Rethinking Social Justice

Ongoing: January 2017 – 

I started a community intellectual monthly reading group named “Rethinking Social Justice.” It was an idea that emerged near the end of my first quarter in MACS. I was getting so much theory out of my readings and class discussions and I wondered why they had to be relegated to the university. I imagined that there were other people in the community chewing on the following questions:

How do I be in the world?
How do I be in community?
How do I love people who disagree with me?

Here’s the preliminary list of topics I brainstormed:

  • Reclaiming our Right to Theorize
  • Performativity of Activism
  • Class Shame
  • What is Intersectionality
  • What is Neoliberalism
  • Beyond Marginalization
  • Decolonizing Queerness
  • Against Individualism
  • Disability Justice
  • Utopian Performative

When I shared my idea across social media, I was hoping one or two people would step up and offer to facilitate with me. While I received several notes of interest, nobody had the time or interest to collaborate on this project. So, I went forward with it on my own, collecting readings for the first few topics, finding a free space to meet, and sending out planning and reminder emails. Here are the readings for the inaugural meeting:

  1. “Theory as Liberatory Practice” – bell hooks
  2. “Elena Ferrante and the Politics of Deference” – Fredrik deBoer
  3. “The Anti-Intellectualism of the Social Justice Community is Killing Us All” – Scot Nakagawa

In Schensul’s piece “Challenging Hegemonies,” Advancing Collaboration in Community-Based Participatory Action Research,” the authors argue that it is the responsibility of the social scientist/scholar to share their technical tools with community to create new openings and expand conversations with more voices. I see myself as a catalyst in this space, learning as I lead and listen to other activists in fields separate from the academy.

Planning Document