Week 10 Secondary Post: Social Justice Journalism

I’ve stumbled across many social justice blogs and organizations during this year that I wouldn’t have otherwise, if not for this course, Blogging the Just City.

But I still wonder…

Is the future of social justice journalism still bright?

I think a lot of people have different stances on this topic. Plenty of others before me have offered their opinions on issues related to social justice and journalism. Now I want to contribute mine.

Social justice is fundamental to society, any society. There won’t always be complete justice for everybody, but without any measure of justice, there isn’t much of a society. At least in my eyes.

Journalism, on the other hand, isn’t dead. It has just taken on modernized, digitalized forms. And there’s nothing wrong with enhancing the way readers access their news. If anything, journalism has grown more alive. Time has revived the older print form of journalism and breathed new life into it on the Internet. Today writers can share news faster and easier than ever before. 

No matter what happens in the upcoming months and years, there is a future for social justice journalism. Just like there is a future for both separately. Social justice will continue to exist. Advocates will advocate for equality, fairness, and justice. Writers as well as bloggers will keep journalism alive. Social justice journalism has the potential to revolutionize society. 

More and more people are engaging in social justice journalism. Blogs, run by an individual or by an organization, are being created every day. Many of them report on social justice issues or touch on them to some extent. 

Blogging isn’t equivalent to journalism, but it’s still a way of contributing to social justice discussions. And those conversations often lead to so much more. 

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Week 4 Main Post: City Hall And Digital Divide

I expected formality and professionalism on my first visit to City Hall. And though there were elements of both, it was much more casual than I expected. The meeting resembled a structured conversation where councillors were allowed to speak for an allocated amount of time on a specific issue.

The experience was far from boring. In fact, at times, I felt overwhelmed as I tried to soak it all in. