One of the five values of the Micah Summer Fellowship is social justice. The aim of this value is that “through service and reflection on lived experiences, Micah Fellows will examine the causes of oppression and look for ways to bring about justice in our world”. During the program I have had the opportunity to work for a non-profit who fights for social justice and had meaningful conversations with the Stardust team about social justice. Not only that, this program has instilled a lifelong passion in me for social justice action. This is the value of the program that I feel most connected with and that I have learned the most about and that has changed the most for me.
I am incredibly grateful for my experience this summer because I have been able to learn so much and engage in social justice action and discussion more so than I ever have before. Too often my discussions with others at school about social justice issues have been brushed off as too depressing and too complicated to continue a meaningful conversation. This, in a way, limited my involvement in social justice up until this point because I didn’t have the right allies to work alongside. Our discussions during the fellowship about social justice and oppression during the fellowship become frustrating as we immerse ourselves in a topic that has no easy answer. However, our conversations contained an element that was new for me. This struggle, instead of defeating me, inspires me more to fight harder and I have become swept up in my own passion and the passion of others around me to continue the social justice fight. Immersing ourselves in the communities we are surrounded by has given an all too real face to the injustice of homelessness which makes it hard to turn away from the work no matter how much of an uphill battle we face. The combination of working with the theoretical (reading about social justice) and the actual (working with our non-profits) has given me a new perspective on social justice and how we can work towards equality for poverty and homelessness.
Our readings have been a very stimulating and thought provoking part of the fellowship for me. Being able to connect these readings to what I am experiencing everyday makes the messages of the readings more transparent. They have helped me look at other avenues of bringing social justice to the forefront of policy making and society’s mind. They have truly made me think about the root causes of injustices like poverty. The reading I connect with the most is The Rich and the Rest of Us because it really highlights how poverty is a social justice issue and highlights the complex issues that cause poverty in the United States. Not only is there the economic inequality but the social stigma of poverty that needs to be addressed in order to create permanent change. Social justice action is still a very daunting concept for me, but I no longer feel like it is out of my hands or out of the hands of anyone who has the passion for justice.
The self-reflection aspect of the fellowship has made me ponder my own role in fighting for social justice, not just during this program but in the long run. Playing a role in social justice action has become a tangible thing for me as I have worked with APC and gained new knowledge about social justice action through the readings in this program. My role may be small and the pace of change toward fixing injustice may be slow, but I fell that it is worthwhile and the transforming feeling that this action provides will continue to fuel my passion for social justice action. Having been transformed through my service and reflection during this time, I am unable to shy away from action in the future.