A Connection Below the Surface
August 7, 2014 Posted in: Insights
Social justice is a term that is increasingly being infused in so many conversations. There can be many interpretations of the term and what it means, but the best definition I’ve found was on the website of Appalachian State University’s Department of Government and Justice Studies that says social justice is simply “promoting a just society by challenging injustice and valuing diversity.”
Social justice and topics related to diversity have always been an interest of mine. As a child of immigrant parents and growing up as an African American female in this country, I’ve come to realize not only the importance of social justice, but also the great depth and breadth of social justice issues. Through various experiences, readings and conversations, I’ve learned that social justice is not just saying we should treat people fairly regardless of their race or gender, but it is much more than that and what the eye can see. Social justice is saying that people are not to be discriminated against based on sexuality, religion, political affiliations, social class, socioeconomic circumstances, or any other characteristic of background or group affiliation.
So how does this apply to my work at OS? Well, I’m glad you asked!
See, much like social justice, environmental justice may not easily present a recognizable face. We see the impacts of climate change and pollution, but sometimes it’s not as easy for us to connect emotionally with the process or the many factors that contribute to such issues. Social justice and environmental justice are also very much alike in a sense that it’s about fairness and equality. They’re both striving to help ensure that everyone has an equal opportunity at leading healthy and successful lives. More importantly, they both require understanding, collaboration and support to make progress.
What’s interesting to me is to see how many of the civil rights demonstrations and movements have evolved into environmental justice movements because of the increased awareness of the intersection of the two efforts. Check out this short video that talks about environmental justice being a human rights issues:
My main inspiration for this blog is not only to speak about a topic that I’m personally intrigued by, but also to get us all thinking about how we can combine our efforts and minds to achieve the many goals we all have. I really believe in the importance of collaboration, and if there’s a way that we can work together to achieve a common goal, then why not go for it?