World Day of Social Justice is bittersweet. While it allows us to come together as a community and a nation to discuss, debate and celebrate Social Justice issues, we are also reminded of how far we have yet to come. Social justice is the understanding that all persons should be equal and have the same opportunities within a society- regardless of race, gender, social class or wealth. Personally, it’s a very interesting topic for me. As I am studying Social Justice in college I really get the chance to educate myself about these important issues. Social justice is important as it is something that affects everybody at a local level, every day.
Social justice movements are a collected organisation of people that are fighting for these equal rights. Current examples of this are the Black Lives Matter Movement, which is focusing on racial inequality and in particular with the police force, in America. Another movement that is closer to home for us, is the Abortion Rights Campaign which is calling for women to be trusted with bodily autonomy and to be allowed the option of an abortion. We are currently living in a kind of ‘fourth wave’ feminist movement, with the right to abortions as a main concern.
In today’s social media frenzy, it’s very easy to quickly gain access to what’s happening in the world around us. In fact, I find that when breaking news or a big event happens you will much sooner find it blasted across twitter or Instagram than on the actual news. While it sometimes seems like an overload of different information from different sources, the essentials are there, and the varying news sources and opinions allow you not only to make up your own mind on the matter, but to gain as much information as necessary to do so.
An example of this is the Black Lives Matter movement. While there have been racial injustices and efforts to stop this throughout history, the Black Lives Matter Movement became so huge and well-known because of social media. No longer were we reading about what was happening in newspapers that could choose what they wrote.
Now, every act of violence and trauma was and could be photographed, recorded, uploaded, retweeted, shared, liked, favourited. And so, in this new era of social media, social justice in turn becomes much more obvious as we see it affect real people right on our screens in front of us. GoFundMe’s are set up and politicians are called out. Social media allows us to interact with each other in the wake of social justice crisis’.
Social justice is an everyday activity that we can all participate in. Some examples of things to do at a local level are:
- Volunteer: Volunteer with local campaigns. If you’re a college student, your Student Union will most likely run events and marches. At its most basic level, volunteering could mean spreading awareness about events, information and injustices. This could be just a simple retweet or share from a social media account.
- Avoid stereotyping: Though harder than it seems sometimes, the segregation of individuals in a society into different groups or levels is what causes these social inequalities. By allowing everyone you meet the same chance and opportunity you become part of these equal values. A common example is for companies to announce themselves as not biased when hiring people- they do not discriminate on race, gender or where you are originally from. This is an idea that should be carried out by all of us, every day.
- Fundraise: There are many local and national organisations that need help. Volunteering fairs are carried out across college campuses and many websites are dedicated to helping you help others.
- Shop ethically: Although those €6 shoes are a bargain, ask yourself where they come from and why they are so cheap. Although it may be difficult to splurge on something pricier, you can be guaranteed not only will they last longer but they will be more ethically viable.
- Educate yourself: If you are a college student, why not try out a social justice elective? You’ll spend your time hearing about important issues happening in the world around us right now. Talks and information nights take place across Ireland in many communities, so whether you are in a city or in rural Ireland, try to go and learn something new.
- Act in solidarity: Choose to connect with others online and in person. Like the hoard of celebrities associating themselves with the #MeToo Movement, you can also unite with others in times of struggle.
- Vote: No matter what your stance is, vote. Make a change and be there for your society. Your next chance to do this will be in the abortion referendum, hopefully taking place in May of this year.
Overall, Social Justice Day should be a day of celebration, where we all come together in unison, respecting and wishing the best for one another. On the other hand however, we mustn’t forget just how much there is still left to do.