Strategies for Social Justice Activism

One could argue social justice is one of the founding principles of the United States, though our values have clearly evolved quite a bit since the early days. Fighting for social justice has been happening in various forms for a long time, and it continues to this day.

Still, we have a ways to go.

When certain groups of Americans seem to be underrepresented in the political process or face discrimination, many people feel a strong desire to help. But how does one help promote social justice? There are certain strategies that have been proven to work. Bringing about greater social justice is a long process, but it starts with these strategies.

A group of people advancing social justice.
Image via ashleyamos on Pixabay.

Awareness

People who are fighting for a cause often talk about raising awareness. It has become a cliché, but it’s still an important first step toward social justice.

For example, in the early 1980s, the HIV virus emerged in the U.S. Many people whose friends and families were dying from illnesses related to HIV infection advocated for raising awareness of the virus. As awareness spread, research and treatments increased. People had a chance to protect themselves.

Social justice often begins with creating awareness of a certain issue. Some social problems seem obvious now, but they may not have always been seen this way. For example, it wasn’t until the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was enacted that barriers to voting were removed, increasing votes and voice, especially, for African Americans in Southern states. Some social problems are local, but still very problematic for example urban homelessness. Making as many people as possible understand your perspective of a problem allows you to grow the base of people who are working to solve the problem. When it comes to social justice, it takes a village, or even a whole city.

Education

Many people define social justice simply as a process of education. Education is often the dividing line between justice and allowing injustice to continue.

When people advocate for social justice, they can see that not everyone is focused on the situation they’re engaged with. As part of raising awareness of a certain issue, we must also educate people on the facts and why they matter. Because education is fundamental, colleges and universities are often ground zero for social justice activism.

Empowerment

Empowerment involves the opportunity and authority to create an enabling environment around you. In other words, empowerment enables someone to gain the authority to make a change or help create social change so they can more effectively govern themselves and their community.

Social empowerment allows individuals and groups to change discourse, institutions, and rules meant to exclude certain members or sub-groups of society. Empowerment often involves improving the skills, knowledge, and self-perception of a group in order for them to effect change.

Bryan Stevenson, executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama, famously said that, “The opposite of poverty is not wealth. In too many places, the opposite of poverty is justice.” Whatever form the fight for social justice takes, those who fight should be encouraged that they are truly the benefactors of future generations. Their actions today promise to make tomorrow’s societies richer.
To learn more about social activism and its impact on the future, visit University of San Francisco online.

Sources linked to in article:

https://www.ted.com/speakers/bryan_stevenson

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