By Hannah Green, Crisis Intervention Operations Coordinator
When it comes to celebrating a holiday, we have many traditions that help us promote holiday spirit. Whether it’s watching The Notebook on Valentine’s Day or listening to festive music, our holidays are defined by how we celebrate them. It’s easy to tell someone to walk the plank on National Talk Like a Pirate Day (September 19) or indulge your sweet side on International Waffle Day (March 25) but what are you supposed to do to celebrate World Day of Social Justice from your cozy, pandemic-mandated den?
Because we see social injustice in so many forms, the thought of trying to make a difference can be incredibly overwhelming. We recently saw the Iowa City School District take steps to address economic and digital inequality by providing hot spots to students. Reliable internet access has been extremely important during the pandemic and the lack thereof is quickly becoming an obstacle to educational social justice. Another area of concern when transitioning school age students to an online learning model is food insecurity; many families rely on free and reduced lunch in order to meet the nutritional needs of their children.
One of CommUnity’s greatest challenges this past year has been making adjustments to our Food Bank in order to continue to provide one of the most unique, client-centered food bank experiences possible. Addressing the social injustice of food insecurity definitely falls into the category of overwhelming, but by making some small changes, CommUnity has been able to not only keep, but enrich our food pantry shopping model. By increasing the size of the shopping area, implementing social distancing protocols, and using barriers to limit particle transmission, CommUnity has been able to continue providing our clients with the ability to shop for what they need with regard to quantity, preference, and dietary restrictions as opposed to a premade bag. Working hard to address food insecurity, thus furthering our mission of providing immediate and non-judgemental support for individuals facing crisis, is our way of fighting social injustice every single day.
We are lucky to have such a direct social justice connection in our work here; if you are looking for a way you can celebrate this year on World Day of Social Justice, here are some simple ways you can participate from home:
- Watch the movie 13th on Youtube; A documentary that dives deep into the prison system of the United States and the criminalization of African Americans.
- Binge the series When They See Us; a true story of how five Black and Latino teens were wrongly accused of a horrific crime. Available without subscription on Netflix.
- Listen to the Podcast 1619 Project; Nikole Hannah-Jones (born in Waterloo, Iowa) examines how slavery has shaped America.
- Order dinner from a Black-owned restaurant in the Iowa City/Cedar Rapids area. By supporting minority-owned businesses both with our dollars and enthusiasm, we directly affect who can stay open during the pandemic.
- Donate to your favorite local food bank or even sign up to volunteer with us!
- Learn more about the hunger strike in Southeast Chicago to protest environmental racism. Keeping up on current social justice topics and bringing them up in conversation helps you and those around you recognize and understand social injustice when you see it.