For Mary Cruz ’16, being the daughter of immigrants has always shaped her. The issue of immigration formed her activism while on campus, and she now works as an immigrant policy advocate for the California Immigrant Policy Center. While Cruz is proud of the work she does, it can be tiring. Those doing work for social change often come face to face with burnout. “There is an important need for a good mental and physical balance,” Cruz said.
Cruz joined with AJ+ media video producer Shadi Rahimi, ’02, and Sunny Angulo, legislative aide for Board of Supervisor Aaron Peskin. The three women shared the difficulties they have encountered as women and as activists. But while they discussed the current ongoing social change work they are engaged in, they also offered guidance on how to prevent fatigue from their work.
The panel was hosted by this year’s Global Women’s Rights Forum. “The Global Women’s Rights Forum was started with a more expansive vision,” said Jazlynn Pastor, a senior communications studies major and the panel moderator. The forum was centered around International Women’s Day, which was on March 8, and had three days of events, including a panel of Afro-Mexican women activists, “Dance As Change” workshop and PASJ music performance.
“The forum was created to challenge sexist, racist, heterosexist and classist values,” according to Global Women’s Rights Forum’s mission statement on their website.
While these panelists came from different professions, they all discussed how the work they do directly relates to the communities they come from. Angulo, a San Francisco native, ran for ASUSF Senate during her time at USF. She was on a ticket that included Latinx and Filipinx candidates, and they ran on a queer, person of color, social justice platform and won. Angulo said she is all about creating space for the people in her community. “I work for the people,” said Angulo.
Rahimi spoke about the representation of Iranian-Americans in the U.S. “From a very young age, I understood the power of the media,” Rahimi said. By the time she reached USF, she had seen the misrepresentation of other communities. While at USF, Rahimi help start SNAG Magazine, a publication for Native youth in Oakland. “I taught them everything I was learning in my media studies classes,” Rahimi said.
“Make sure you are the ones telling your stories,” Rahimi said.
The panelists are motivated by the work they do, but acknowledged the need to take care of themselves. “Hold yourself accountable for self-care,” Cruz said. They noted that self-care is not just taking time for yourself, but also finding those networks that feed your soul. “I try to invest in long term relationships, people that I can also support,” Angulo said. They said these networks are what allow them to find people to lean on, to pick them up and to be able to continue their work as resilient women. Angulo noted that everyone has their own tools, but it’s important to find the overlap with others to support and create change.
“If you are passionate about social justice, there is always a way to bring that into what you are doing,” Cruz said. The panelists reminded the audience that even if you are not doing work similar to them, there are always ways you can advocate for change in your work space. Rahimi pointed out that women have always been at the forefront of social change, and the panelists agreed that they don’t see that changing anytime soon.
Featured Photo: (From left) senior Jazlynn Pastor moderates discussion with Mary Cruz of CIPC, Sunny Angulo of Supervisor Peskin’s office, and Shadi Rahimi of AJ+. ALI DEFAZIO/FOGHORN