The Practical Application of Social Justice

As the world seems to be literally falling apart around us with terrorism, climate change disasters, political inaction, and youth uprising, I count it a privilege to work in social justice philanthropy, where the fruit of my labor helps raise awareness about injustices and equips me with the knowledge and tools to be active in my community.  It eases the paralysis I often see and feel as a victim of systemic forces against humanity.

Exposure to resources like The Opportunity Agenda’s new website, which provides insight into opinions on inequality and identifies approaches and audiences that will help drive lasting change, arms me with knowledge and facts. Thinkers like Eric Ward point to pivotal moments and Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl Wu Dun assure us that A Path Appears, and I am inspired to action and kept away from a sense of hopelessness.

There are a lot of people doing a lot of good in this falling-apart world.

In honor of World Day of Social Justice on February 20, I salute the warriors in the battle against injustice across the globe: the movement builders like Occupy Wall Street and BlackLivesMatter; the many nonprofit organizations toiling behind the scenes like the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and the Southern Poverty Law Center; and the individuals doing their part to hold up a protest sign or make life a little easier for a stranger.

I’d also like to take this opportunity to salute the countless program officers, grant making, and operations staff whose efforts seek to make a difference for the most marginalized among us. Without their vision, processes, and practicalities, we would hear fewer voices reminding us that we all matter, in the grand scheme. All of our work matters. There are many ways to apply  social justice, and we are each playing a critical role.

I, for one, am proud and privileged to do this work.

Susan Hairston

Susan Hairston is Director, Office of Program Services, at the Ford Foundation. Follow her on Twitter @HairstonSusan.