As I am sitting in my Social Work classes taking notes on what it means to be an advocate for social justice, I have to stifle an ironic laugh.
Here I am taking notes on how to advocate for social justice when I should be out there actually fighting for it.
Every day, I wake up and see another executive order passed and it makes it that much harder to drag myself out of bed for classes.
The world needs us, but we’re here taking notes on how we can create change.
What it means to advocate for social justice cannot be understood in the classroom.
Notes are not real life and the classroom is not how the real world works either.
So when you ask me to write about what social justice looks like in my notebook, I am dreaming of throwing this notebook out the fucking window.
Social justice doesn’t have anything to do with sitting in a classroom talking about what social justice could be.
Social justice is getting out into your community and working to create change there. It is starting person to person to eventually create a cultural shift.
Social justice is showing up when the fights are not just about you or showing up for people who don’t want you to.
Fighting for social justice looks like a thousand things, but it will never start while we’re trapped in classrooms. Here we are stuck in classrooms talking about what we could be doing without doing anything at all.
So how does this add up?
How do we navigate our responsibilities as students, employees, etc. while still showing up and advocating for social justice?
Are there even enough hours in the damn day?
And am I the only one who is starting to feel burned out on both ends?
I wish that there were some answers I could find within a book or a sign from somewhere to guide me to the next step.
But there isn’t.
And time keeps turning and the executive orders keep coming and life isn’t slowing down for any of us.
So where does this leave us?
What can we do?
Although I don’t have all the answers that I’m looking for I do know what the stepping stones are for each and every one of us to begin to do our part to advocate for social justice,
- Keep showing up when support is needed. Show up for those who don’t have the privilege to.
- Be as present as possible as to what is going on in the world and what causes you can be a part of. If you can support it, do it.
- Become involved in your community: volunteer, get to know the people around you, and support those in your community. Creating change is a process and it starts person to person.
- Remember not to stretch yourself too thin. The world needs us to keep up the fight, but we cannot give all of ourselves if we are empty.
- Stay as informed as you can while staying sane. Know when you need to take a step back from the news for a day, but do not be so privileged as to fully step out of the fight because many cannot.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. “-Margaret Mead
Grace Espinoza is a junior undergraduate student at SCSU, majoring in Social Work. Grace works at the Women’s Center and the American Indian Center on campus. Grace is a straight, Mexican Portuguese/white woman with a passion for social justice, feminism, and poetry. She has been a published poet several times beginning in the seventh grade and is honored to contribute to Collective Feminism.