Social Injustice And Me

The desire for fairness and justice appear to be an inborn quality of human beings and many other animals. We want benefits and punishments to be meted out fairly. When a small child is reprimanded for an action he did not do he will cry out, “That’s not fair!” Most of us will retain this sense throughout our lives.

Becoming personally aware of social injustice was an evolutionary process that took place in bits and pieces during my boyhood. The seed of this growth was my bright orange hair. In the first few years of elementary school, I was the only red-haired boy. Being singled out for merciless teasing and taunting fertilized the awareness. Furthermore, some of the most aggressive classmates (bullies) sensed my queerness years before my own realization of it. This compounded the put-downs.

“Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”–Robert Kennedy

My personal awareness of social injustice greatly expanded during the civil rights movements of the 1960s. The television news footage of demonstrators being suppressed and freedom marchers in places like Selma, Alabama struck a sensitive nerve.

I did not consciously choose sides in the on-going civil rights controversies. Advocacy in favor of social justice simply sprouted and grew. The first flowering of it occurred in early adolescence.

At a reunion, my paternal family patriarchs, the great uncles and second-cousins, were talking about the demands by blacks for civil rights. All of them were strongly against equality and voiced their opposition with aggressive language and the N-word sprinkled generously throughout the discussion.

The negative, bully-like talk struck a sensitive chord. I felt compelled to object to the bigotry. I mustered all of my courage, took a deep breath then calmly told them I disagreed. I don’t remember what I said at the time, but the patriarchs ended their discussion about blacks and changed the topic to something else.

What was most memorable about that scenario was the knowledge that I spoke my truth to power. Although the power faction was familial, objection to the family patriarchy’s opinions was a major personal event. This was the first time I had been truly assertive with adults who were not my parents.

I did not change anyone’s opinions that day, but at least they discovered that their view of minority-status people was not universally believed within the family. To this day, I’m glad I spoke out in favor of justice. I may not be a hero, but at least that instance placed me on the right side of history.

Today, I feel outrage towards the popular mass movements that propose rollbacks of civil rights. The victories in favor of social justice and equality were hard-won. To regress in favor of discrimination and harm, is a slap to the face of lady justice. I remain allied with those who favor liberty and justice for all.

The fact that the bright orange hair of my childhood started my activism brings a smile to my face.

The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes civil liberties advocate and lawyer, Clarence Darrow. “I have lived my life, and I have fought my battles, not against the weak and the poor–anybody can do that–but against power, against injustice, against oppression, and I have asked no odds from them, and I never shall.”

About swabby429

An eclectic guy who likes to observe the world around him and comment about those observations.
This entry was posted in Controversy, History, Hometown, Politics, Youth and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Social Injustice And Me

  1. GP Cox says:

    He stood for a lot of ideals and had many a follower, but I have always had trouble getting past his indiscretions. How can a man preach family values while he’s out messin’ around with other women – he put JFK to shame. How do say you’re trying to help the poor when you’re raking in the mega-bucks?

    • swabby429 says:

      True that. This underlines the point that people are not all good nor all evil. We are all flawed human beings. We can point to people like MLK or Bill Clinton, Donald Trump or any celebrity and find things to strongly dislike. One thing I look for to balance overall character is aspiration and inspiration.

  2. Alien Resort says:

    Instead of being swayed by cries of outrage from the other side, Trump supporters are hardened in their stances. The only hope seems to be in elections, or in some type of long-shot revolution from the radical left.

    • swabby429 says:

      We are in a scary place. I still place my bets on Constitutional process, even as shaky as that seems now. Radical revolutions trigger counter-revolutions. The grip of reactionary, ultra-conservative, pro-theocracy groups is disheartening. Even more upsetting is the apathy the general public has had regarding indicators of the plot to destroy the constitutional democratic republic that has been plodding mindfully forward for the past several decades. Most of the levers of power are in the hands of the plutocracy. I wish I had a formula on how to awaken America to the clear and present danger to the country.

      • Alien Resort says:

        Has it always been Russia fueling the plot?

      • swabby429 says:

        Oh no. This is a new plot twist. The conspirators used to be rabidly anti-Soviet and would never think to allow Russia to influence any aspect of America. The Russian influence began right after the dissolution of the USSR and the rise of the Russian kleptocracy. They found comfort and common ground with corporatists.

      • Alien Resort says:

        Don’t the corporatists realize that the Russians are going to come after them next?

      • swabby429 says:

        They either couldn’t care less or they plan to harvest as much money and influence as possible from the current scenario. Some of them are in cahoots with the Ruskies.

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