Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Inclusive Social Change for Social Justice Comes in All Shapes

For many years I was constrained about who I considered to be a social change worker*. I, like many others, felt that social change workers only took the form of the first line folks, such as community organizers. So this meant people who were working for social justice through other means were not potential partners or allies, including people who worked for social justice through business were out. Today, I think across the board, there is a more sophisticated understanding of who is a social change worker. We acknowledge that there are many previously unrecognized components (e.g. advocacy, scholarship, spiritual) and levels (e.g. personal, organizational) to social change. To be effective we are required to learn about each other, to build authentic relationships with one another, to figure out how to leverage being allies, and respect each other's contributions to social change working for social justice.

I am grateful to all my colleagues and peers over the years who lovingly pushed me to cultivate a more expansive view of what working for social justice can, not should, look like. It is in this spirit that I present a video celebrating the Hitachi Foundation's work for social justice over the last 25 years. As a consultant, I have worked with the Hitachi Foundation for nine year's with two of their key programs. It was through them that I learned a lot about thinking bigger about social change for social justice.

*In my dissertation, Life-Affirming Leadership: An Inquiry into Social Justice (2008), I defined social justice worker as:
People whose work actively and intentionally seeks social justice; social justice activists, social justice change agents, and social justice organizers are examples. The term social justice worker reflects a shift in my awareness and acceptance of modern activist culture and social change work, acknowledging that social justice workers hold a variety of positions and take various approaches (advocacy, organizing, fundraising, philanthropy, etc…) towards actualizing transformation that result in social justice. Unlike the words “activist”, “organizer”, and “change agent”, the term social justice worker is less likely to be misappropriated by individuals and organizations promoting change who do not work towards social justice based in human and civil rights.

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