Claire: Before we begin, I would like to acknowledge that these episodes are hosted and recorded on the Stolen Lands of Ngunnawal country, Canberra. I would like to acknowledge elders past, present and emerging and I would like to acknowledge the long-standing history of activism and advocacy here and the fight and resistance against ongoing colonization. All activism and advocacy that occurs on this stolen land must center decolonization. Always in solidarity and this always was and always will be Aboriginal land. 


Welcome to The Labeller Podcast, the place where we take back the label gun and talk about the labels inside, why they're there and how we feel about them. My name is Claire, I use they/them pronouns and I am your faithful host. This season we are looking at the label of "activist". 


In this episode, we will be looking at various definitions of activists and asking a bunch of questions. So, buckle up! And let's get labelling. 


{upbeat intro music}


I'm not sure if anyone else can relate, but something that I love doing unpacking meanings of different words. You say, "one thread", I say, "six pieces of string", you know? So, when I was thinking and looking up the word "activist", here are some definitions that I found. And these are all noun definitions, to clarify. 


From Cambridge, we have, "A person who strongly believes in political or social change and takes part in activities such as public protests to try and make this happen." 

From Lexico, we have, "A person who campaigns to bring about political or social change." And from Merriam-Webster: "One who advocates or practices activism, a person who uses or supports strong actions such as public protests in support of, or opposition to one side of a controversial issue." 


Now, if you were to ask me about my personal definition of an activist. I don't know, to be honest. I guess when I think of an activist, I'm thinking of someone who is wanting to change existing systems or wanting to challenge the status quo. Then, as a side note, am I the only person who thinks of High School Musical when I say the word "status quo", like that amazing lunchroom dance number? Incredible. 


What is also interesting is when I was looking up the definition of the word activist, at the bottom of the first Google results page was a list of people that I believe Google curated, categorized as activists. 


The following people, in the order that they appear, right? Greta Thunberg, Martin Luther King Junior, Malala Yousafzai, Rosa Parks, Nelson Mandela, and Harriet Tubman. Hm... What a list, right? What an incredible group of people that Google has put together and listed under the term "activist". 


 Something that I think about a lot is besides what does it mean to be an activist, how do other people consider you to be an activist, you know what I mean? Like, what do you have to do to get on this list, right? Who do we consider as activists? 


if we do activism work, at what point do we become an activist? I also wonder what this list would've looked like last week or a month ago, or six months ago, or prior to COVID-19, who would've we considered activists then? Are they different now? 


What about before we started talking more about the Black Lives Matter movement? I wonder if the amount of activists that we consider activists would've been more or less then, I wonder if the people that Google has listed as activists also consider themselves activists. 


Now, if you could create a list of six people that Google could feature as an activist, who would you list? Who would be on your list? Would they be someone that everyone may have knowledge about? Would they be local to so-called Australia? Would they be a mix? Would they be your friends? Would they be other people? Who would be on that list? 


As for here in so-called Australia, when I was researching for this, the top few articles that came up really highlighted the eco-activism as a response to climate change that has been occurring. It took a bit of a scroll before I could find any information about the activism that has occurred by First Nations activists, which is disappointing, but not surprising. 


I had expected I suppose for more information to be available about the way that First Nations activists have been fighting for sovereignty, for their stolen land. Especially considering eco-activism, right? Where the most important voices to be listening to, when we talk about eco-activism are First Nations peoples. 


We have to be talking about decolonization when we talk about climate change or when we talk about how to treat the planet better. So it was really surprising for me not to see that information, and most importantly, to not see the link between those two places of activism. 


Again, when you look up activism, especially if you're looking up the history of activism, here in so-called Australia, what are you expecting to find, what are you hoping to find? What should be found on the first page of Google, on the first results page of Google? 


Now, there are so many more questions that I have, right? Activism and the label of an activist can feel really tricky. It can feel really odd. It can feel really easy to identify with or really hard to identify with, and that's okay. This season we'll be talking before guests. Each person having their own experiences and their own thoughts and feelings about the label of activist. 


And also their own experiences with activism in itself and we will be unpacking and talking more about this. What's really cool about The Labeller is that it's not a place of judgment, it's not a place of persuasion. It's a place of conversation. 


Next week we have our first guest and we'll be talking about what it's like to be a young person involved in activism and advocacy. How do you define an activist? Who can be an activist? When you think of activists who are here in so-called Australia, who do you think of? Can anyone be an activist? 


 I think I'll leave you with those questions for now and please let me know what you think over on our Instagram, @voicefest.thedrum where you can stay updated on future episodes. Oh, sorry, one more question before we go… Are you an activist? 


This has been The Labeller Podcast. My name is Claire. And we'll speak soon, okay? See you! 


The Labeller Podcast is supported by the Freeza Grant Program, Drummond Street Services and the Drum Youth Program. For more information, please visit