Somehow, the idea of being a social justice warrior has gotten a bad rep. I think I was one before I understood that there was a name for it and a stigma attached to it.
Do you remember the Kony 2012 disaster? Whenever that was popular and people realized that there was a real threat to others (before the people who put out the video went and became dumb and whatever other scandals that followed), I was really into that. But really into it, I mean I showed the video and stuff to my mom and I cried. I sat there with her and cried for the child soldiers. I cried for those who would never have the love that I had and have the safety around them that I was so blessed to have.
My mom was going to buy me the whole kit of posters and stickers and other things to stop Kony. I was ready. I was excited to do my part. To help those who were voiceless. This was my time to be who I thought I was.
And then that went downhill.
In high school, around the same time, there was a bombing in a main square in Syria over protestors. The bombs were filled of different gases to inflict harm. I think the number was over a thousand of people who either died or were severely injured. Most were women and children. I called my boyfriend at the time and bawled. That was a couple hour conversation of me being angry at the world while he attempted to calm me down.
My first year of university was at the University of Waterloo for international development. I was able to learn about developing countries, how FIFA hurt them, how the TOMS model wasn’t really a great one. I learned what could be done, what has been done, and what damage could be undone. I loved learning about it all and getting fired up for what I could do.
Then came my switch to Bible college. I took many intercultural and missions related classes on how to help the nations – what we could do on not only a spiritual level, but on a physical level as well. To create a holistic approach to it. I loved it.
Through this time, I watched documentaries, found what brands are the worst in terms of having their employees being practically slaves and had terrible working conditions, and actively sought out better brands and told others about these brands.
I was so excited for all of this. For the justice that I could help bring to those in need.
And somehow, I moved to the midwest. The place where “social justice warrior” has become an insult.
I don’t understand. Why is fighting for equal rights, for better pay, for better lives for those who don’t have much of a voice considered bad? I don’t understand. I want to be able to yell about the brands that allow for poor working conditions. I want to show them all of these things. Yet somehow, it’s bad that I just want to help those overseas or even in my own area.
I just don’t understand.