Social Justice? How Do We Start? - Q Design Q Design
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Social Justice? How Do We Start?

Hey there friend!

Thanks for popping over here to read my very basic, likely very flawed, and not exhaustive start guide for engaging with social justice and dipping your toe into action for change!

So what is social justice you ask?

“Social justice is the view that everyone deserves equal economic, political and social rights and opportunities.”  That sounds like a good idea ya??? Read a more detailed explanation on this here.

There are a lot of other sources that are much more informed than I on how to go about this learning and unlearning so I’m going to do my best to be a bridge to amplify those very hard working voices here and let you in on what I’m doing in my life to start those new pathways to freedom and justice for all!

Let’s dig in!

Learn

Before I felt comfortable speaking out, I started by reading and educating myself.  A really big part of this process is just LISTENING and LEARNING which is hard for me as a privileged white woman I always want to share my knowledge and fix or minimize the damage and trauma that white supremacy wages because it feels bad to acknowledge that I have benefited and still benefit from these systems of oppression.

Long story short, my ego has had to sit down and shut up for me to really absorb and learn.  I share this because it’s uncomfortable at the start and that’s ok!  Getting used to feeling discomfort and sitting with it is the work of changing your heart and then changing the world!

You can do a lot of learning by following your local and national news and taking stock of what is happening in your community and country to BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Colour), 2SLGBTQIA+ people, women, fat people, people with disabilities and other underserved, underrepresented, untapped groups.  Just looking at the news cycle with a critical eye was a big wake-up call for me.

There are also a lot of great books to add to your bookshelf!

I started out reading the following books (in order that I read them):

White Fragility: Why it’s so hard for white people to talk about racism by Robin DiAngelo

How To Be An Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Kendi

Me and White Supremacy by Layla F. Saad

The Body Is Not An Apology by Sonya Renee Taylor

On my bookshelf now:

Unsettling The Settler Within by Paulette Regan

Stamped From The Beginning by Ibram X. Kendi

Do Better: Spiritual Activism for Fighting and Healing from White Supremacy by Rachel Ricketts

Some podcasts to try if reading isn’t you thing:

All My Relations by Matika Wilbur, Desi Small-Rodriguez & Adrienne Keene

Nice White Parents by New York Times

Good Ancestor Podcast by Layla F. Saad

Some Instagram accounts I follow for education (this is not an exhaustive list just a starting point!):

@lemmeeducateyou

@rachel.cargle

@iamrachelricketts

@letstalkpalestine

@wetsuweten_checkpoint

@tiplerteaches

@becoming_an_antiracist_ally

@pflagcanada

@yrfatfriend

@the.wellness.therapist

@shityoushouldcareabout

This is obviously just a small start on what’s available both in books and on instagram but you have to start somewhere!

Start small and take breaks.

Let the information sink in before moving on.  We’ve been raised to think a certain way to allow the systems in place to continue to oppress people and it takes time and patience to unravel our default settings.  If you feel defensive, lean into that.  Maybe explore a concept and take a walk.  If you start feeling disengaged or like it’s too much all at once (like I do from time to time) step back and do something fun while also recognizing the privilege of being able to do so.  This work is not going to be done overnight, it’s a lifelong journey and we will always be working away at this and that’s ok!

Unlearn

Reading, listening and following along is a great start and an active way to dig in but what about unlearning all of the default settings of capitalism, white supremacy, colonialism, and on and on???  This part is trickier.  I’ve found in my own experience that I take in the facts, the statistics, the examples of how white supremacy and oppression exists in our systems, in our schools, workplaces, all levels of government but how do we deprogram our brain to see it when we encounter it head-on, process it and then change it and forge a different way?

Unlearning the things we have ingrained is HARD but WORTH IT.  You can’t be embarking on this work because you want your cookies or you want to save people or you want a pat on the back.  You have to want EVERY body to be free with no ego involved.  We can’t be free until we are ALL free but how do we get there?  I don’t have that answer but I’m listening intently to those that are doing this work tirelessly and using my privilege when and where I can to amplify this work.

