Fighting Injustice with Human Solidarity

December 20, 2022

By Kara Anderson ’25

Speaker at a rally against hate speech, by Fibonacci Blue via Wikimedia Commons

We live in a world full of injustices. When we encounter them, it can be hard to know how to respond. Injustice comes in many forms, and so there are many ways to fight against it. 

Sometimes, there are relatively simple steps one can take to fight against injustice – steps that do not take much time. This includes speaking up when you hear a derogatory comment. While this may be simple, it can still be challengingto do and have a powerful impact on others. The Southern Poverty Law Center has created “Speak Up! Responding to Everyday Bigotry” to help you navigate these situations.

Sometimes talking to someone about their language is not enough. Not everyone is open to these conversations. And, often the problem goes far beyond bigoted comments. Comments may be joined with harmful actions and even policies. These all contribute to the creation of a culture of injustice- a culture that can seem impenetrable. A culture that you very well may be told is impenetrable.

You cannot listen to the voice telling you change is impossible, whether it be your own or someone else’s. Throughout history we have seen the impossible come to pass. We have seen change be implemented. We have seen how one person can spark a movement, and how even the most insurmountable obstacles can be tackled. You CAN make a difference, and change IS possible.

So how do you fight for change when you witness an injustice in your community?

First, you have to have three things: hope, grit, and joyWithout hope for a better future things will never change. You must advocate knowing that a difference can be made and let that drive you. 

You must also have grit. Advocacy can be like driving on a long and rocky road scattered with fallen trees and other obstacles. It will not always be easy, and there are sure to be many challenges along the way. So you must be enduring, adaptable, and patient.

Third, you have to find joy. When traveling on that long and difficult road it can be hard to find joy in your work, but it is much easier to reach your destination with it. You have to take care of yourself, both physically and mentally, to be able to keep working for change. Looking for and holding on to the joy in your work will help with that. It also can open your mind to new, effective, and creative means to spread your message.

Now, given you have hope, grit, and joy, what specific steps can you take to advocate for change? There are many.

1. One option is to communicate with decision makers. These are your elected officials, community leaders, and other people in positions of power (including college and university administrators). Sometimes we may feel like the entire system needs to be destroyed, but there are ways to work within the system to fight for change.

You can contact decision makers through letters, phone calls, and in-person meetings. But before you contact, you should identify your concern, research the issue, identify who to contact, and research that contact person/decision maker. The linked resources can help you through this process.

2. Another option is to organize and/or attend a protest, demonstration, or rally. Protests can bring attention to an issue, educate others, garner support, and place pressure on decision makers. A protest may be effective when more traditional means of advocacy have failed.

When organizing a protest, make sure your purpose is clear and that you articulate your demands. You must have a plan, and ensure that safety is prioritized and rights known. You should also generate solidarity (such as through chants and songs) and craft a unified and inclusive message. For more information on how to organize and attend a protest, visit the ACLU’s page on protesting.

3. You may also use more creative means to spread your message. Art, music, poetry, and performance can touch souls in a way words alone can’t. They are powerful, transformative, and generate empathy. The sky’s the limit with what art can do.

One creative way to spread your message is by creating participatory public art and utilizing landmarks. Many college campuses have a rock which can be painted with important messages. On Albion’s campus, The Rock is frequently used to promote rights and offer solidarity. In the past year, I have seen The Rock painted to support the LGBTQIA+ community and Black Lives Matter, as well as survivors of the Oxford school shooting and to express solidarity with Ukraine.

Communicating with decision makers, protesting, and using creative means are some of the major steps that can be taken to fight injustice, but it is not an all inclusive list. There are many ways to make a difference, and each and every person has the power to do so.

For more information about how to fight against injustice and advocate for change, visit our online Advocacy Toolkit. And if you are an Albion College student, you may consider taking the innovation badge Advocacy: Strategies and Tactics for more detailed training on how to fight against injustice.

Kara Anderson ’25 is a sophomore political science major and English minor, pursing an experiential learning certificate in human rights. At Albion, Kara is a part of the Prentiss M. Brown Honors Program and the Gerald R. Ford Institute for Leadership in Public Policy and Service.  Kara is a member of the Human Rights Lab. She is passionate about human rights and aspires to be a human rights lawyer. The views expressed here are her own and not necessarily those of Albion College