Social justice does not discriminate. Any time a person or group of people experiences a loss of rights or violence based on a perceived difference, it is injustice. It matters not what the difference is.
Tenets of social justice and society’s responsibility to promote fairness go as far back as Plato and are the basis of most of the world’s major religions. One of these religious groups, the Jesuits, first began using the term “social justice” in the 1840s. The ideals of social justice quickly expanded and resonated with people in all societies striving for parity in the economic, political and social systems in which they lived.
Over the years, a variety of different movements has taken up the cause of social justice. Women campaigned and won rights within the political system in nation after nation, and then moved on to address social and economic equality. Blacks organized for freedom from slavery and continued for decades to win the basic civil rights that whites took for granted. People with disabilities began mobilizing in the mid 1900s to battle bias and stereotypes and the physical, social and cultural barriers that kept them from fully participating in society.
Recent decades brought the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer rights movement, Cesar Chavez and the Chicano rights movement, and the Radical Age movement combating ageism. The list goes on.
One thing that connects all these movements is that the progress they make benefits all people. Social justice has never been about harming one group to benefit another. Though different, all social justice movements are connected in the attempt to work for the greater good.
Another connection between these movements is that they continue to this day. Though many gains have been made, disparity and discrimination still exist in our nation and in our world. There is still work to be done.
In the spirit of shared struggles for justice, Southwest Center for Independence is organizing Durango’s first anti-flash mob to celebrate people with differences. The differences they highlight include disabilities, gender identities, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, education level, age, political persuasion, citizenship, religion, national origin, veteran status and genetic information. There may be many, many more. If you have a difference, know and love someone with a difference or even just respect that people out there have differences, you are invited to take part in this event.
The “Same Struggle, Different Difference” inclusion event is scheduled from noon to 1 p.m. April 3 along Main Avenue. Participants will line the sidewalks (not obstructing businesses, pedestrians or traffic, please), facing traffic and stand in silent solidarity with all people who have struggled because of their difference. Examples of signs can be found at syracuseculturalworkers.com.
If you have questions or need accommodations to participate, contact Southwest Center for Independence at 259-1672 or Hanna@swilc.org.
There is power in knowing my struggle is your struggle and yours, mine. Come stand together in difference.
Tara Kiene is president/CEO of Community Connections Inc.This column has been updated to correct the date of the event on Main Avenue. It is April 3.