Unlearning is hard work and I’ve found as I take in the education part of it I have to ground myself in my own self to keep going.  I think of this as finding your own centre so you can spread your own radical self-acceptance to every other body in your community.  Personally, I’ve found moving my body to be a good vehicle for this unlearning, finding your centre process.  It’s a great way for me to get really quiet and integrate the learning and unravel and replace those ideas that I was raised thinking were truths.  These oppressive systems discourage actual connection to ourselves, so moving and connecting with my body has brought me back to my centre, my values, and my goals of being a better ancestor and creating better ancestors in my children.

I have found moving my body so valuable in fact that I’m currently enrolled in a 200-hour movement teacher training with Goodbodyfeel to further my own healing and unlearning through movement and connecting back to my body.  It’s given me a way to sit with the discomfort and given me back huge respect and acceptance for my own body and has given me the foundation to care for and respect EVERY body. “Self-care for community care” as Robin Lacambra, the owner there says.  Because really all of this oppression and racism and prejudice comes from the message that some bodies matter more than others, it’s how our systems thrive, this push and pull and take, take, take so it’s important to find and make time for connecting back to your true, empathetic, kind, gushy accepting centre.

Maybe for you, it’s by painting, doing pottery, forest bathing, swimming, canoeing, embroidery, ax throwing, or gardening?  Like one of my mentors Phoebe Taylor says “I don’t know your life!” but I do know that in order to do this work, to sustain this unlearning, to find love and work for change for EVERY body we have to know our own life, our own heart, and we have to know our way back to our intuition and to our strength to keep going in this work.

Image and Poem Credit: Rani Bar or @raniban on Instagram

Act

Learn.  Unlearn.  Act.  So what can we DO???

You’ve done your research and you want to help so there are a couple ways to go about that:

Donate

If you are financially able to you can donate funds to organizations that are actively pursuing equality or easing the struggle of those being oppressed by our systems.  We make monthly donations to the following organizations (monthly is always better so they can budget accordingly if that’s within reach for you).

Black Heath Alliance

Indigenous Residential School Survivor Society

Pflag Canada

Safetynet Children and Youth Charities

Volunteer

If a financial donation is out of reach do some research in your community to see where you can pitch in with time and effort to forward the causes near you.  If there are protests happening, consider attending.

Share

If spending time or money is not an option for you then I highly recommend sharing posts and articles on social media to help educate your own community, friends, family, and others about your position on equity issues.  It amplifies the hard work being done by members of these communities and it allows others to see that taking a stand is ok, valued, and acceptable.  No more sitting in the wings silently wondering if it’s ok to say out loud that we want things to be different.

Stand Up

SPEAK UP when you see, hear, experience racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, fatphobia etc.  SPEAK UP for those whose voices are being silenced, abused or erased.  If you are in a position of privilege you have an obligation to call it like it is and to put your foot down that you will not tolerate hate in any form.  This part is HARD and I am guilty of not doing my best always but as I learn more I have more confidence to make my voice heard.  Often I’ve felt like I don’t know enough to speak out but as I’ve done my homework and found my centre, grounded in a deep desire for change I’m not as afraid of using my voice.  You will get there too, be patient with yourself.  You will certainly fuck this up sometimes, keep going.

Email Your Leaders

Emails are handled the same way as written letters by members of government.  They have to read and categorize them in a way that they are not required to do for social media comments or messages.  I highly recommend getting really at ease with emailing your MP or MPP as the need arises.  You can find the email address for your MP here or your MPP here.

As promised here is a form letter to use when emailing your local MPP or federal MP’s regarding equity issues.  Individual emails are valued over the same email over and over so I encourage you to use this template but write it from your heart.  You don’t have to know everything to state the case of equity!

Lifelong Work

When I started writing this I thought it would be a quick task.  I thought that it would be a quick read too HA!  Every step of this journey has surprised me and I hope I’ve given you some tools on how to start this work or to help you continue.  Everyone’s journey is unique so honour that and I wish you luck as you get into the muck to make your home, your community, your country and the world a better and safer place for EVERYbody.

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