are also so many other things that can be done as well like using your platform to educate others or giving a platform to others to allow them to expand on their expertise. Even down to simply reading and learning. The options are endless.
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