Building an Authentic Community of Practice


[2] Justice for All, Where?

I want to admit that I don’t really have a formal understanding of social justice or any casual definition of it I can offer that would satisfy me. I feel I am only just beginning to learn and even then what I learn this semester will evolve as I go further along in life. But to start, I do agree with bell hooks in her quote from “All About Love” which we discussed in class. When it comes to the part that said men typically write about love “through what they imagine is possible rather than what they concretely know,” the operating word that stood out to me was “they” because it made me question: who is they? In other words, who is doing the imagining and how is “their” thinking limited? I agree with Angela that it’s a problem that the main theorizers on social justice we champion are people who have experienced the least injustice historically. Even with perhaps good intentions, like trying to see past one point of view in order to imagine a better society as a whole through John Rawls’ “veil of ignorance,” it is still impossible for anyone to forget their own biases. They can only dream up things based on what they do know about the world, not from what they don’t.

That is why I also agree with the second part of that quote that jumped out at me being how those men base their ideas off their imaginations “rather than what they concretely know.” Because, correct—why are we theorizing about social justice through fantasy rather than just going to the social injustice in the world that we already know exists, particularly to the experts on it being the people that experience it the most, and trusting them to communicate with us what the problem is? Theorizing based off our imagination and our fantasies is like dealing with a bottleneck by bombarding the person experiencing the bottleneck with random solutions off the top of our heads instead of just sitting down with said person to listen to how they have experienced the issue. It’s much more effective to recognize the responsibility you might have for contributing to the issue (either as a project manager or a neglectful community member) and work out the issue together based on what is known. It’s hard to see any other method as more “objective” than that.

So I’m thankful that Angela offered the comparison between the primarily wealthy white men that are propped up as the main theorists on social justice even when they theorize about love through fantasy, to primarily Black feminist theorists whose ideas on social justice have been marginalized and yet are grounded in reality through their lived experiences. I, myself, as an Asian American who has been discriminated against based on my race disagree with the model minority myth. As a woman who has been used as an emotional punching bag and an object that men have projected their insecurities onto, I disagree with the idea that women should always be patient, forgiving, and “nurturing by nature” and that idea being used as an excuse to justify exploiting us for our time, energy, and labor. The range of social justice topics I care about are expanding now that I’m a human services major and an aspiring social worker, but I’m interested in all of them for the same reason: I think social justice must inherently include marginalized people. It just is not logical to claim a version of justice in the world as “justice for all” or “true justice” when you ignore the people who suffer injustices under your version of “justice.” That’s not justice at all, let alone justice for all. That’s just privilege for the few.