Activism and Unity: A Conversation with Djibril Diakite
Image by @kennyrodz.
Activism has long been a part of American history. From the Civil Rights Movement to the Stonewall Riots, protest has long been woven into the fabric of American culture. In response to the current police brutality issue sweeping the nation, activism has once more been brought to the forefront.
One such peaceful activist is Djibril Diakite. Diakite is currently a student at Brooklyn College who hopes to one day become a high school science teacher. While he has always shown interest in creative projects, Diakite became particularly interested in activism and raising awareness to social issues after losing a loved one late last year. He credits reading and books from authors such as Ta-Nehisi Coates inspired him to channel his creativity and veer towards creating a more ideal society.
Following the death of George Floyd, Diakite took to the streets amongst peaceful protestors to demand change. “I knew it would be different the second i heard about George’s death, this is going to hit the world differently. We’ve never had this level of unity ever in protest history. Before, it was just black people, now it’s all people coming together”, said Diakite.
So, how does this young activist believe we can enact real change for the better? He recommends taking the following steps:
“I personally feel like protesting is not just going outside and marching. You can protest on different levels: individually, economically, politically. Advocate at home, research and promote black businesses, donating, signing petitions. Just advocate overall; social media has helped with this a lot. People didn’t know how to go about supporting the movement”, said Diakite.
Diakite is a firm believer in education to empower oneself. Instead of merely depending on social media, which often only shows one reality, engage young people by encouraging them to read different viewpoints and having conversations with those around them.
He is especially a proponent of teaching young students about the importance of financial literacy. “Educate the youth that they may not learn in schools, writing an agenda for what we don’t learn in schools. The systematic setup of how colored folks. Financial literacy, that kind of information we don’t really learn in schools, I didn’t know how to vote. Especially amongst black communities”, said Diakite.
Stay focused and positive
Diakite encourages those who may feel hopeless to look at the positive aspects of protest. For example, in New York State, Civil Rights Law Section 50-A was recently repealed after protestors raised awareness about the issue. This law previously held the personnel records of officers private.
Said Diakite: “[The] reason we are seeing more negativity is because the protests are exposing the negativity, now we see it more and more. For the people feeling hopeless, understand this is the first time we have full worldwide unity. Look at all the change we’ve had within the last 2-3 weeks”.
What comes next for the young activist? He hopes to continue to educate and empower the youth through his future career and continued activism. By remaining hopeful and continuing to promote a peaceful, positive message, Diakite believes current protests can enable real, effective change for the better.
If you would like to learn more about Djibril Diakite, you may visit his Instagram page here.