Social Justice League of America

The 20s are all about knowledge. Just like Adam and Eve are from the tree in the garden of Eden and were endowed with the overwhelming knowledge of good and evil, college can give you the insight to know about the dynamics of the society we live in. Social justice, once you know about it, you're forever obligated to do what you can to promote it whether that be with internal work or advocacy external to yourself. There's no going back. There's no more ignorance to hide behind. You have to take responsibility for your words and actions, and if you choose not to know that even that choice is a privilege in and of itself. It should be bringing people together but "tradition" and closed-mindedness can sometimes be synonymous making the struggle for equity a little too real. Power up, this is the social justice league of America. 
Passion is a powerful thing. It's what can drive people and help move mountains but at the same time it can blind you from seeing others and their contributions. Colleges have a way of awakening students' inner-activist often giving them a voice to make change on their campus and surrounding communities. The drawback is that so many become one-issue sign toters so set on their goal that the merits of others are seemingly nonexistent. Opportunities to connect and collaborate, effectively strengthening the  efforts of multiple groups are overlooked. Demographics are untouched and messages reach a saturated audience already on board (tell me why I sound like a politician currently #foreshadowing or ...). Intersectionality is key. Everything and everyone is connected in some way. That whole six degrees of separation thing, totally valid. When we open our sees and see the whole map (Age of Empires 3 fog coming to mind) we realize there's so much more going on in the world than just what affects us or what we care about. 

Related but on the flipside of all that is the notion of taking a break. Turn it the heck off. Two reasons: you're going to be drained and get tired of what you're advocating for/talking about; other people won't want to be around you if you're a one issue speaker. It's so very necessary to unplug from it all. My generation is constantly connected to social media, blogs and codes where we can see our worldview and opinions affirmed and validated. It can be a dangerous thing. We need to be challenged so we don't become complacent in how we understand our communities and society in general. Those differences in opinion remind us that there's more than one way to think or go about conveying what we believe in. Even more so it's an admonishment to calm the heck down, stop talking, posting, texting and everything else in between for a while. You cannot be on all cylinders go on a daily basis. It's not healthy and it's thoroughly exhaustive. You need to recuperate from swashbuckling ignorance and combatting oppression. Even Wonder Woman goes to visit her mother in the Amazon, Superman plays with Krypto the Superdog, and Aquaman returns to run his Atlantian kingdom. You can't and shouldn't be a superhero all the damn time. Hell yeah you can kick ass and take names most of the time but you've got to eat, sleep, hang out and take you time. Clock the heck out (HSM 2 anyone) and just do you. Turn off the filter (but those rich kids of Instagram tho) and let it all hang out (like Chris Pratt before Guardians of the Galaxy). The world will not explode, people will not die and all hell will not break loose. It's okay. Even the social justice league of America has to break for a day of rest.

One of the many things that prevents people from being able to unclip their capes, take off their masks and kick up their feet are their visible minority identities. Some identities are so prominent that you can never let them take a backseat. Other people, especially those with dominant identities constantly remind you either directly or with their microaggressions, biases and exclusive words that you hold that identity. Some identities like race/ethnicity and sex are always visible and whether you want to or not, you're enlisted as a member of those minority groups, super social justice powers and all. You don't get a say. You just have to kick butt and take names. It's a privilege to be able to check and check out of certain conversations and spaces and to have your non-dominant identities be invisible. The concept of passing or people not knowing of your membership in an outsider group is so problematic but you have power in choosing to disclose or keep private a part of you (you shouldn't have to but that's a rant for another post). While it's great to take a load off every once in a while, it's important to remember that not everyone is able to do so for every identity they hold. Some have to fight day in and day out, and there's no rest for the weary. Even in your fortress of solitude, bat cave, or your very own Mars, the media comes in and reminds you of your outsider status so that even in your home you are still reminded. Now that is overwhelming to even try to fathom but it's reality for some (me included #POCproblems). The social justice league of America never gives up though, there's hope for the future and changes happens one person at time. You can bet your hate crime fighting ass it does.

My favorite thing about the tough conversations I've become so immersed in having is when others are open and willing to have them. Even better is when they're not even these looming ambiguous unspoken elephants in the room like a present unaddressed Kryptonite but rather are part of the natural ebb and flow of dialogue. My SESP (summer enrichment scholars program) co-workers, Cat, Enmy, Jackie and Ying have created this unreal atmosphere where that's been happening ever since we started our training process. It's been both refreshing and empowering at the same time to speak and be heard and seen as I am. What a true gift it is to be in company where I can show up as my authentic self and be completely comfortable all the time. My time with them has been some of the absolute best days of this entire year and they've been back to back. I've laughed harder, smiled bigger, and just felt more whole in general. For that I will forever be grateful to them for allowing me to be myself in every facet of who I am. I just feel like my authentic self, the one that shows up at my home and one that is better than words. It's like being part of the social justice league of America in real life. We acknowledge our biases and the faults in the things we see/hear but then talk about them candidly respecting our thoughts and values. Not a mind-blowing concept, but one I've rarely seen but to action and come to life so flawlessly. We've been getting our training done and eating some amazing food (you know how I feel about food; every superhero's got to eat). Highlights include our seamless trip to the grocery store and subsequent hardcore throwdown on Independence Day on the BBQ with me a grillmaster. That food was out of this world good and the company even better. Sam came and joined in and it just felt ... complete, ya know? You know what's weird, no matter how much I want to I just end up doing the most. I made this gigantic plate of leftovers and headed back to my apartment and had Mac come on over to get his food on. For once I was able to turn off my social justice radar, have meaningful conversation with it in mind but not get bent out of shape or cringe every time we had disagreements in opinion. He said something profound that caught me off guard and showed me some of his humanity. On the concept of allyship that he doesn't think about doing the right thing, he just does it because it's what you're supposed to do. That in and of itself is interesting because the majority of the world and dominant culture don't see it that way. He has his shortcomings and biases but I'll give him some credit. If we ever talk about the underlying dynamics of an interracial friendships I'd be content. Somehow I ended up spending a good 6 hours with him. My inner introvert expect a dine and dash but honestly hanging out with him alone  (key word, one on one) has brought me some of my fondest memories this past year. The fact that I thought of him first for the food and being okay with just hanging out with him is a bold nonchalant statement. We traded off playing video games and talking about random stuff and eventually made a froyo trip (cause what else do I do but eat?). We came back and watched hilarious prank YouTube videos before parting ways. I realized I could be a social justice warrior and a normal civilian all in one.

People who let you be normal and nothing more than yourself are much appreciated especially with who people expect me to be and how I sometimes show up in certain spaces. Saturday for me was a major day of doing much of nothing. I didn't leave my room until 3:30PM after thoroughly oversleeping the day away. I went on an adventure with Sam and we ventured downtown to people watch for hours on end at Panera on Church St. It was great, just seeing people interact and go about their lives. We imagined what their stories where and why the way they were. We dropped by Rite Aid for me to get a ratchet half-assed dinner of a Lean-Cuisine, chips, and candy (don't judge me, I will actually cook when I get to stay in my apartment) before riding the bus around nearly it's full route which dropped us off at the top of my street. It was just easy. You know, being with her and just sitting, and talking. Like how often does that happen with people. For once, I was just me and that was so good. I napped later and Sam came over to read while I sat and blogged. Introverts unite over sitting on the same couch and not talking but being perfectly okay with it. The social justice league of America is off duty of the night. Up, up and away to normalizing social justice talk.

My blog post question for the day is ... what social justice issue comes up most often in conversation for you? You know me and how much I love race/racism - my favorite.

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