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Social Justice Overview
Transcript of Social Justice Overview
A statement or action that causes a deep seated emotional response, often characterized by the fight or flight response
A small statement or actions that reinforces a stereotype or bias. These are often implicit and unintentional.
This website offers several examples:
The following is a good example of how to tell someone they sound racist, using the Raising the BAR technique
Raising the BAR
While it is nice to raise the BAR, sometimes we don’t. Often, we just react, attack, lash out, etc. This is the opposite of raising the BAR and it looks like this:
React- Instead of responding and thinking before we speak, we react. We just speak whatever thought first comes to us without considering the implications.
Attack- Rather then acknowledging what the other person is saying we take offense and go on the offensive. We attack, and often not just their argument or statement, but them as a person.
Breathe- After the reaction and attack we breathe, not because we need a moment to think, but because we are tired from the all the fight we just expended.
Raising the BAR- reverse
This is a technique that can be employed when one is feeling triggered, targeted or attacked. There are three simple steps:
Breathe - Take a moment to breathe before responding to the person who has triggered/offended you.
Acknowledge - Verbally acknowledge what they have said. You may repeat back to them what they have said, ask for additional examples and explanation, or simply say, “ I hear you.”
Respond - Only after both breathing and acknowledging, respond. Because you have breathed and acknowledged the other person’s stance, you are more likely to be heard in your response. Be sure to respond though, with actual information, and not simply attacks or verbal assaults. That is something else….
9. Raising the BAR
Today I don’t have to think about whether someone thinks I’m in this country illegally.
Today I don’t have to think about how much my own needs wear on those I love.
Today I don’t have to explain to my kids why nobody on TV looks like us or lives like us.
Today I don’t have to think about whether someone believes my illness is real.
A longer list of Things I don't have to think about today can be found here: http://whatever.scalzi.com/2010/10/18/things-i-dont-have-to-think-about-today/
Privilege is a word thrown around a lot in social justice conversations, but people often don't understand it.
Unearned advantages that a person has because of their identities.
Another way to think about it:
Privilege is a head start that some people get because they are in advantaged groups. The following slides have several examples of privilege.
Race: social construction used to characterize people based on phenotypical features (skin color, eye color, etc.); often associated with ethnicity.
Gender Identity: an individual’s idea or presentation of their gender. This may not match their biological sex.
Religion: set of values and beliefs to which a person subscribes
Sexuality: label used to describe a person’s mental, physical, emotional, romantic attraction to others.
Age: the number of years a person has been alive.
Class: access to social capital, including wealth, education, power, etc.
Ability: mental, physical, and emotional capacity to navigate our socially and physically constructed environment.
Nationality: a person’s natural origin- often where they were born or grew up.
Advantaged/Disadvantaged Identities: The Big Eight
The idea of in-group/out-group language is that if you are a member of a group you are granted permission to use certain words and/or phrases. However, if you are not a member of a group it is best to not use those words.
Please watch the following clip to hear additional explanations of in-group/out-group language:
Maura Cullen Clip:
4. In Group/ Out Group Language
Stubbed Toe Scenario
Jamie stubs her toe getting out of bed in the morning. Then Tiffany drops a weight on Jamie’s toe at the gym. At lunch, Chris steps on Jamie’s toe and she drops her tray. At RA class later that day Maggie accidentally walks into Jamie, stepping on her toe and Jamie starts yelling at her and calls her a lot of awful names. Maggie is surprised and either feels terrible or lashes out at Jamie, then adding another bad moment to Jamie's terrible day.
For another example, you can watch this video clip:
Modern Family Clip:
P.O.P., some examples:
ABC News Video (December 1, 2011) ‘Modern Family’ Sneak Peak: Xmas Tree Shopping. Retrieved from http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/video/modern-family-sneak-peek-christmas-tree-shopping-15064406
Bucher, R. Dr. (March 11, 2012) The R-Word: Intent v. Impact. Retrieved from http://diversityconsciousness.com/blog/?p=204
Cullen, M. (2008) 35 Dumb Things Well-Intended People Say: Surprising things we say that widen the diversity gap. New York: Morgan James Publishing.
Cullen, M. ( February 28, 2011) Episode #18: Diversity: In Group, Out Group Language. Retrieved from
Linder, C. (January 2012) Catalyst Social Justice Retreat, Estes Park, CO.
Lainid. ( January 7, 2012) Shit White Girls Say… To Black Girls: Funny and Important Social Commentary. Retrieved from http://www.blogher.com/why-sht-white-girls-sayto-black-girls-both-funny-and-important-social-commentary
The Microaggressions Project. (2010-2011) Retrieved June 14, 2012 from the Microaggressions page: http://www.microaggressions.com/
Scalzi, J. (October 18, 2010) Things I Don’t Have to Think About Today. Retrieved from http://whatever.scalzi.com/2010/10/18/things-i-dont-have-to-think-about-today/
Smooth, J. (July 21, 2008) How to Tell People They Sound Racist. Retrieved from http://www.blogher.com/frame.php?url=http://www.illdoctrine.com/2008/07/how_to_tell_people_they_sound.html
Allies are members of the Advantaged group that take action against injustice. Allies act with the belief that members of both the Advantaged and Disadvantaged groups will benefit. Being an Ally means being able to consistently challenge common practices and beliefs. Being an Ally also requires patience and good confrontation skills (see the rest of the presentation for some confrontation tips).
