I did not really know what to expect from this class, nor was I sure I would get much out of it. Nearing the end of the semester and looking back, I would say that I got twice as much out of this class than all of my others. The material we studied challenged a lot of viewpoints on different cases of injustices, and opened my eyes to completely different perspectives that I previously categorized as "against the grain". It was very interesting for me to be in such an open and expressive learning environment--especially coming from a private Catholic school. Hearing many different voices and reading such alternative views to what I am used to helped me to challenge my own perspectives to grow in my view on injustice, and what I wish to change.
Reading about "white supremacy" heightened my awareness on so many privileges in my life that I have never questioned. It was hard for me to accept, because I realized that all that I had wasn't all fairly gained. But once we had read Peggy McIntosh's article and further discussed this issue, I was unable to forget the realization I had had. It is one thing to abstain from discrimination or judgment, but it is another to acknowledge certain privilege and the advantages/disadvantages across race. In furthering our study on Racial Justice in reading about racism and racial wealth divide I was alarmed in the fact that I was just now realizing the extent of these issues. While racial wealth division and "white supremacy" exists in thousands of ways in my everyday life, I failed to see it. And how will there be progression on these issues if so many cannot even acknowledge their existence? The topics of gender justice and marginalization were also very big topics of that required me to take large steps out of my normal realm of thinking and try and see things in a different light, in the way people who are at the other end facing the discrimination identify and view justice. The further global studies were not just explored internationally, but by connecting them to U.S. issues and history, the topics were made much more relevant and pressing to me as an individual.
Leela Fernandes wrote, "..the provision of spiritual strength to individuals deeply committed to social justice is more necessary than ever in a world racked by immense hatreds that feed on each other in endless cycles of retribution, always in the name of 'justice.' Finally, a spiritualization of social movements can provide a means with which to break from these cycles of retribution which perpetrate multiple and linked forms of oppression so that social movements continually find themselves appropriated by or circumscribed within the very structures they have tried wholeheartedly to resist." In this description, Fernandes gives the reader a look into the complexity of justice and the means of addressing it.
Justice embodies many things. It is allowing for all to be able to feel recognized and represented--and not feel embarrassed or scared to do so. It allows many different beliefs, knowledges, and practices to respectfully coexist. Justice refutes violence and discrimination and provides all an equal privilege as a human being on this Earth. My view of justice has been challenged, morphed, and reevaluated throughout the course of this class. It is hard to put into words my definition of justice, because I feel it cannot be fully addressed in a sentence or strict definition. But what I feel is most important, is the concept that justice enables any person to freely achieve affirmation- as Abby puts it- in their life.