Social Justice

What is social justice?

Social justice is the capacity to organize with others to remove barriers that prevent the existence of an egalitarian society- free of stratifications that are based on class, race, ethnicity, gender, ability, sexual orientation, age etc. Essentially, social justice is the act of guaranteeing fair outcomes for all (United Nations, 2020; Novak, 2009).

What does racism look like?

We all know that racism is insidious and hurts all of us. When most think of the construct of racism, we imagine overt discriminatory behaviors and practices such as racial epithets. However, racism has varied manifestations that are apparent at the institutional, interpersonal, individual (internalized) levels. Racism is defined a system of social stratification that consists of those who are superiority/inferiority; this system blocks access to resources, safety, and power based on skin color, ethnicity, religion, culture and/or language (Grosfoguel, 2016). Further, racism can cause traumatic stress that has immediate or cumulative effect on an individual’s confidence, sense of agency and belonging in a community.

African Americans/Blacks experience a unique intersection of multigenerational trauma, violence, and inequality that is rooted in the legacy of American chattel slavery. This phenomenon is known post traumatic slavery syndrome (PTSS), which a theory that posits that the historical trauma inflicted by slavery has created a pathway for adaptive survival behaviors in African American/Black communities. Maladaptive behaviors are reflective of vacant esteem, a sense of helplessness, and a marked propensity for anger and violence. Further, to heal from PTSS, there must be opportunities for African Americans/Blacks to develop skills to transform maladaptive behaviors into adaptive ones (DeGruy, 2005).

How can we affect change?

It is our responsibility as an academic community to get curious and educate ourselves and create safe spaces to discuss the ways in which racism presents itself in our every lives, how it impacts us, as well as how to rid our society of this problem. One of the pathways to ensure social justice is to acknowledge the existence of inequalities and take steps to address them. Social justice in education attends to the systems of power and privilege that give way to social inequality. In addition, social justice in education encourages students to think critically about inequality and consider opportunities for social action and change (Hackman, 2005).

IUSD has made a commitment to align its efforts to closing the gap of racial injustices and inequities in our school community by

  • Building community and partnering with parents and students.
  • Providing safe spaces to dialogue about discourses of race, identity, and privilege.
  • Examining and making adjustments to the school curriculum related to antiracism and equity.
  • Integrating antiracism and equity goals in the classroom environment and curriculum (Nguyen & Yung, 2020).

For more information about social justice please check out the following resources.

Social Justice Video

Cultural Humility

I'm Still Here by Austin Channing Brown

The Movement for Black Lives Blog by Justin Leroy, Ph.D.

Using Social-Emotional learning as an Equalizer in the Classroom

Unmasking Racial Macroaggressions by Tori DeAngelis

Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome by Joy Angela DeGruy, Ph.D.

White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo

Resilience- American Psychological Association


DeGruy, J. (2005). Post Traumatic Slavery Syndrome: America's Legacy of Enduring Injury and Healing. Milwaukie, Oregon: Uptone Press

Grosfoguel, R. (2016). What is Racism?. Journal of World-Systems Research, 22(1), 9-15.

Hackman, H. (2005). Five essential components to social justice education. Equity & Excellence in Education, 38, 103-109. Doi: 10.1080/10665680590935034

Nguyen & Yung. (August 17, 2020). Preparing for a Reproductive & Supportive Start. Districtwide Professional Learning Day July/Aug 2020.

Novak, M. (2009). Social Justice: Not What You Think It Is. The Heritage Foundation.

United Nations. (2020). 2020 Theme: “Closing the Inequalities Gap to Achieve Social Justice”.