Advocating for change amidst pandemic

Why fighting for social justice is important now more than ever

Madeline Bruce, Features Editor

This semester, I am taking a class called Writing for Social Change, which focuses on social justice issues and how writers can bring awareness to those issues, as well as mold their writing in a way that is more inclusive.
I’ve always loved social justice. I started considering myself an “activist” in high school and have held on to that since then.
My activism has had its highs and lows over the years, but my interest in social justice has never wavered, even during the pandemic. In fact, I think the pandemic has proven to me just how important social justice and activism is.
With 30 million people filing for unemployment, schools switching to remote instruction and businesses closing down, the daily inequalities that plague the U.S. have come out of the woodwork in the last six months.
Just because we aren’t in a total-lockdown state doesn’t mean that the struggle is over. As I was scrolling through Twitter one day, I came upon a video posted by the news media source Reuters. This video was a feature on a low-income immigrant family living in Los Angeles. Their school district is required by the state of California to operate completely remotely for the fall portion of the school year.
Because they’re low income, this family does not have high-speed internet, adequate technology or appropriate space for the children to succeed in school. The mother uses her phone as a hotspot, and the children work huddled at the kitchen table with laptops provided by the school district. At times, the internet connection gets slowed down by the amount of devices using it, preventing the children from completing their work or participating in video classes.
Suddenly, the digital divide has become as large of a problem as food insecurity or housing insecurity. Now, in order to do well in school, children must have good internet, up-do-date technology and a quiet, comfortable space to study. These things aren’t as common as you think.
The mother in the video tells the interviewer that she can’t see the point in paying for internet beyond the data plan on her phone, because she needs that money for food, electricity, clothing, and to simply pay the bills. Unfortunately, this family isn’t the only one in the U.S. that is facing this new problem.
As I was hearing this family’s story, I realized that we need social justice now more than ever. Natural disasters, like a global pandemic, exacerbate human rights abuses and create an excuse for the government to further marginalize people. Now that we’re facing an education divide, it will be even harder for low-income students to succeed and go to college, and it was already hard enough.
On that note, I don’t think social justice is being ignored in the midst of the pandemic. If anything, people are paying more attention now. They’re doing more about these problems that we face on a daily basis.
Take the Black Lives Matter movement that swept the nation at the beginning of the summer. Protests are still going strong, even though they’re not covered in mainstream media.
The coronavirus pandemic has proven that desperate times truly bring injustices out of the woodwork. And, when people have the time, they can and will do something about it. We can’t give up this fight for social justice, not now, and not ever.

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