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Breaking away from tradition, for social justice

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One of the main effects of social justice is that it creates a revolution. When an act of revolution is a success, systems and people change in response to that revolution. Today, I want to write about how the cause of social justice can intersect with culture and give culture a reform.

Often, the idea is that culture is culture and that no one’s culture nor your own culture should be criticized. It is important to be respectful to everyone’s culture but when aspects of culture or the interpretation of culture are explicitly used to indignify people, there should be a moral responsibility to respond.

As an Igbo woman, I am well aware of the fact that for generations, patriarchy has been entrenched in the culture (this was further complicated by the introduction of Victorian-style Christianity). I desire, however, to rise above that idea that the woman has to be the man’s human subordinate or be the loyal bearer of an irresponsible husband’s misbehaviours. I am vocal about the patriarchy. Culture should not be above criticism but the criticism should be done in a manner that can enhance peaceful dialogue. By the way, I LOVE being Igbo – it is a beautiful culture with different great dialects and traditions.

It is indeed a challenge to break through certain aspects of tradition, for the sake of social justice. Please note”break through” or even break away, as social justice does often mean breaking away from some elements of tradition, although it does not require complete abandonment of a culture in general. Change is hard. Societies are becoming well aware of the need to give women as much opportunities as they give men. Countries in North America are realizing that racial tensions are not good for any society and are finding ways to give more representation to ethnic and racial minorities. These are all adjustments. What you notice with such adjustments is that the institutions making the adjustments, fail, get criticized and try again. It is hard to break away from tradition. Even when a change happens, there is a learning process to go through.

But, social justice is about revolutions. People can catch up. Institutions can catch up. Positive change can be permanent. These can all start with just one or more bold steps addressing the parts of any culture that do more harm than good to humanity. Culture can be modified over and over again and every person should be open to this.

Love,

Chiamaka

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