Peace over justice has always been my way
Choosing, preferring to stay out of the fray
Now, I see this choice was not okay
Coveting peace and avoiding conflict were only a delay
Progress toward the destination is not reaching the goal
Peace without justice does not make you whole
Working quietly can be effective but does not proclaim a stand
Your actions stealth, private your demands
Justice delayed is justice denied* – does that sound tough?
Diversity is not a solution, it’s nowhere near enough
There must be new systems, new forms
Uniting all of our voices, creating radical norms
Peace will have its time again; it will arrive as soon as it can
But the tsunami of evil is infecting everywhere and working its plan
Power will never give up its benefits, privilege is itself a demand
So, no, for me, no more head in the sand
Justice must multiply aggressively, beam as fiercely as the sun
Rise up good angels, make the demons run
When we unite unrelentingly all over our power will stun
We must seize justice now or humanity will be done
Am I afraid, of course I am, but fight I will
To get to the true peace that comes only from the real
I will fight until racist systems are all redone
Unless there is justice the victory has not been won.
On January 28, 2014, I wrote a post What Social Justice Means to Me. It bears repeating, (The original post t was prompted by a Community Leaders breakfast I attended that left me demoralized and a bit outraged.)
- Social justice is not a group of scholars studying, measuring and determining what it is.
- It’s not people declaring that they are social justice activists.
- It is not community-based organizations whose staff doesn’t reflect any of the people in the communities they serve.
- It’s not giving an annual social justice breakfast for a bunch of suits at prices that only corporations can afford.
- Social justice is not a once-a-year Martin Luther King, Jr. Breakfast nor is it a day of service in honor of his birthday. (It’s a great birthday tribute but it is not social justice.)
Social justice is action, consistent, daily action to make things accessible and just for “the people” in all of our configurations.
An example of a tiny piece of social justice is the fact that public transportation is now wheelchair accessible – it was a long time coming but has now been achieved. For years there was no access at all for people with mobility issues. (And the T is still not fully-accessible – some stations, like Symphony Hall –still aren’t accessible.)
- Social justice is a community development corporation that actually has staff members, board members, and leadership that is fully representative of the community being served, rather than being staffed by posers who get in their cars each night and leave the neighborhoods they serve far behind.
- Social justice is job creation not job elimination. (Bump the right-sizing of organizations and “streamlining and consolidating services” – this always eliminates jobs).
- Full-employment is social justice. There are certainly enough jobs that need doing. It is full-time work with good living wages and benefits.
Social justice is not a company of 100+ employees in the city of Boston only having 2-4 people of color in its employ…or not a one.
- It is scholarships so that students of all ages can further their education – be it college, technical school or other skills training.
- Social justice is the best education for all – not just the exam school students, not just the charter school students, not just the private school students. Social justice is superb public education that teaches students to think and analyze and not just ingest enough to pass the test.
- Social justice is peace – with strict gun laws, consistently enforced and mediation centers in every neighborhood.
Social justice is not jailing people for the public health problem of drug addiction or the economic health problem of making a living selling drugs when the entry-level jobs are dwindling or having to have multiple jobs to have a home.
It’s no mystery to me what social justice is. I didn’t have to do a study to come to these conclusions! I just had to live and witness the changes in lifestyle and decreased ability to provide for self that I’ve witnessed. (Growing up in St. Louis, Missouri, everybody in our family was employed no matter their level of education. Everybody, including all of the men. Only one cousin was in jail. How different that is today. When did the shift occur?)
“I don’t want nobody to give me nothing, open up the door and I’ll get it myself” Brother James Brown declared.
Social justice is open doors.
It is not a bunch of privileged academics patting themselves on their backs and making pronouncements that are so vague that you cannot figure out what was promised. It is not yet another institute named for another community leader that produces nothing tangible.
Social justice is a belly full of wholesome food – every single day.
Scholarships, free college, jobs, good schools, good not adequate housing, full- access to quality health care, peace, etc., that’s social justice . Social justice is the foundation on which productive lives, sound families and strong communities are built.
Another post on this theme:
“Justice too long delayed is justice denied.” Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. Letter from a Birmingham Jail, April 1963
“Justice delayed is justice denied.” (Said in 1868 by William E. Gladstone, British Prime Minister)