World Day of Social Justice
There are many people who would like to argue that in the US, we’re fine. Yeah, we’ve got some issues, but we’re on the up and up. They’d like to say that we don’t need social justice, or social justice warriors. So in honor of World Day of Social Justice (February 20), let’s start by talking about what social justice is. As a basic definition, its justice in terms of the distribution of wealth, opportunities, and privileges within a society. Even just examining the headlines from the past two weeks, it’s abundantly clear that we are nowhere near achieving social justice.
We can talk about how Amazon paid zero dollars in taxes last year, despite record breaking profits. We can talk about how black women are dying at three times higher rates than their white counterparts during childbirth. We can talk about how we’ve had over 1,100 youths killed since Parkland, without major action to address it from Congress. We can even talk about the parallels between Adam Levine talking off his shirt for the Super Bowl and how Janet Jackson’s career was completely derailed for 9/16ths of a second of nipple. Or we can talk about the rampant amount of wage theft, labor trafficking, and abuse that happens to domestic workers all around the world.
But for right now, I’d rather talk about the folx within the social justice movement and how they’re making a change for the better, despite all the obstacles they face.
There’s Reyna, an unyielding woman if I've ever met one. Brought to the US under the most devastating circumstances: the murder of her 16-year-old son, the kidnapping of her daughter, and fleeing politically motivated death-threats. She began her immigration journey almost 10 years ago, and since then has contracted a rare form of incurable, but treatable, blood cancer. Reyna works for two families as a domestic worker, among many cleaning gigs, because it’s the only job that gives her the flexibility of going to the hospital for treatment as often as she does, but also gives her the privilege of taking care of two beautiful girls, that she’s been caring for over 7 years now. Facing deportation and certain death in Honduras, nothing stops Reyna from advocating for the dignity and rights of immigrants and domestic workers, always ready to tell her story to highlight the injustices that women like her face every day.
There’s Andrea, a modest woman from Colombia, and a labor trafficking survivor. After suffering at the hands of her employer, she continues to suffer without her children who are still in Colombia, counting down the days until it’s a possibility again. And yet, despite her hardships. she has also been a fierce advocate for domestic workers rights in Miami, being vocal with her story, encouraging other women to come forward.
There’s also Juanita, an elderly charismatic veteran who is sure to show up at any and every community or organizational meeting to add her two cents. A veteran that’s on food stamps with a sick husband, struggling to make ends meet because Little Havana is being gentrified, and despite being a long-time tenant, her rent keeps increasing. She’ll always be the first to remind everyone sitting at the table, Miami isn’t affordable and many people are homeless because of it.
These women, like many other women around the world, are leading change in their communities, not just for themselves, but for everyone.
These women align themselves with the Miami Workers Center and our vision to end the feminization of poverty. Through the Femme Agenda, our intersectional theory of change that centers around low-income women of color, we elevate and focus our work into changing the conditions of poverty that are exacerbated by oppression, exploitation, and poverty, with special attention to members of society that are the most marginalized—low-income black and brown women. We elevate and center our work around these women, recognizing that when the most marginalized amongst us are given liberty and justice, we all win.
We have women and femmes who advocate for change for those that can’t. We are here to support them and to change the systems that oppress and exploit black and brown women. On World Day of Social Justice, I honor all the women and femmes that fight for change. The ones who have come before us and paved the way, the ones who fight unapologetically now. And the ones who are to come.