Reflections on Engaging in Social Action against Social Injustice, While Developing a Survey to Study It: Restorative Social Justice as a Lived Experience
Keywords:Social Justice, Human Rights
Engaging in social justice research is a dynamic process as the elimination of oppression and inequality in society is a constant struggle. This reflection paper focuses on the development of a yearlong social justice and social action project informed by police brutality cases such as those involving Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin. This paper provided two sets of reflections on this social justice research project: the reflections of the facilitator of the project; and the reflections of the team involved in the process. The project began in January of 2015 with the team identifying concepts and measures related to social justice and using those concepts to design and launch a study that focused on social workers’ engagement in social action. The death of Freddie Gray on April 12, 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland transformed this project from a social justice research project to a social action initiative. After the death of Freddie Gray, some of us were engaged in peaceful protests, volunteering to clean up communities affected by the protest activities, or providing crisis support to the children and families in the community. Within the community, the language used to describe this social action process shifted from calling it a riot and a protest to calling it an uprising and an awakening. Our reflections reinforced the idea that social justice research, under the right context, can provide a forum for what Paulo Friere called Praxis- reflective action. We expect that the research activities that will emanate from this social action initiative will further invigorate similar social justice research projects in communities around the country and around the world.
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