The Illusion of Peace Without Justice by Candelaria Silva 5

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:

Jobs that Need Doing

*Justice quote

“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)

About Candelaria Silva

Candelaria Silva-Collins is a marketing, community outreach and programming consultant; writer; and trainer/facilitator who lives in Boston, Massachusetts. She has designed and facilitated workshops on a wide variety of topics including communication, facilitation, job search skills, team building, and parenting issues. She currently coordinates the Community Membership Program of the Huntington Theatre Company. Her work as Director of ACT Roxbury was profiled in several publications, including The Creative Communities Builders Handbook. Candelaria’s children’s stories, short stories, essays and reviews have been published in local and national publications and she is an active blogger. Her publications include the booklets, Handling Rejection; Pushing through Shyness: Networking Tips when You’re Shy, Slow to Warm Up or Just don’t Feel you Belong; and Real Questions about Sex & Relationships for Teens: A Discussion Guide for Parents. She has served on the boards of Goddard College, Wheelock Family Theatre, Boston Foundation for Architecture, and Discover Roxbury. She is currently Chair, Designators of the Henderson Foundation.

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5 thoughts on “The Illusion of Peace Without Justice by Candelaria Silva

  • Helen M Credle

    The Illusion of Peace without Justice does not apply to YOU Candelaria. You did not stay out of the fray. Because of your courage conflict was NOT AVOIDED by you. Candelaria Silva you built platforms in stages on stages to bring “JUST LIKE ME” voices to be heard. You demonstrated “JUSTICE FOR ALL” by uniting voices, that created radical norms. You used our libraries, fountains of knowledge, as door openers for us to write, speak our stories. Without stories coming from the masses history would remain without a voice. You say that “justice must multiply aggressively, beaming as fiercely as the sun” … Well Candelaria here you go again remaining fiercely as the beaming sun when you tirelessly fought like a tireless warrior behind the scenes to assure that others told their stories of “Justice For All” in their own creative individual manners of form through their writing and speaking in spoken word tongues. It t’was you who silently, walked from here to there, negotiating with this one and that one to build our platforms and stages to engage. It was you who raised funds for many to speak about their “Justice for All” historic experiences. So I say unto you Candelaria continue to build platforms that show their art, fashion, and jewelry designs. Behind the creations is a message we’re all seeking “truth being told”. So Candelaria keep wearing your “Justice For All” hat over that gorgeous silver hair knowing that you have given 1000’s the “JUSTICe” they so rightfully deserve. With respect and honor to be given the opportunity to share some of your precious space. Helen Dreher Credle!