Introduction to Social Justice

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What's Social Justice Anyway?. Social Diversity EducationFocuses on appreciating social differences. No emphasis on power dynamics or differential access to resources and institutional support needed to live safe, satisfying and productive lives.. Social Justice EducationFocuses on understanding

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Introduction to Social Justice

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1. Leadership in Action Fall 2011 Introduction to Social Justice

2. What’s Social Justice Anyway? Social Diversity Education Focuses on appreciating social differences. No emphasis on power dynamics or differential access to resources and institutional support needed to live safe, satisfying and productive lives. Social Justice Education Focuses on understanding the social power dynamics and social inequality that result in some social groups having privilege status and access, whereas other groups are disadvantaged, oppressed and denied access.

3. Comfort Zone Everyone has a comfort zone When you’re in your comfort zone you feel… comfortable You don’t feel challenged. New information or awareness pushes you out of your comfort zone, or puts you on the edge. If you get too far outside of your comfort zone, you may withdraw, or resist new information. Be aware of your comfort zone, and where it’s edges lie

4. Learning Edge When you’re on the edge of your comfort zone, you’re at the best place to expand your world Expand understanding Take in new perspectives Stretch your awareness You may feel: annoyed, angry, anxious, surprised, confused, defensive These are reactions to being challenged

5. Triggers Words or phrases that stimulate an emotional response because they tap into anger or pain about oppression issues Instantaneous response to stimuli without conscious thought Often convey a stereotypical perception or acceptance of the status quo Examples If poor people just worked harder they wouldn’t be poor. Men are just biologically better leaders than women I don’t see difference, people are just people to me People of color are just blowing things out of proportion If women wear tight clothes they’re asking for it.

6. Social Identity Socially constructed categories to which people identify Examples Race Sex Gender Religion Sexual Orientation Class Ability Age

7. Social Group A group of people that share a range of physical, cultural or social characteristics within one of the social identity categories Examples Race Black, White, Latino/a, Native American, Asian, Bi racial, Multiracial Sex Male, Female, Intersex Gender Women, men, transgender Religion Jewish, Buddhist, Muslim, Christian, Hindu Sexual Orientation Heterosexual, homosexual, Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual Class Upper class, middle class, working class, poor Ability Able-bodies, disabled Age Children, young adults, adults, elderly This isn't an exhaustive list of social groups People can change social groups throughout their life (class, ability, age…)

8. Advantaged vs. Targeted Groups Within each social identity category, some people have greater access to social power and privilege based upon membership in their social group.

9. Oppression A system that maintains advantage and disadvantage based on social group memberships. It operates intentionally, and unintentionally, and on individual, institutional and societal/cultural levels Individual- Attitudes and actions that reflect prejudice against a social group. Institutional – Policies, laws, rules, norms and customs enacted by organizations and social institutions that disadvantage some social groups, and advantage others. (Examples: religion, government, media, education, health care). Societal/Cultural – social norms, roles, rituals, language, music and art that reinforce the belief that one social group is superior to another

10. Examples of oppression Town hall does not have an entrance that is accessible to people using wheelchairs. A teacher calls on boys more often than girls in class. Standards of women’s beauty are based on white norms (blonde hair, blue eyes, fair skin) A state adopts a law prohibiting the legal recognition of lesbian and gay marriage. A mother asks that her child be moved out of an African American teacher’s class. English is designated as the “official” language of the United States.

11. Manifestations of Oppression Through the “isms” Racism Sexism Gender Oppression Heterosexism Ageism Ableism Classism Religious Oppression/Antisemitism

12. Where does oppression come from? Oppression depends on socialization into a system of beliefs that mask injustice and promote dominant “commonsense” rationales for accepting social injustice as part of the normal order, the result of meritocracy, hard work or individual talent. Socialization can come from Individuals (influences of family and friends) Institutions (Influences of schools, churches, government) Society/culture (influences from media, music, language etc…)

13. Systems of oppression Vertical oppression Occurs in interactions between advantaged groups and targeted groups that maintain and reinforce oppression.

14. Systems of oppression Horizontal oppression Interactions among advantaged groups and targeted groups that can maintain and reinforce oppression Men ridicule other men who are pro-feminist A group of black teenagers harass an Asian shop owner

15. Systems of oppression Internalized oppression Members of an advantaged or targeted group adopts the dominant ideology about their own group that maintains and reinforces oppression. Members internalize social messages about their own group.

16. Privilege Unearned access to resources (social power) only readily available to some people as a result of their advantaged social group membership. Having access to health care Feeling physically safe in most places in your everyday life Sharing similar dominant cultural expectations with others in your school or workplace. protected and Being seen by others as an individual rather than stereotyped as a member of a particular social group. Having your family legally protected and sanctioned through marriage.

17. So what’s social justice? Both a process and a goal Includes a vision of society in which distribution of resources is equitable and all members are physically safe and psychologically secure. Goal- full and equal participation of all groups in a society that is mutually shaped to meet their needs.

18. Multiple Identities

19. A Mosaic of Identity

20. Who are you? For each row identify which social group you belong to, and what your social group’s status is (advantaged, targeted, border). Discussion questions Which of your social group memberships was easiest to identify? Which of your social group memberships was most difficult to identify? Which questions are raised for you about your social group membership? Which of your social group membership statuses was easiest to identify? Which of your social group membership statuses was most difficult to identify? Which questions are raised for you in trying to identify your social group membership statuses?

21. Assignment Delve more into social justice and identity Read three readings assigned by instructor. The Complexity of Identity: Who am I? Identities and Social locations: Who am I? Who are my people? The Cycle of Socialization Choose an additional reading from the list given by instructor, choose one, and craft a 1-2 page paper discussing Why you chose that particular reading Your thoughts about the concepts presented in the reading Have you ever seen/do you see this form of oppression on our campus before? If so – How? If not – why not? All readings can be found at

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