Flip the Script on Social Justice
Week Thirteen: Flip the Script on Social Justice
“Resistance alone is a losing strategy.” ~Zenobia Jeffries Warfield, Yes! executive editor and Sonali Kolhatkar, Yes! racial justice editor.
On the cover of Yes! magazine’s Winter edition 2022, New Social Justice, there is a drawing of a pink and purple butterfly with words on four different wings:
Resist. Reform. Rebuild. Heal.
The editors of the magazine highlight Leah Penniman’s panel discussion talk where she drew on “Grassroots Economic Organizing’s” butterfly model of transformative social justice.
(Link to Grassroots Economic Organizing website: https://geo.coop/)
The Four Wings for transformative social justice were described like this:
Resistors: the people in the blockades, the protests, the work stoppages.
Reformers: the folks trying to make change from within systems, including schoolteachers and elected officials, like those getting into the prosecutor’s office and working to get prison sentences lowered.
Builders: those who create alternative institutions such as freedom schools, farms, and health clinics.
Healers: the conflict mediators, the therapist, the preachers, the singers, the dancers, the artists – “all the folks that are going to make us well.”
Transformative social justice is not a linear process. It is a circular process of weaving in and out as a resistor, reformer, builder, and healer.
When I focus on inter-generational trauma in the family, as an example, I see how I tried to be a Reformer, changing the system from within. I went to Al-Anon and talked about alcoholism and co-dependency in the meetings and brought up the topic in my family. I read books and practiced different ways of communicating. When I felt myself emotionally and mentally dying in an abusive marriage, I became the Resistor and the Builder. Being the resistor, I threw an emotional bomb in the middle of both families by leaving my marriage, It came with a cost of shame and punishment. Slowly, I began to build a new community of support as a Reformer, Builder and Healer in my home. That healing continues today, almost forty years later. Healing takes time with layers to unpack and feel and pivot to new systems of communication. It also requires willingness…
Education system: I volunteered in the classrooms when my children were in elementary school (Reformer and Builder). As nothing changed and things got worse, in middle school, one daughter came home to homeschool, one daughter stayed in school, and my youngest daughter started kindergarten at home. (Resister, Reformer, Builder and Healer.) During the next wave, one daughter went back to public school for high school, one daughter came home for high school, one daughter continued to homeschool.
What I want to demonstrate here is that all these different approaches may be going on at the same time and only focusing on resisting and fighting will not move our world forward. All four of these parts of transformative social justice are important. Knowing which of the roles to focus on, at any given time, takes practice and listening to your intuition. There will be mistakes, missteps, opportunities to clear up the mess, and move forward.
By homeschooling, beginning in 1996, my family impacted the education system by demonstrating an alternative to the system. When I declared in my family that I was going to homeschool my kids, I became the resistor as my family and ex-husband fought me and tried to prevent me from homeschooling. In the roles of reformer and builder and healer, we learned new systems by going to homeschool conferences and finding people who wanted to try unschooling and community-based learning approaches. All three daughters completed their formal education in different ways and all three went to college and now have professional jobs.
As we begin this week of looking at flip the script on Social Justice, one of the conversations that came up in The Incubator was around fairness.
Here are a few definitions that we will unpack this week:
Fair: Impartial and just, without favoritism or discrimination.
Justice: The ethical, philosophical idea that people are to be treated impartially, fairly, properly, and reasonably by the law and by arbiters of the law, that laws are to ensure that no harm befalls another, and that, where harm is alleged, a remedial action is taken.
Justice: just behavior or treatment. A concern for justice, peace, and genuine respect for people.
Social justice: justice in terms of the distribution of wealth, opportunities, and privileges within a society.
And finally, I end today with a quote from Yes! magazine on the New Social Justice issue in the winter of 2022:
The development of the issues theme, a new social justice, was inspired by the political earthquake of 2020, when we witnessed a paradigm shift toward racial equity and transformative justice on a massive and collaborative scale unlike anything we’ve seen in recent history. Movement spaces, grassroots organizations, activists, and non-activists- particularly those in historically excluded communities- and even governments, corporations, and philanthropic spaces all responded to the needs of the people during a global pandemic in which systemic inequities were laid bare.
This is where we begin a week of exploring Flip the Script on Social Justice.
Day 85 Prompts:
- Write a story or stories about when you were the Resistor, Reformer, Builder or Healer for social justice in your family, community, and the world.
- How did the events of 2020 activate or stimulate you to take action? Examples are marching for justice, writing your views and posting them publicly, changing the structure and relationships in your family, praying.
- What ideas or stories are bubbling from reading about this topic?
- How have you already flipped the script on social justice?
To read all 100 days of Flip the Script, go to Medium: https://andreahylen.medium.com/