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Essays for Social Justice Day

There are many social justice issues in the world today. Gender inequality, systemic racism, and unemployment are just a few. In 2009, the UN marked the first World Day of Social Justice on February 20th. Every year since, the day is used to draw attention to social injustices and identify solutions on making the world a better, more equal place for everyone. Here are five essays that explore social justice concerns such as economic inequality, social media, activism burnout, and more:

“As Coronavirus Deepens Inequality, Inequality Worsens Its Spread” (2020)

Max Fisher and Emma Bubola

The spread of Covid-19 is changing the world and not for the better. In this piece, reporters Fisher and Bubola take a look at how this virus affects economic inequality, a major social justice issue. Not surprisingly, the pandemic is affecting areas already deeply affected by inequality. Those in the lower economic classes are more likely to get infected and die. They are also more likely to lose their income and health care. There’s a “feedback loop” between the virus and inequality. Inequality makes the virus deadlier while the virus expands the gap between the poor and the rich. These are consequences that will affect social justice issues for years to come.

This essay is from “The Interpreter” a column by reporter Max Fisher that covers ideas and context behind world events. Emma Bubola is the co-writer, with additional reporting by Makiko Inohue, Hisako Ueno, Eimi Yamamitsu, and Motoko Rich.

“Health Care is Long Overdue for a Social Justice Reckoning” (2020)

Stacey Rosen, Jennifer Mieres, and Beth Nash

This piece focuses on systemic discrimination in health care. That discrimination is multi-faceted, encompassing gender, sex, and race. The authors use heart disease as an example. While it is the leading cause of death for women, many are unaware of their risk and instead believe breast cancer is a more significant problem. Why don’t they know? Physicians often don’t talk about heart health with women and can even misdiagnose symptoms. Knowing that disparities exist is the first step to making healthcare more equitable.

Dr. Stacey Rosen is a cardiologist. She is the senior vice president of women’s health at the Katz Institute for Women’s Health at Northwell Health. Dr. Jennifer Mieres is the chief diversity and inclusion officer at Northwell Health, as well as the senior vice president for the Center for Equity of Care. Dr. Beth Nash is a research, data, and analytics consultant at the Katz Institute for Women’s Health.

“Here’s How To Recover from Activism Burnout” (2019)

Vanessa Willoughby

Social justice activism is exhausting work. In this essay, you’ll learn about “burnout,” a term that refers to a state of chronic stress. Symptoms include having trouble engaging with work, becoming more irritable and impatient, and struggling with fatigue. Everything feels futile. The work feels too challenging and progress is hard to find. Many great activists are afflicted with burnout. It can take them out of the work completely if they aren’t careful. This essay provides advice on how to recover from this state of chronic stress.

Vanessa Willougby’s work has appeared in places like The Toast, Vice, Allure, and other publications. She is the fiction editor for Brain Mill Press, an independent publisher.

“The Marriage of Social Media and Social Justice” (2019)

Devika Khandelwal

Social media was created for friendships and online dating. Today, it’s become a powerful political tool and global platform for social justice. In many places in the world, social workers, activists, and ordinary people use social media to draw attention to human rights violations. Various websites and forums offer safety and a global audience. Stories and videos go viral, mobilizing individuals and communities from all corners of the world. There is a dark side to social media, too. It’s a place where fake news, misunderstandings, and death threats thrive. While it can be difficult to fact-check stories on social media, we owe it to everyone to dig deeper and confirm as much as we can. Social justice must be built on facts, not misinformation.

Devika Khandewal works in the non-governmental field focusing on fundraising and management.

“Social Justice Must Be Complicated, Because Oppression is Never Simple” (2017)

Ijeoma Oluo

One of the common criticisms of social justice is that movements are too divided. There’s a belief that people must set aside “identity politics” and unite in the fight against a “common enemy.” In this essay on Medium, Ijeoma Oluo points out that type of criticism often comes from the most privileged people in the room. Ignoring differences and silencing specific concerns is not the way forward. Systemic oppression is complicated, so of course, solutions must be complex and multi-faceted, as well. Social justice activists must acknowledge that within movements, there are levels of discrimination and privilege, as well as different needs.

Ijeoma Oluo is the author of “So You Want To Talk About Race.” The Nigerian-American writer has also written for publications like The Guardian, Jezebel, and The Stranger. She is an editor-at-large and writer for The Establishment.