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Social Justice on Social Media, With Insight from Eliel Cruz

Peter Broelman, Cagle Cartoons, Australia

Peter Broelman, Cagle Cartoons, Australia

According to Google, the following is the definition of social justice.

so·cial jus·tice


noun: social justice

  1. justice in terms of the distribution of wealth, opportunities, and privileges within a society.
  2. “individuality gives way to the struggle for social justice”

The place social justice is the most prevalent is social media. Whether it be on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, or Tumblr,  the internet has paved the road to both heaven and hell for social justice causes. I had the opportunity to speak to Eliel Cruz, former director of Faith in America (An organization working towards ending religious based bigotry towards the LGBT+ community), writer, speaker, and ‘professional bisexual’, about his thoughts on this matter.

Social media has given everybody eyes and ears in places we may never actually go to in our lives, whether it be the sight of a civil rights protest or the sight of an airstrike in Syria. Cruz said the following about how this has impacted his view of the world.

“It can be depressing to see how bold individuals are behind a screen. So much of the hate towards various groups that is shared on social media wouldn’t happen when confronted face to face. It can also be emotionally exhausting to see injustices happen in real time around the world. But it has also brought me a community of individuals who believe in doing good work towards equality. There’s good and bad but with self-care and in remaining centered in your work you can take on the bad.”

Though seeing things hard for us to comprehend can put us in a bad mental place, it gives way to deeper thinking on issues we may never think about, especially when it comes to things that don’t affect us directly (For me as a white girl, social media has greatly expanded my knowledge and understanding of race-related injustices). The Black Lives Matter movement has social media to thank for how much it’s grown. Beyond that, Cruz said that “feminism, queer politics, visibility issues, and a host of other important issues have also been given needed spotlight.”

That said, there is a downside to issues being put on a pedestal or a trending hashtag on Twitter. Sure, having a platform brings positive attention to issues, but the internet is plagued with hate. Along with that, people who speak a lot on social media sometimes tend to act as if they don’t need to do any real life advocacy work.

“It can, for some, desensitize us to violence against oppressed groups. It can also keep us from doing important, on the ground, organizing work that is needed. We can’t just remain behind our phones. Our RTs won’t end our oppression,” Cruz spoke.

Even when it seems as if every issue is being brought to light, there will always be problems in the shadows, issues that need more light than they’re getting. Among them are often ignored LGBT+ causes having to do with visibility, something he is a powerful advocate for is LGBT+ inclusion in the faith community.

“I would like to see the LGBT community engage religious work more meaningfully. When it comes to all of the anti-LGBT bias we face — whether through homelessness, suicide, conversion therapy, and other legislative attacks — it is fueled by anti-LGBT theology. In order to combat that, we must utilize the LGBT people of faith and our allies to the fullest extent.”

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Mollie Davis
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Mollie is a writer, advocate, and theatre nerd residing in Southern Maryland. Outside of writing for journalism purposes, she enjoys play-writing and is currently working a full-length musical with a friend. #MoreThan4

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