Being an Ally is not always easy.
“An Ally is someone people can count on not necessarily to always get it right, but someone who cares enough to hang in there when the going gets tough.”
Consistency, or equality, states that all people get the same pair of shoes.
Equity, or fairness, states that all people get the right pair of shoes for them (size, color, style, etc.).
7. Being consistent is not always fair
Men are Advantaged
Women are Disadvantaged
Middle-aged people are Advantaged
Young and older people are Disadvantaged
White people are Advantaged
People of color are Disadvantaged
Heterosexuals are Advantaged
Gay, lesbians, and bisexuals are Disadvantaged
Advantaged/Disadvantaged Identities, some typical examples:
There are a lot of words that are used interchangeably when talking about advantaged/disadvantaged identity. Here a few:
Advantaged= Dominant, Majority, Privileged
Disadvantaged= Subordinate, Minority, Under-privileged
Advantaged/Disadvantaged Identities cont.
The dynamic between Advantaged and Disadvantaged group identities can be complicated. In all reality, we have no real control over whether or not we belong to an Advantaged group or a Disadvantaged group. Whichever group you belong to will help determine your status and power in the privileged system we call life.
Advantaged groups hold more status and power than Disadvantaged groups and therefore, Advantaged groups have privilege.
Privilege can be described as, “access to resources based solely on the person’s status as a member of the Advantaged group.”
5. Advantaged and Disadvantaged Group Identities and 6. Privilege
These are attempts to excuse the impact a statement or action has had.
I didn’t mean it like that!
Don’t be so sensitive!
I’m sure that is not what he/she/ze meant.
Some people just don’t get it.
3. Explain Aways
Even well-intended statements can cause harm or offend others. We often use these statements when we are trying to let the other person know that we are a “good” person who “gets it.”
Unfortunately, we often do not know when our well-intended statements have had a negative impact.
The most important step is to take ownership over what we have said and work to understand why our impact was opposite of our intent.
Understanding that well-intended statements can have a harmful impact and that the impact of our words can be opposite of our intent will help us take ownership over the statements we choose to use.
1. Intent vs. Impact
Some skills to help you communicate.
In her book, “35 Dumb Things Well-Intended People Say,” Maura Cullen provides ten core concepts to help readers effectively communicate with others. We will discuss a few of these here and others will be covered in person.
Several of these concepts are outlined on the next couple of slides. These concepts are meant to help us understand the impact of our own words and how to utilize this understanding for more effective communication.
Dr. Maura Cullen’s
Selected Core Concepts
To give us a common language as we begin talking about social justice as a large group.
To demonstrate through examples how some well-intended thoughts can still be hurtful.
To provide us some things to think about as we work together to explore our own identities and how they interact with the world around us.
Goals of this presentation:
What is Social Justice?
Social Justice: an Introduction
Based on the work of Dr. Maura Cullen
Online Student Staff Training
University of Northern Colorado
Adapted from presentation created by Andrea Polleys & Maggie Higgins
This core concept will help us understand why some people appear to overreact.
The Pile on Principle occurs when someone hears offensive statements or experiences offensive situations repeatedly.
One situation piles on top of another which piles on top of another. This person may try to let each statement roll away without a reaction. By the fifth or sixth statement, this person is ready to snap. By the seventh statement, they explode on the person who has made that statement. Even thought their anger is aimed at all of the experiences and statements they have heard that day, they explode on us, who have said offensive statement number seven because they simply can’t hold in their anger anymore. This may appear that they have overreacted to the situation.
What we didn’t know, is that they have been experiencing offensive remarks all day.
2. Pile on Principle (P.O.P.)
“The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing.”
-Sir Edmund Burke
Bystander behavior is simply not responding to or confronting a situation of injustice. Everyone has been in a situation where they saw someone else faced with offensive language or actions and not done anything to stop it.
Sometimes, we have a harder time standing up to family friends then we do when we must confront strangers. With family and friends, there is more to lose. The biggest reason why we do not say or do anything, even though we would rather not admit it, is because we want to be liked. Everyone wants to be liked, and standing up against someone could potentially prevent them from liking you. Sometimes, it is better for your safety and the safety of others not to say or do anything.
There are many reasons why bystander behavior occurs. The challenge is figuring out how to overcome it. Remember, not doing or saying anything to stop offensive behavior is the same as being the person committing the offensive behavior.
10. Bystander Behavior
A "textbook definition" that is regularly used defines social justice as a process and a goal:
"The goal of social justice education is full and equal participation of all groups in a society that is mutually shaped to meet their needs. Social justice includes a vision of society that is equitable and all members are physically and psychologically safe and secure" (Adams, Bell and Griffin 1997).
What is Social Justice?
Things I Don't Have to Think About Today
This is a "classic" read in social justice literature. The complete text can be found here: http://www.nymbp.org/reference/WhitePrivilege.pdf
Below are a few examples of privilege:
I can walk to my car without fear of being attacked, harmed, raped
I can get a job/scholarship without people assuming it is a result of my race or ethnicity
I can swear and dress in thrift store clothes without people attributing it to my socioeconomic class
Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack
The concepts of social justice move beyond awareness and tolerance toward appreciation and action.
Social justice allows us to discuss our own identities and understand how those identities impact our day to day interactions.
Through those interactions and understanding, we develop an understanding of oppressions and move toward change.