February 20th is World Day of Social Justice — observed by the United Nations and people around the world. Since 2009, the UN has encouraged World Day of Social Justice as an opportunity to focus on social justice, draw attention to injustice, and inspire cooperative movements for change.
On this worldwide day of reflection and action, I wonder — how can California, a state with so much wealth, also have so many people experiencing poverty?
For many, California represents endless good weather, boundless natural beauty, and limitless opportunity unmatched by other places on Earth. But peek behind the golden curtain, and you’ll find poverty, homelessness, and other injustices that belie the golden image of the golden state. In a state with so much, it is unconscionable that there are so many Californians unable to share in that wealth.
For me, How?, Why?, and What The @!#$? come to mind.
I am proud that I joined Western Center last summer to be a part of the team that asks not only the questions above, but also works every day to answer them. Since Western Center’s founding in 1967, we’ve worked to ensure access for all Californians to justice, housing, healthcare, and financial and community stability. Our multi-pronged approach to systems change allows us to positively impact the lives of individuals while also creating change that ripples across the state.
Western Center’s litigation team trains and supports legal aid communities to help enforce laws where bad actors would ignore or take advantage. Our advocacy team advances legislation in Sacramento to build a better future for all Californians and stymie efforts that further entrench injustice and exploitation. We don’t do this work alone — we know that robust community partnership and coalitions of support are required to make the change we seek.
I invite you to join us.
You might think the most obvious thing I’m going to ask you for is a donation. And while yes, your financial support of our work is greatly appreciated and provides funding to power our mission, there are other ways I’d love for you to consider joining us as well.
Use your voice. It isn’t just lawyers or policy advocates’ voices that matter – yours does too! I encourage you to contact your elected officials in Sacramento, your county, and your local town to let them know what issues are important to you and what change you’d like to see. Make sure you’re registered to vote and vote every chance you get. Your voice matters.
If you’re not sure who your elected representatives are or how to contact them, you can find that information here. If you are not yet registered to vote, you can do that here.
World Day of Social Justice is a great opportunity to raise a hand and join the community of people and organizations fighting for change. As a donor, as a volunteer, as a social media follower – no matter how you engage, there is a space for you.
Today is a great day to reflect on how social justice resonates with you and to seek out organizations and actions that most speak to you. In addition to Western Center, I have a few suggestions for outstanding organizations you might also engage with:
- A New Way of Life Reentry Project
- First Nations Development Institute
- Black Organizing Project
- Women’s Voices for the Earth
If you’re reading this blog post, it likely means you are a supporter of Western Center and the work that we do. Thank you, today and every day, for fighting alongside us for social justice.