Social Justice…More than Equality

In my Social Justice classes, I spend the entire semester getting students to understand and assess different understandings of the term “social justice.”  By the end of the semester, they have to articulate and defend their definition.

One thing I have to get them to understand is that even though equality and justice are related there is a slight difference.  Equality is a more theological/philosophical claim about the intrinsic value of the human being.  All human beings are created in God’s image and carry the divine.  Thus, all human beings have equal intrinsic value.

Justice is different and adds a different understanding to the term equality.  Equality, as we usually discuss it, means sameness: everyone takes the same test, gets the same resource, etc.

tree test

Justice, however, critiques this idea of equality and often focuses on the privileging and underprivileging that precedes any discussion of equality.  For example, two students take the same 3rd grade reading test but one of them doesn’t even know the alphabet because his/her school has failed them.

equality justice

These two cartoons have been making their rounds on facebook and the internet.  They have been useful in helping my students to think about this.  So, I thought I’d post them.



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