My Story: Using Empathy to Connect With the People I Meet Through My Activism

By Saniya Ghanoui —

MB continues her discussion of advocacy and her journey in activism.


MB: It’s just like, I can’t just advocate for people like me or myself, you know? Like it’s great if I believe in something, but I think that it was really when I started talking to people, you know, family, friends, you know, people I know and love about their experiences and what harmed them on a daily basis that I never really thought about that I was like okay, like this needs to be bigger than me, which is easier said than done, you know? [laughs] Like everything, like [pause] what you’re going to notice first are things that affect you, right?  

OBOS Today: Yeah. 

MB: But having those hard conversations and sitting down with people and getting to know them on a more personal level, I think is what really fuels my activism. And I think that that’s something that almost needs to be pushed a little bit more, you know? For like people who like might not consider themselves activists or might not really support social movements is like this doesn’t affect you, but [laughs] like how does it affect the people who it does impact, you know? And do you care about that, you know? And I think the answer should be yes, you know like? [laughs] It’s really, I think, fostering empathy and like I’ve always been a pretty empathetic person and I think that’s why it comes so naturally to me, but it’s [pause] not a natural thing, you know what I mean, [laughs] like it’s not easy to be an activist. 

 OBOS Today: Yeah, nobody is born to b—no kid just grows up and deci—not grows up, but like, when you ask a child what they want to be when they grow up, typically they’re not going to say activist because they’re not really aware of what’s going on in the world just yet, you know? But over time, as you, you know, as life goes on and things happen, and you beco—and you become conscious of what’s happening around you and what’s happening to you, and how to navigate the world you’re in. 

MB: Mm. 

OBOS Today: That kinda’ just, and it’s great that you’re able to find, that empathy has been something that has helped you, you know, navigate through that and, you know, help you connect with other people that you might be different from, or it have different experiences or perspectives from, which is really wonderful.