SOCIAL JUSTICE In the Caribbean
Defining Social Justice • Social justice according to Reid(2007) results form equalization of social and economic opportunities for all classes of society, regardless of colour, race or creed.
…Defining social justice • Most Caribbean countries on gaining independence included a Bill of Rights in their constitution to introduce and uphold the principles of equality and social justice. • In spite of this, much still needs to be done for Caribbean countries to be rid of social injustice which results when minimum guarantees (e.g. to life, education, health care etc.) are not met.
Equality versus Equity • Equality – everyone entitled to an equal share of things, e.g. everyone is entitled to ‘free’ education up to tertiary level in Trinidad • Equity – everyone is entitled to get what he or she needs, e.g. not everyone will need to be provided with welfare cheques from the government and other forms of social assistance in order to maximise their ‘free’ educational opportunities
Terms associated with social justice • Fairness(or equity) and welfare(standard of living) • Responsibilities – the ‘social contract’ or mutual advantage • Natural rights( rights that are inalienable or without conditions; often referred to as ‘God-given’; also See UN Declaration of Human Rights
The evolution of Social justice in the Caribbean • Pre-Columbus – equality/equity(equal opportunities to accrue wealth in society • 1492-1834 – repartimiento to slavery – all extreme forms of social injustice • 1838-1917 – Indentureship (minimum wage labour with limited rights) • 1940s – Universal Adult Suffrage : right to self-determination • 1960s – Independence – bill of Rights in Constitution
What does this Bill of Rights imply for every citizen? • It affords any citizen the power to redress any infringement of his/her constitutional rights through the use of the court system • It diminishes the effect of the Westminster doctrine of the Supremacy of Parliament
…Bill of rights • The constitutionality of certain laws therefore have been repeatedly challenged in the Caribbean; among the most notable are • The death penalty • The banning of the Shouter Baptist religion (1917-1961) • The illegality of same-sex relationships
Inequality and social exclusion • Unequal distribution in wealth(access to utilities, education, social grants etc.) leads to loss of socioeconomic equalisation, increased poverty and hindered development • Social exclusion refers to the inability of the individual to participate in the basic political, economic and social aspects of society • The abovementioned can eventually lead to social instability – crime, violence and civil disobedience
Indicators of underdevelopment with breaches of social justice • Inequality affects the economy, re: poverty, unutilized human capital and resources( lack of infrastructural development), suppressed economic growth increased social spending • Social consequences – crime, loss of investor confidence, substance abuse, depreciated human rights record, anarchy • Impact on the environment – due to squatting etc.
Examples of consequences to perceived social injustice • Civil unrest of the 1930s • The Black Power Movement of the 1970s • The Cuban Revolution of the 1950s • The Arab Spring of 2010 – 2012 • The ‘Occupy Wall street’ Movement 2011-2012
On the road to social justice and development • Creating an economic environment of free trade and investing in the economy and the people(education, health, etc.) • Legislation to promote human rights and justice for all from reducing taxation to criminalizing discrimination in all forms • Social protection – insurance, pension schemes, minimum wage bills, policies to change stereotypes
Forms of ‘institutionalised’ discrimination • Racism – pigmentocracy • Sexism – unequal opportunities(glass ceiling) or unequal pay for equal work • Ageism – mandatory retirement; unequal spending on infrastructure, programs for this group • Ableism – discrimination against people with disabilities, e.g. government buildings with no lifts etc.
…institutional discrimination • Creedism – discriminating against certain religious sects in society, e.g. Rastafarians, other small sects as opposed to the perceived superiority of the Roman Catholic Church • Classism – For example allocating less resources(schools, hospitals etc.) for rural populations as opposed to urban ones(No. of Schools in Caroni vs St George)
Enablers of discrimination • Primary and secondary socialization -gender roles, values and religion, the law institution and that of formal education • Gatekeepers (employers/business owners, hierarchies of politics and religion and the legal system) • Historical patriarchal and pyramidal structures in society • The Mass Media perpetuating old stereotypes and cultivating new ones, e.g. portraying young people as naturally rebellious, insatiable and frivolous
The anachronism of Indigenous people • There are an estimated 75,000 people of Indigenous descent in the Caribbean. • Most are found in Dominica, St. Lucia, T&T and Belize • They have been largely forgotten, ignored and/or stereotyped for the past half a millennium
…Indigenous people • Some of their issues involve access to ancestral lands, preservation of culture at national level, pollution of the environment and a voice in policy making • They have been able to forge alliances(e.g., Caribbean Organization of Indigenous People and the UNCED Agenda) • In Dominica and Trinidad they have preserved reservations and festivals respectively to ensure that their culture is not completely erased.