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5 Women Who Prove Activism Takes Many Forms

From the books we read to the clothes we wear, there are many ways we can make a difference.

By Caitlin Abber

As protests continue across the country in response to the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer, many of us are wondering what we can do to make a difference and respond to racism in our own communities. Below, here are quotes from five Women of the Week to remind us that from the books we read to the way we choose to dress, activism can take many forms. 


Executive Director of the National Book Foundation

“Sometimes I pull back and think, ‘Why does the book matter?’ Books give us both information and empathy, and we need these tools to wade through the complicated world we live in. There’s so much going on—political division, environmental shifts, even just the increasing speed of the digital age. Whether it’s fiction, nonfiction, or poetry, books help us explore the past, present, and future.”

Assistant Curator at the Whitney Museum

Think of yourself as a host, not a guest. That means you should feel empowered to be where you are, and not feel like an outsider. Growing up, when we were moving a lot, my parents instilled in me this idea that wherever you are is the place you’re supposed to be. You belong there. There is no wrong place, or wrong setting. I try to carry that belonging with me in everything that I do, and it inspires a certain confidence.”

COO of Unbound

“I’ve always used clothes as a canvas to present myself to the world. That may have come from wearing a hijab as a girl, which made it obvious that I was Muslim. Now that I work in the tech space, I still love standing out. I love being known as someone who has her shit together, who knows how to lead, and isn’t afraid to. When it comes to being a woman of color, I think we’re often discouraged from recognizing the power that lies within us—not just to be effective leaders, but to be extraordinary leaders.”

Activist and Historian

“Once you figure out your sphere of influence and how to be humble, the most important thing is to pace yourself. There’s a sense of urgency, but you also have to think about how you can be useful in the long term. If you buy a plane ticket and spend a few nights in a hotel to go to a protest, consider whether that money would be better spent donated to the folks already on the ground.”

Political strategist and president of the Brooklyn NAACP

“After the 2016 election, I wrote this tweet that became kind of famous: ‘The political and organizing landscape is about to be like the gym in January.’ It’s great that more people want to be politically engaged and are enthusiastic about getting involved, but their first impulse is often to create something new, rather investing in entities that have been doing this work for a long time but are still under-resourced. When people say, ‘I want to do something! How can I get involved?’ I advise them to do a quick scan of the issues that are important to them. There is probably already an established entity working on those issues—start there. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel; you just need to learn how the levers of advocacy are already at work.”

Written By

Caitlin Abber

Caitlin Abber is the Brand Editor at M.M. LaFleur, and an award-winning writer and content creator. Over the last decade she has held senior editorial positions at MTV, Women's Health, Public Radio International, and Bustle, and has bylines at InStyle and

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