Advancing Social Justice
Everyone has beliefs; morals that underpin every action we take, and every word that we speak. Our beliefs shape us not only as a person, but as a community. In any community, whether that be as small scale as your household, or bigger like your school or town, you will find that often people’s beliefs will clash, and once in a while you’ll come across someone who refuses to listen to anyone else’s viewpoint.
My own stance on this is that whether you agree or disagree with the person you are talking to, it is always worthwhile listening to what they have to say. You will either entirely agree and be able to collaborate on your shared passion, totally disagree and have educated each other on the opposing argument, or fall somewhere in between and have developed a compromise over the common ground. Either way there is still a positive outcome, with room to grow and move forward.
Time for Change
When you feel confident with what your individual beliefs are, and have discussed them with those around you, injustices will start to become visible. You will notice gaps in systems that should be enforcing equality and hear of cases where communities have been treated unfairly. Be brave and take action to stand up for your beliefs. Whilst the action must always be peaceful, done with the best of intentions and never violent, it should be direct.
To take direct action you need to know 1) what your beliefs are, 2) what action you are taking and 3) who and how this will help. Suggestions for ways to take DIRECT (Demonstrate, Invest, Reflect, Educate, Connect, Talk) action are made below.
Whether virtually or in person, through a peaceful protest or by giving an organised speech, share the views of the group you are advocating for and explain to others how they can become an ally for the cause. Even if you don’t fancy attending a protest and don’t like the thought of public speaking, you can still create banners or posters to be used in the demonstration, write the script for the speech and ask someone else to perform it for you, or even create a song that is played to deliver your message.
Invest your time into volunteering with local charities to aid their mission towards social justice for whichever community they serve. If you are financially able to invest your money, prioritise spending it on
things such as music, art and theatre made by artists from minority communities, especially when the art itself promotes the message of social justice. Equally, if you are in a position to donate to charities that support social justice, just be sure to do your research and place your money where it will be best spent.
Complete a reflection journal to think about the beliefs you learnt as a child. These may have stemmed from teachers, religious leaders, your family or friends. Consider if your attitudes have now changed and why this might be the case. Encourage others to reflect if they make a discriminatory comment or show prejudice towards a group.
Educate yourself by having open conversations with people and gaining an understanding of what is important to them and any injustices they face as a result of a particular characteristic. Find out how you can support them and take positive action.
Connect with others going through similar experiences to you and those who are also passionate about advancing social justice. Work together to then connect with the wider community and encourage participation in the joint mission to increase equality.
Use media to your advantage and create podcasts around the issues that matter to you, arrange to appear on your local radio station, or share honest and useful information on social media platforms to widen the audience that your pledge can reach. Continuously research current issues to ensure any information you share or discuss is as factual and accurate as possible.
No matter how big or small, every action will make a difference.