Activism Experiences: An Intergenerational Conversation

Faders on an audio board turned up and the "on" button is lit up.

"Activism is a community project."

In June 2023, 93.3 CFMU’s Community Outreach Coordinator Sharang Sharma sat down to have a chat. The guests? Medora Uppal, CEO for YWCA Hamilton and Samm Floren, a Masters of Social Work student at McMaster University and founder of Unsheltered, a zine featuring art from chronically unhoused women and gender-diverse people.

Inspired by the intergenerational stories shared through¬†the smallest steps, Sharang decided that hosting a conversation between a veteran activist with 25+ years experience, and an emerging activist at McMaster University would make for a compelling conversation — and indeed it did!

Over the course of thirty minutes, Sharang, Samm, and Medora held a deep and winding conversation. Together, they dove into what first brought these activists to anti-violence work and how their experiences and identities have shaped their activism. They also shared interesting insights into the “professionalization” of activism, the boundaries that professionalization presents, and the ways activists navigate these boundaries while adhering to personal activism values.

"You really have to think about what your position is and how you influence change in this [a professionalized] role with your activism..."

The conversation proved to be a rich and honest look at what different activism experiences have looked like over the years and how both women have been shaped by their experiences in the movement.

One of Samm’s mid-interview comments really resonates with the smallest steps’ message: “I think it’s always looking at history. … We learn as we go because things happen in time and things happen in spaces that we’re not there anymore, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t learn from it…I’m going to make mistakes. Folks are going to make mistakes. But we call it [in/out] and we learn from it.”

This is the absolute truth: We will make mistakes in our activism and the way to move forward is to acknowledge it, learn from it, and grow as we continue forward with our work!

This incredible interview was aired on June 9, 2023 at the very start of the episode and can be accessed through CFMU’s website or their SoundCloud account for free! Definitely check it out!