Let's talk about... social justice: a conference explaining the concepts of race, equality and belonging
What is social justice? What does it look like and how do we achieve it? These questions led to a recurring conference in 2022, hosted by Chantelle Fitzgerald, an inclusion and diversity consultant and coach to private and public companies. The virtual event, titled "Let's talk... Social Justice," brings together four experts in the field, Dr. Don Trahan Jr. Dr. TaLisa J. Carter, Marquise S. Hung and Rev. Dr. Edward Mulraine, who examine several concepts of social justice and their application in the modern era. The Bulletin introduces you to the three key concepts that structure this online conference, which will next be presented on July 21, 2022 via the virtual platform Eventbrite.
The Theory of Social Justice
"The technical definition of social justice is how society distributes resources. Thus, when studying this concept, all perspectives, including the perspective of race, gender, religion, and sexuality, are formed from the distribution of resources." explains Dr. TaLisa J. Carter up front. By resources, we mean various life conditions that can influence its course, such as power, money, wealth, time, education, housing situation, transportation situation and access to opportunities. According to the expert, this distribution inevitably leads to the question: should resources be provided equally or equitably? The answer from all four experts is unanimous: in the society that humans have built and continue to nurture, equity, which considers the actual opportunities and access of each person and separates resources accordingly, must take precedence. For Marquise S. Hunt, president emeritus of the youth division of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), for justice to truly exist, there must be an ideal and attainable form of justice, a concept that currently does not exist. According to Dr. Carter, this type of justice is not attainable because of human nature and political history: police forces enforce the law, not what is right.
The stories of George Floyd and Daunte Wright, two black fathers who were killed at the hands of U.S. police, are two examples of the ineffectiveness of existing policies and judicial procedures, according to the four experts. Indeed, video evidence showed that at multiple points during altercations between victims and police, the situation could have been de-escalated, Carter says. For Marquise S. Hunt, who participated in numerous protests during both events, and Rev. Dr. Mulraine, no one, including the powers that be, gives anything away for free, without secondary motives - you have to go to the scene (assemblies, city councils, protests) and demand change. Following tragic events in which justice was not served, the concepts of reparations and responsibility must become automatic, explains Dr. Carter. Acceptance of responsibility (personal, societal, police, etc.) is also essential to changing the policies of a country or government.
The final concept of the virtual conference, activation refers to what one can do to become involved, tangibly, in social justice and how to make it happen. "There are many ways to protest (violent, non-violent, via social media, via traditional media, etc.) and many things to fight for," says Marquise S. Hunt. For Dr. Carter, in-person protests remain a privilege that requires time, resources, transportation and thus, are not available to everyone. This is at the heart of the judgmental phenomenon that sometimes occurs among activists in the same group (who is doing more, who is not doing enough, etc.), she explained. Finally, the panelists offered a list of commitments to incorporate social justice into one's daily life:
● Stay informed: information leads to action, which leads to policy, which leads to better representation of all communities in various societal and governmental spheres.
● Share knowledge and literary discoveries with others (Warning! It is not the responsibility of the oppressed to educate those who are not. Find a good book or an interesting article? Send it to your friends, family and colleagues!)
● Take Action: Witnessing racist, sexist, homophobic acts or comments? Does a police arrest sound or look alarming? Keeping your own safety in mind, try to intervene. Film it. Speak out.
Photo caption: Chantelle Fitzgerald and the four experts of the Let's talk... social justice conference
Photo credit: Courtesy of Mindset Strategies