WHAT IS SOCIAL JUSTICE? 3 to repair wrongs of past or ongoing conflict among different groups through awareness and engagement. The goal is not just awareness of injustices that happen in society but to build social awareness, which develops cultural humility and cultural competency. When people start to learn about other cultural identities, they start to understand how certain events or circumstances may make another person feel and become able to empathize with that person. This is social awareness, and it leads to a higher level of emotional intelligence among those willing to check their own social awareness. Emotional intelligence helps people to evaluate their own feelings and manage them while being able to take a different per- spective on situations without conflict. Will everyone be in agreement? Of course not. However, learning, growing, and effective communication cre- ate opportunities that will ultimately lead to social justice. Then there is the engagement part of attempting to repair wrongs from the past. To become engaged is to go beyond learning for oneself to taking action. This is done by taking part in implementing and promoting cultural representation and appreciation in operations, programs, and services with the aim to increase motivation to equitably meet the needs of others. This can sound like a hard task, especially when one does not know where to start, but it can be achieved. Despite all of the aforementioned definitions of social justice and what it entails, it can still be a confusing term that some people can’t quite put their finger on. This is understandable if it is a topic that is not the norm for those who are currently an audience to the discussion. To sum it up, social justice ensures that the same freedoms and liberties for one group are available to all members of society in a fair and equitable way. This encompasses freedom of speech, representation, and the freedom to live a dignified life with integrity. The overall effect of social justice is ending discrimination and building a society that operates on the principles of trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring, and citizenship, also known as The Six Pillars of Character® (CHARACTER COUNTS!®, 1992). In the following chapters, we hope to provide some clarity on what we believe social justice means when it comes to presenting at storytime and the impact it can have on your storytimes and in your libraries in general. Libraries of the past and present are known for being beacons of social change and a safe haven for people who feel other or different. When events happen in the world that bring about global consciousness of social justice issues, communities begin to focus on disparities among marginal- ized groups. This in turn creates the desire to act in order to bring about change that opens up opportunities for people within these groups. Such
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