I've been learning that Colin and I are slightly different in our bedtime routines. Colin likes to power down. He goes through his getting ready rituals which, sleep experts say, prepares the brain for sleep by giving it the slow-down cue. Then, he crawls into bed, checks his phone, cuddles, falls asleep. Like most other human beings.
I, on the other hand, choose these moments where he is incapable of speaking (due to floss, a toothbrush, a facecloth, etc) to tell him every single notable thing I learned today on my most recent learning expedition. Ah, the learning expedition! A magical journey where I don't have a plan in mind, but a particular topic seizes my mind, most often a topic of social inequality or injustice, and I get lost in the internet vortex of research and opinion and discovery! Articles, blogs, youtubes, radio clips, info graphics....I eat them up as I am made aware of a new kind of social injustice that goes on in our world that I so often ignore or pass by or indulge in myself.
And Colin, so unassumingly playing Carmageddon, gets the full regurgitation. 3 minutes before bedtime.
So I may have to be a bit more sensitive about the times that I choose to "fill him in" on feminist tropes or harmful ethnic appropriations. But, the fact of the matter is, these are all things that occur so often because we aren't consciously aware of them as negative. I believe that the main way we begin to curb social injustice is by educating ourselves on what is wrong, and listening to the voices that matter about what is right.
So let me define. Social injustice? A particular social group being seen and treated as unequal to the majority of society. This inequality comes in many forms of speech and action: job prejudice, stereotypes, violence and abuse, and general ideas about their character.
All these forms of inequality are fruits of a deeper issue. Ethnocentrism, colonization, power, fear, socially constructed ideas of beauty, success, etc. They're broad topics that are like tips of the iceberg. The mass below the water is huge. Most often what we see is just what is on the surface (the stereotypes, the words we use, etc) and if we can begin to change those first, then everything below the surface will naturally begin to come up.
So what are our "tips of the icebergs" today? Oh honey, there are hundreds. I only have learnt about and explored a few, so that is what I start with, but the goal is that we become more aware instead of just going with the flow. Here is the process that I've started with...
Surface: Something we do or say that seems normal, but is a stereotype, generalization, etc. Idea: The basic reason beneath why we think it's okay. Deep issue: the ideology that that surface level item stems from and supports.
Surface: Calling your friend r-tarded when he does something dumb Idea: r-tarded is a varient of stupid, so you were calling him stupid, and you weren't even thinking about people with mental disabilities Deep issue: In government and medical documents today and as a part of our history, r-tard is a word for people with mental disabilities who are considered invalid, incomplete, and yes, stupid. By using the R word as synonymous with stupid, you are actually perpetuating the belief that people with mental disabilities are stupid, and thus unequal to people who do not have a mental disability.
Surface: Wondering "why don't they just get a job?" about a homeless person Idea: A person has no job, money, or home. Thus, the natural order of things would be to get a job, then money, then they would not be homeless. Obviously they are just lazy. Deeper issue: For hundreds of years, the government has tried to keep order and hard-work a part of our society by conveying that message that people without jobs are lazy and to be punished. This is a social construct used so that if a person is without a job, society will penalize the individual, and thus the individual will feel bad and get a job. It also tells us that a working person is a better person. This social construct rarely takes into account physical ailments, the working poor, job availability/accessibility, mental illness, etc. When we consider a person who is homeless to be lazy, we are just buying into the social construct that the working person is better as well as disregarding any of that person's physical or historical context. (Read This)
It's fun right? Actually it's painful. But it's truth. We are fighting against the voice of the majority here. We are seeking to listen to the voices of the people who we have labeled, judged, disregarded. Because don't you think they know themselves better than we do? And shouldn't they have the same right to freedom, self-determination, and respect, as we do?