15 Ways to Advance Social Justice in your Community
There are moments in world history when social justice issues come to the forefront of global consciousness. This is such a time. The coronavirus pandemic has uncovered and exacerbated social inequities, especially in the United States.1 Closely related, due to its social justice component, is the expansion of Black Lives Matter into a worldwide movement. The protest sparked by the killing of George Floyd and police brutality2 grew into demonstrations against larger issues of racial inequality and systemic racism. Social justice plays a role in nearly every critical problem that we face, from the climate emergency3 and voter suppression4 to gun violence5 and the widening income gap.
Society’s collective lens is now sharply focused on the disparity of experience among different social groups. People are energized regarding crucial issues—LGBTQ legal protections, abuse of women, the rights of immigrants and indigenous peoples, racial discrimination and more. Today’s educators have a unique opportunity to advocate for their students and communities, and to demand substantive change.
Here are 15 ways that you can advance social justice, individually and through alignment with like-minded people in your community and throughout the world.
Examine your beliefs and habits.
Many of us hold onto beliefs that we learned as children, and they can influence how we engage in social justice. Positive action toward inclusion and advocacy begins at home. Becoming a strong ally in a social justice movement requires ongoing self-reflection, learning, and openness to growth.
Educate yourself about social justice issues.
Navigating how to get involved can be overwhelming. The best way to start is to familiarize yourself with social justice issues you’re passionate about and research what is being done about them. Whether it’s hunger and food insecurity, gun violence, voting rights, or another issue, you’ll gain a better understanding of an issue’s current state by learning about its history.
Discover your local organizations.
Many advocacy groups for social justice, such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), have local chapters. To build connections and get involved, seek out organizers and activist groups in your community. Meetup is a good place to locate groups near you: it’s a powerful online platform where people can find and build specialized interest groups based on their locations.
Take positive action in your own community.
You can learn about issues within your community by watching local news broadcasts, reading the newspaper, and listening to podcasts. Write letters and call your elected city and state officials regarding the issues your community faces. Find your elected officials’ contact information here.
Harness the power of social media.
Twitter, Facebook, and other social media platforms have become powerful tools for sharing messages with large audiences without leaving home. They provide resourceful ways to stay focused and organized around important causes. From joining groups to posting articles and sharing personal experiences, they can help facilitate community building, awareness, and collaboration.
Attend demonstrations and protests.
The pandemic hasn’t put a damper on large, in-person protests, but we all must take precautions to prevent spreading the virus further. Make your voice heard at social justice protests happening in virtually every major U.S. city. These events give you the chance to hone your activism and public speaking skills, which you’ll need to become a social justice leader who motivates others. If you decide to attend a demonstration, always maintain safety precautions: wear a mask at all times and keep your distance from other people.
Volunteering can take many forms, depending upon your availability. These websites, among others, can help you find volunteer opportunities that align with your interests.6
- Idealist - Browse by area of focus, language, and time availability.
- GozAround - Search by category and find matches for your abilities and schedule.
- VolunteerMatch - Search for local and virtual volunteer work by topic and by organization names.
Every cause-oriented organization will appreciate financial support. Use sites like Charity Navigator, a resource that independently rates organizations based on their financial health, accountability, and transparency to find projects that fight for issues you’re passionate about.
Get involved with politics through civic engagement.
Align yourself with candidates—in local, state, and congressional elections—whose platforms and policies will further the causes you believe in. Learning about their stances on social justice issues is an opportunity to push for equity. Consider volunteering at a phone bank, canvassing to raise awareness, or sharing on online platforms.
Make your voice heard on local radio
Many local talk radio programs ask for listeners to call in and offer their opinions on topical news stories, including social justice issues. This is a great way to join the conversation and share your thoughts with a wide audience. RadioLocator will help you find U.S. radio stations with talk-radio format in your area.
Investigate what’s happening at local colleges or universities.
Student-run organizations may already focus on issues that you value. Learn what they’re doing and get involved. You’ll be setting an excellent example for your students and colleagues.
There are now mutual funds that focus on gender diversity, global equality, and other social justice issues.7 Investopedia publishes a list of the best-performing funds that focus on companies with sustainable environmental, social, and governance practices.
Support minority-owned businesses in your community and online.
As a consumer, you have the power to affect social justice change with every dollar you spend. In light of the recent Black Lives Matter protests, many businesses have vowed to give more visibility to Black-owned companies nationwide.8 Support local businesses that advocate for change and pay close attention to smaller, minority-owned companies.
Support artists, writers, and activists who speak out against injustices.
Are your favorite musicians, authors, and other artists dedicated to social justice? By sharing their work on social platforms, you can help them gain the recognition they deserve.
Be kind, understanding, and compassionate.
These are trying times. In dealing with our own issues, we may forget that we’re all in this together. Whenever you feel stressed out around other people, consider their circumstances and what they may be dealing with. Social justice, like charity, begins at home.
Prepare to meet today’s demands at the University of Kansas.
The University of Kansas School of Education and Human Sciences is uniquely qualified to help you meet the demands of our rapidly changing, increasingly complex world. Take on challenging topics, from the classroom to the global level, in the online Curriculum and Teaching programs. Learn techniques, resources, and real-world applications for supporting students with disabilities in our Special Education programs. Enhance your leadership and academic expertise in the Educational Leadership and Policy Studies program, as you learn to support a more diverse student population while integrating new technologies.
1 Retrieved on July 1, 2020 from abcnews.go.com/Business/extreme-inequality-preexisting-condition-covid-19-widened-americas/story?id=71401975
2 Retrieved on July 1, 2020 from aljazeera.com/news/2020/06/timeline-george-floyd-protests-200610194807385.html
3 Retrieved on July 1, 2020 from ecowatch.com/environment-social-justice-2646167147.html?rebelltitem=1#rebelltitem1
4 Retrieved on July 1, 2020 from brennancenter.org/issues/ensure-every-american-can-vote/vote-suppression
5 Retrieved on July 1, 2020 from amnesty.org/en/what-we-do/arms-control/gun-violence/
6 Retrieved on July 1, 2020 from mashable.com/2014/12/10/volunteer-work-online/
7 Retrieved on July 1, 2020 from money.usnews.com/investing/slideshows/7-of-the-best-socially-responsible-funds
8 Retrieved on July 1, 2020 from refinery29.com/en-us/2020/06/9849096/find-black-owned-businesses-online-apps