Sometimes, I struggle with how we view the concepts of boycotts and protests -- not just how we organize them, but how we rate the success of them. We have always protest and boycotted things. We're activists, it's what we do. However, in the midst of these events there appears to be a breakdown somewhere.
There seems to be no endgame or a path to success with these recent boycotts and protests. In fact, it feels like there are no tangible results. Yet, when challenged on what was achieved from a boycott, you will always hear the statements: "We drew attention to the issue and now they are responding," or, "Now the media's talking about this."
Okay, they are responding and talking, but what are they doing? What changes are being made and what type of shift is happening? In other words, what are the results or outcomes? One of my biggest frustrations with these statements is how complacent we've become with just drawing attention. Since when are we satisfied with just that?
Now, if the goal is just to draw attention, then I kind of get it. But as activists, I think we should be focusing on results. To me, getting everyone's attention is step one. What happens next is imperative to the success of a boycott or protest.
For example, we drew attention to Russia's anti-gay law using short-term tactics like dumping Stoli vodka and protesting sponsors of the Winter Games. These particular acts were somewhat effective, but in a matter of weeks they were dead in the water. We can't continue to think these short-term tactics are enough. We have to develop an action plan that provides steps for a bigger impact.
Yes, you can gain attention, but where do we go from that? How do we utilize that attention to create long-term results? I'm sorry, colleagues, but we can't be okay with step one, we have to think ahead and provide step two, three, and four and so on. We should never be okay with just gaining attention; we have to do more and better than that.
Our overall focus should be on creating change. Just gaining attention for the sake of doing so isn't really cutting it. And we shouldn't be so quick to claim that tactic as a winning strategy. Again, it's just the first step in on-going battle for justice and equality.