Wednesday, April 29, 2015

What Next for Social Justice?

Today I had the opportunity to discuss clinical law teaching as a method to advance social justice in a private meeting I can't say much about except that I left it invigorated.

Over the past three days I have felt anything but invigorated as I watched, read, listened to, and pondered media coverage and expert commentary on the massive implosion of community non-development and public non-safety in the much beloved and misunderstood Charm City of Baltimore

This month, my students have been stressed out and frustrated but they have also filed a petition to help a client get access to a vehicle to travel the 30 miles to her job as a maid; counseled a client through issues about her own life-threatening illness and how it may or may not impact her potential filing for divorce; and researched best practices on reporting gender-based violence on campus to advocate for its victims.

What is next for social justice can seem elusive in our world of declining law school applications, a wounded economy that may never fully recover, violence in our streets, and a social media-centric culture that distracts our students and ourselves constantly and often lacks any meaningful results.

Yet we adapt.  We listen to the call for legal assistance for Baltimore that went out on this blog and hundreds of other online lists this week.  We listen to our students when they put down their phones and ask us to review their draft petition.  We listen to our clients when they vent about the system, and we nod and say we agree and we mean that.  We do agree.  The system is porous.  It is messed up.  

Social justice is hard to hear.  It whispers.  But when we stand still, in these spaces we create to cultivate it, we hear that whisper.  And stand ready to start anew each day in our journey through this work, and we respond to that whisper in the words of the brilliant Maya Angelou: "Good morning."

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