Justice Is Not the Absence of Abuse

>>black woman protesterBY LEANNE SIMON

What did I do today that promoted social justice? Oof — now that’s a tough question.

I didn’t promote social injustice. Did I?

Social justice is a slippery term. We all know what it means — or we have a good idea, anyway. It gets a bit trickier when we try to think about the part we play in its manifestation — or lack thereof.

As a Peace and Conflict scholar, I find myself in constant conversation around this topic. Issues of oppression, structural racism, and the >>hereditary trauma of poverty are tough ones to tackle. But we must, because avoiding these issues hasn’t fixed anything yet. Just as peace is not simply the absence of war, justice is not merely the absence of abuse.

Today is >>World Social Justice Day, a public recognition of the ongoing struggle to promote global human dignity. In his message regarding the annual observance, >>UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said, “The World Day of Social Justice is a call for all countries to take concrete actions that give meaning to the universal values of human dignity and opportunity for all.”

To translate this international call to a local level, here are 4 E’s to promote social justice in your community:

1. Evaluate

What are you doing to promote social justice? Take stock of your personal biases. Don’t worry, we all have them. Just face it and, if you don’t like what you see, seek to transform it. Look at your behavior and ask what impact it might have on others. Where you are spending money and how do the policies and practices of the companies you patronize affect workers?

2. Educate

Fact: here in NC, >>the poverty rate is 17.5%, which is well above the national average. Women and children make up a radically disproportionate number of these statistics. For single women with children under age eighteen, >>the rate is 42.8%. Nearly half of all single mothers are living below the poverty line. Learn more about our state’s >>unemployment statistics and rates of job loss and share what you find with others.

Use World Social Justice Day as an impetus to start conversations on these topics with friends, family, and coworkers. And don’t forget to talk to the children in your life. There is no minimum age requirement for discussing inequity.

3. Embrace

Make diversity and inclusion priorities in your personal and professional life. Are you actively seeking relationships with people who look, talk, or think differently than you do? If you are in a position to make hiring or pay scale decisions, think about the impacts your decisions will have on individual employees, and your company as a whole.

4. Enact

Get behind a cause that promotes social justice on a local, national, or global scale. Push yourself to do more than just signing an online petition or liking a friend’s Facebook post. Call your local representative, write to a legislator, or attend a rally.

Do you plan to commemorate Social Justice Day? How do you make social justice a part of your daily life? Respond in comments here, or on Twitter @WomenAdvaNCeNC.

>>Leanne SimonLeanne Simon is a mother, writer, and social justice worker. She holds degrees in Child Development and Spanish from NCCU, and is currently pursuing a Masters in Peace and Conflict Studies at UNC-G.

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