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The social justice tool kit is essential for the attempt of understanding and enacting social justice. However, what defines ‘social justice’ is a conundrum to us. With this being said, the social justice tool kit allows those who do not have a thorough understanding, to better aware themselves of the subject. Self-reflection in the tool kit is essential for enacting social justice. One cannot be good to other people, without beginning to be good to themselves. To expand, reflecting on oneself may be as simple as daily interactions with strangers, or even people you encounter every day. However, this self-reflection is vital to ensure that you are conscious of the ways in which you treat people, which may lead us to equality. Self-reflection is essential for becoming aware of your actions, and the ways in which you may contribute to an ideal.
Humour and art are important in thinking and understanding social justice. Even though social justice is a sensitive subject, we must ensure that we shed light on some of the darkest aspects. Using humour and art may make an increasing number of people more comfortable with the word’s social justice, and create a larger, open-minded society, in which will make greater change. In lecture, we watched comedians touch on social justice issues with a humoured approach. These different approaches are effective in capturing people’s attention and informing them in ways they might not even think they are learning. The short clips in lecture informed and surprised many of us, at how effective the presenters were at getting us engaged, and informing us of issues of homophobic actions, and pervasive thoughts some were not aware of.
Interest in difference and otherness can help open minds, to be more conscious of social justice. In addition, being interested in difference, can help one understand and become more accepting of the differences among people. Being interested in one’s differences may also increase empathy that people have for others and allow more room for acceptance and equality in and among our society.
Philosophy and theory are important because in order to enact social justice, we need to grasp the idea of oppression, and learn when changes need to be made. Theory allows one to think clearly and formulate thorough ideas in support of other ideas. Theory provides an outline amongst the questions we must answer and the choices we must make. In addition, theory allows us to challenge one’s own practices, and promotes an open mind to change social conditions. Theory and philosophy can be refined as new ideas emerge and promotes consciousness of current condition.
Lastly, taking a look through a historical view will help one to understand social justice. Looking back on the changes we have seen in society, will help us work together to make a more equal society. Furthermore, understanding how those changes have been formulated, may help new change break through. Lee Anne Bell states “Current debates on issues such as affirmative action or reparations, for example, cannot be fully understood without acknowledging the historical debts…”. To be able to look back on history, and make further connection and change is essential to social justice.
In conclusion, all ideas in the social justice toolkit are essential to understand and find meaning in social justice. These four tools specifically will assist one in understanding, enacting, and beginning to think about social justice. These tools will help to begin to make social justice a more comfortable conversation, in which we will begin to see change.
Oppression occurs in the intimacies of our daily lives and is defined by unjust treatment to a subject. Lee Anne Bell’s six defining features of oppression are fundamental for creating social justice. The defining features of oppression, as discussed in lecture, are imperative to understanding, and reversing the oppressed ideal. As Bell states in the first reading “… as we continually learn through practice the myriad ways oppression can alternately seduce our minds and hearts or inspire us to further learning and activism”. Bell believes we need to empathize the conditions in which others live, to act and create a just, or fair society.
Firstly, the pervasive defining feature of oppression, allows for understanding of the ways in which certain groups are oppressed in our society, with many not realizing or being conscious of this. As discussed in lecture, the creation of band aids, only being made to match the skin of Caucasians, putting a blind eye to those with different skin colour. Furthermore, we discussed the pervasive oppression amongst the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women in Canada. Amongst these ideas, another example would be the withstanding oppression amongst females. Within history, females have been viewed as the inferior person amidst our society. Throughout this time women have been more susceptive to violence, mistreatment, and various inequalities within society. As just a few of the examples show, oppression is prevalent in ways in which may not occur naturally to us. To be able to integrate a more socially just society, we need to work toward erasing oppression.
Next, the restrictive defining feature of oppression that Bell lists reflects the oppression, that some people are not provided with the same or equal opportunity as others. Restrictive oppression not only restricts self-development, yet also self-determination. As discussed in lecture, little girls may dream of becoming President or Prime Minister, but little they know that they are an oppressed group, and many will not vote a woman into power. This ideal has been around for hundreds of years, that women are inferior to men, and can simply not perform the same ways that men do. In our society, white men are the most privileged group, and most likely to reach their level of success.
With this being said, other restricted groups may include other races, sexual identity, or language. Restrictive oppression happens every day, and it delimits the imagination and the power to support one’s aspirations. To add, in our first reading by Lee Anne Bell, she states “Despite rhetoric that anyone can get ahead if they work hard enough, a father’s economic stats continues to be the best predictor of the status of his offspring…”. This is to say, restrictive oppression prevents many oppressed groups from pursuing what they desire, and holding them back from their fullest potential.
Complex, multiple, cross-cutting relationships are another defining feature of oppression according to Bell. As was discussed in class, many people may be of a less privileged group, but have overcome adversity and have made it to the top. For example, Barack Obama from African American descent, became the 44th President of the United States despite the colour of his skin. Yet this does not mean that Obama did not face racial comments amongst his leadership; yet he proved many people wrong, that you can do what you put your mind to despite the colour of your skin. In addition, people of oppressed groups face limitations and setbacks that non-oppressed groups would not have to persevere. People of oppressed groups face different limitations on the basis of their experiences, and consciousness of their being. To explain, if they achieve high education status, they may not face limitations of those who drop out. Cross-cutting social and economic standings that grant privilege or disadvantage within different context which is unique for each oppressed individual.
Lastly, Bell’s defining feature of oppression as internalized, shows that oppression not only is shown in the outside life, but is in people’s minds as well. For an example, people of which that live in poverty, believe that they did something to deserve it, rather than believe that it is the economy in which they live, that make it difficult to recover. People of these oppressed group begin to take dishonesty as the truth, and leaves people with little dignity.
To conclude, Lee Anne Bell creates these defining features of oppression, to help others achieve a better understanding of the prevalent issues and move toward a more just society. With this being said, all four defining features outlined provide others with a sense of what we are blinded to in day to day life. I believe that if people do not face these issues, they feel as if they have no power over it because it does not directly affect them. However, if we look at the feminism movement, and the more power women have than they did one hundred years ago, we can all look together, and realize that change is reasonable.
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