At the university where I work, classes have finished up. This past semester, I taught a course on Multicultural Counseling. A big part of what we talk about is how we can help advocate for justice in the lives of our clients.
We also discuss current events related to justice. We talk about the continued struggles in our nation for people who experience discrimination and prejudice based on various identities such as race/ethnicity, gender, religion, and sexual orientation. Injustice has been front and center in our country during the past couple weeks, as we continue to struggle with issues such as systemic racism and police brutality.
Sometimes I struggle with teaching this course because I’m white. In fact, I identify with just about every privileged group in our society. I sometimes wonder if the course might be taught more effectively by a person of color, or a woman. I question what my role is in promoting justice in our society. In a similar way, sometimes I struggle with knowing how to speak out about injustice in our society at large. Sometimes as a white person, it feels like I represent part of the problem, so it’s hard to know how to help.
Each of Us Has a Part to Play
As much as I struggle with this tension, I absolutely believe each of us has a part to play in working for justice in our society, irrespective of our cultural background or whether we are part of a privileged or disadvantaged cultural group.
I remember talking with a professor whom I very much respect for his work advocating for justice. He said that advocacy is viewed differently depending on the source. For example, a person of color can advocate for their group and speak from a position of experience. I can’t do that. However, there may be white people who would discount a message from a person of color, but might listen to someone who looks like me.
Don’t believe the lie that you don’t have a role or part to play in advocating for justice. Advocacy might look different depending on your background and experience. But we all need to work together to make the world a place where everyone has an equal opportunity to live a full, free life.
Have you struggled to identify your part to play when working toward justice in our society? What would advocacy look like from your position?