Social justice requires curious people who are willing to pursue ongoing, creative solutions. In this article, three women share how they engage with social justice.
Manal Abbadi, longtime social justice advocate, says, “I am always seeking creative ways that bring together my community.” Although we get further and further away from the George Floyd murder, there will likely be no wavering in Manal’s drive toward engaging in social justice because for her, activism is a lifestyle. “Social justice is something I am extremely passionate about and dedicate a lot of my free time to,” she says. “I have always cared about social justice and find my personal passions align directly with social justice and equity.”
Manal has been actively pursuing social justice since high school, when she began speaking out about immigration equity. She continued her social justice work while in college. “I wrote an article regarding death row and mass incarceration that was published,” she shares.
Upon graduation, Manal began working at Legal Assistance of Olmsted County, where her role involved ensuring underserved communities were provided access to legal representation. Today, Manal is a go-to person when there are communities that need to be served. She has organized multiple events around social justice and equity and is a member of the Rochester Branch NAACP Executive Committee.
Courtney Horace personifies what it means to be a curious and determined social justice seeker. “I would definitely describe myself as a curious person. I’m always looking up information on the internet or asking questions to better understand the world around me,” she says. Courtney feels a sense of responsibility to learn and finds joy in obtaining knowledge. “I hear about something, and I want to learn more just because it’s fun learning new things.”
“For me, social justice has always been a topic of curiosity,” Courtney indicates. “As a young biracial woman in America, the racism and discrimination I experienced piqued my interest in social justice.” Courtney points to “a buildup of different experiences that made me want to take action, educate myself and start conversations with others around me.”
Like Courtney, Jessica Anderson enjoys engaging with social justice through learning. She says, “I truly enjoy learning about other people and their lived experiences. Getting to know people beyond their various life and work titles helps me to better understand perspectives and break down some of the natural biases I bring to conversations.” Jessica says her life’s mission is “to live with integrity, intention and a sense of adventure.”
Faith is central to Jessica’s being. She believes that “everyone is born with a unique purpose and deserves the opportunity to realize their full potential.”
All three women see the younger generation as being authentically committed to social justice; however, they do see opportunities for adults to step up. “I think if older generations would support the younger generation, we would see a huge shift in our communities and our country,” suggests Manal.
“Social media has really propelled the way the younger generation shares their beliefs, and in a way, they are more likely to speak out against social justice concerns,” suggests Courtney. She states that social media provides a platform to amplify marginalized voices which, “has opened the dialogue to diverse perspectives that will allow our country to become more equitable.”
Jessica works with the next generation every day, and she sees their social justice work expanding with efforts to eliminate racism and inequities in health. “The recent events in the past two years, from the death of George Floyd to the COVID pandemic, have impacted us all, especially the younger generation in their level of curiosity and activism,” she says.
So, what is the future for social justice? Social justice leaders will need to adapt and grow to help meet ongoing yet changing needs and issues. Collaborative learning, education and creative solutions will be needed “to ensure we continue to see progress in achieving equity for our disadvantaged and marginalized groups,” indicates Courtney.
All three women see the future of social justice as focused and bright, with reason to be hopeful. Jessica summarizes by stating that she is “a woman of positivity,” who “believes that we all have a role to play in advancing justice.” She finishes, “We all have the opportunity to check our biases, better understand our privilege and take the time to learn about others and their lived experiences.” ::