Defining Social Justice
After four years of volunteering, exposure to social injustice and countless stories from clients, I would define social justice as opportunity and access. As a social work major, I have been thrown onto the front lines of inequality and injustice and have seen social injustice first hand. Prior to my work on the front lines I had no clue what social justice really was. But I can confidently say now I have begun to understand what social justice is. – I define opportunity as giving every person the same chance to succeed. In Chicago there are many barriers to opportunity including poverty, neighborhoods and homelessness. Access or lack of access to opportunity starts are birth and continues all through life. Access has direct and indirect links to education, employment, safety and food. Many times being blocked from opportunity and access is a perpetual, unending cycle. – Access is an idea that stems directly from opportunity. Access can mean anything! Access to a good education, health care, food, employment, safety, family, friends, support and so much more. Like opportunity, there are many barriers to access, many of them being almost impossible to change. – Social justice and injustice are deeply rooted in society. Through my volunteer work and the months spent at my internship I have seen the injustice that youth and adults face daily. I think that many times we label people as homeless, needy or bums rather than human. Think about how many times you have said “I say this homeless beggar on the corner.” I am as guilty as the next guy on that one, but remembering that the homeless beggar is first and foremost a human can bridge a small part of the injustice. – Social justice is removing economic standing, politics, religion, race, sexual orientation, gender and everything else that separates society and remembering that we are human. It is just like my mom has been telling me for 22 years; treat others how you would want to be treated. – I truly believe that social justice is possible. I know some amazing people and programs that are actively fighting social injustice. I have been and hope to continue the fight for social justice. Sadly, I think it is going to take my lifetime and my children’s, children’s lifetime to see any real change. But with social workers, youth group leaders, community organizers and so many other the change will come!!!