Since justice is such a complex issue and is relative to each person it is hard for me to come up with a comprehensive definition of justice. As an African American and African Studies major I have been intrigued by broadening my horizons and stepping outside of my comfort zone with the subjects into which I divulge. Taking classes such as this one and approaching subjects that have been traditionally narrated through a white voice have begun to transform my understanding and ability to sympathize with those that did not grow up in situations similar to my own. Eurocentrism, oppression, and differences are major themes that flow through the currents of American educational systems and tend to cover narratives of people of color in our own history. Looking into the shadows of history, I can see that there are many facets that have yet to be illuminated.
Figuring out my ideal vision of justice, therefore takes on a specific task. Tolerance is a word that heavily influences my perspective of justice. But it must be tolerance fully enveloped in respect. Not just respecting differences, but respecting humanity for humanity's sake. It seems that, not only in American history but worldwide, justice needs to be synonymous with revenge. Or that because injustice and oppression have occurred against a specific group of people, those people then have a right to "get back at" the group that oppressed them. This understanding makes sense on a human level, but does not seem to uphold tolerance and respect for humankind. On the other hand, it should not be used as an excuse for the oppressors to get away with oppression, discrimination, or injustices.
Limitations are many with this simplistic ideal. Tolerance means that there is justification of specific beliefs that may be inherently oppressive. Now, this is not at all representative of justice that would be acceptable in any society. Tolerance must be an issue that in contended within society and culture without Eurocentrism, Afrocentrism, or any other -ism getting in the way. Morality seems to be a strong opponent of tolerance. Another limitation is that tolerance and respect do not seem to allow much room for repercussions regarding oppression and discrimination. Without consequences all sorts of injustices can occur and not be dealt with. The criminal justice system would essentially be obsolete.
An example of a current issue that magnifies my struggle with the complex issue at hand comes from the latest issue of The Economist (Sept. 17-23). Here is a link to the article:
The issue at hand in this article discusses the issue of free speech and/or hate speech in South Africa. There is a current similar to the American South at the turn of the 20th century in regards to racial violence. This article helps magnify the road to vengeance that many take in defense of their believed "rightness" or justice.
Defining such a concept is difficult, but I am committed to fighting against the grain and stepping up to confrontation. Finding a better way to learn justice for all worldwide should be something that all people seek.