Have you found yourself wondering what you can do to elevate justice and heal the harms that are rampant through our society? Do you find yourself questioning the best way to move forward in hopes of not doing harm to others and/or not continuing to experience harm yourself? If so, you are not alone. I am right there with you. I am writing this post as an invitation for personal reflection. Though racism is systemic, it is also personal and it is helpful to start with ourselves. It is from a humble posture of learning and deep commitment as an ally that I offer this post for your consideration.
To first get you grounded in the virtues, I invite you to watch the video, "We Shall Overcome: Love Will Rise Again", by Empty Hands Music, and notice how many virtues you see in action.
Now that you are looking through the lens of the virtues, I have found that using The 5 Strategies of The Virtues Project as a tool for transformation can be extremely powerful. I have used it for personal reflection, to strengthen team and community unity as well as for strategic planning. I invite you to reflect on the following questions through the lens of social justice. You may also wish to use the questions as an interactive interview activity, where you share your answers with another person and they listen with receptive silence, holding space so you can hear yourself think. When you are done sharing, they offer you a virtues acknowledgement and then you switch roles.
An example of a virtues acknowledgement is as follows: I hear your humility about just coming to understand what you do not know about the reality of racism and your commitment to learn more.
Social Justice Through the Lens of The 5 Strategies of The Virtues Project Personal Reflection
- Speaking the Language of Virtues:
What are your strength virtues when looking through the lens of social justice? Choose one and reflect how you practice it? What are your growth virtues when looking though the lens of social justice? Choose one and share how it would be helpful if you strengthened it.
My strength virtues are compassion, commitment and courage. I am committed to being an ally as well as learning all I can about racism and sharing what I learn with others.
My growth virtues are patience, self discipline and detachment. It would be helpful for me to call on more detachment when interacting with people who have different opinions about racism and social justice than I do. I really need to be mindful of my facial expressions, honoring people to share their perspective. Listening can be a first step towards understanding, peace, justice and unity.
You can access the Virtues Cards app to help you explore your virtues further.
- Recognizing Teachable Moments
What lessons are your learning, or need to be learning, about race and social justice at this time?
For me, I am coming understand more deeply my own unearned white privilege, the injustice that our country was founded on and my responsibility as a white woman to do my own learning about racism and to share that learning with other white people of unearned privilege.
In the past, I have asked dear friends of mine of African Descent to help “teach me” about racism and the lived experience of People of Color because I sincerely care and wanted know more so that I could be helpful. In addition, I wanted to make amends for any harm I had caused and learn how not to cause further harm. What I didn’t understand, and do now, is that it is my responsibility as a white person to do my own learning about the truth of our unjust history and the injustices that have perpetuated more than 400 years. Each time I asked a Person of Color to teach me, I was also asking them to do my emotional labor which continues to be triggering and traumatizing for them…more injustice. Black and Brown folks are tired of teaching me/us about their lived experience.
Here is a blog post that a dear friend of mine, Radiance Talley, wrote about how being an ally can help bring hope.
- Setting Clear Boundaries Based on Restorative Justice
What boundaries do you have about race and social justice? What boundaries do you need about race and social justice?
A boundary I have with regard to social justice is that I do stand for social justice and am an active ally. A boundary I need to be more mindful of is to discern when it is helpful to step up/ step in and when it is helpful to step back and not step in. Also, when I am aware that I caused harm that I do all I can to make amends and make things right. Here is an Anti-Racism Intervention Tool that has helpful guidance.
- Honoring the Spirit:
How do you honor your spirit when looking through the lens of race and social justice?
I do a lot of praying, journalling and reading. My go to reading is The Advent of Divine Justice by Shoghi Effendi.
When I need to put my own oxygen mask on, On Building a Culture and How Our Mental Health Affects Our Anti-racism Work, is a helpful resource.
5. Offer Companioning:
How well do you listen? What really needs to be heard when it comes to race and social justice?
I can definitely improve my listening!! I feel passionately about social justice and depending on who I am listening to, and what they are sharing, I find myself either extremely compassionate or wanting to go into teacher mode.
What really needs to be heard about race and social justice is how white supremacy impacts justice. This article may be helpful in deepening your own understanding What is White Supremacy?
Below are resources I hope you will find useful and meaningful.
Here is a link to some resources where you can dig deeper into race and social justice.
Below are a few sites where you can dig deeper into the 5 Strategies of The Virtues Project
The Virtues Project
Virtues in Education Resources
This blog is posted with humility, love and commitment to end racism and unite humanity! I welcome your thoughts!
Dara, Virtues Matter Co-founder