Most of my recent posts have been so emotional. Most of those emotions have been intensely negative. I often preach against what our current administration is doing and against the system that we have going in the US right now. That being said, I’m not against the US. I don’t hate America. I just want to fix it. What we’re trying to do here is patriotism. We have the right to protest and the right to criticize our government. Many don’t have that right. To use it is our duty. Exercising our rights makes a more progressive society and one that we can be truly proud of. We can do that through social justice work.
To most, social justice is angry yelling in the streets. Its viewed as uncivilized, unprofessional, and something the nation should be ashamed of. Social justice is, in fact, the opposite of this. Our nation should be far from ashamed of the amount of social justice work done by its citizens, because, like I said before, social justice is a civic duty. It is patriotism. As citizens of a democracy it is our right, and therefore, our responsibility to use our voices even if they are not in blind support. We must use our voices to make change. For our society to be truly progressive and actually practice the values that it preaches, the system must be challenged. Social justice is one of the most intimate expressions of freedoms that are supposed to be guaranteed.
Social justice work is a way to make that change. Yes, it often takes the form of angry yelling, but that does not invalidate the points being made. Look at it from a position of power. What is seen as angry for black men is brave for white women. What is seen as bossy in women is seen as confident in men. Rhetoric is a tool that tries to devalue those that society has not deemed valuable. The medium of “angry” protests is as much of a social justice statement as whatever the protest is addressing.
Social justice work is not always radical. Making change can come from a number of different sources. Voting is one example. By being involved in the democratic process, one can make change and put in power people who support the individual’s values. If voting is not an option to due age, citizenship status, or a form of disenfranchisement, one can still be involved with the political process as a form of social justice. One can volunteer to support candidates you agree with or canvassing in support of certain propositions or ballot measures. Holding or running for office is a form of social justice, as one can implement more progressive policy. Even serving on a jury can be social justice, as it helps to prevent systemic oppression from influencing verdicts. Any way that change is made through an official avenue is just as valid of a form of social justice as taking to the streets is.
Lifestyle choices are social justice. Veganism reduces environmental impact of many food industries. Buying local supports the local economy. Buying second hand decreases waste. The media we consume and the way we present ourselves are all political and therefore can be a form of social justice. Every choice is political which means that every choice can be one that encourages progressive change.
Something as simple as expression can be social justice work. Media representation for minorities shift perceptions of said minorities and therefore changes society in one way or another. Being vocal about experiences, like many are doing in the #metoo movement, can not only provide healing but can provide solidarity which justifies a societal change. Art can do the same. Expression has an impact and the content of that expression can constitute social justice. The evocation of emotion is an unimaginably powerful thing.
Finally, social justice is a privilege. It is something that cannot be done by many internationally without putting their well being and sometimes even their lives at risk. Even in our country, social justice is a privilege. Black people protesting are putting their lives at risk. Underprivileged people taking time off work to protest are putting their financial stability at risk. As a citizens of a democracy, it is vital that we take advantage of our privileges for those who do not have the same access to opportunities.
Social justice is a multifaceted thing. It takes so many different forms, from art to marches to candidacy to voting. When it is boiled down to its most simple form, social justice is patriotism. A democracy requires the voice of the public. It is our job to provide that voice and ensure that the voice heard is one saying things that we agree with. If we fail to do that, we may fail to have the option in the future.
Every good wish,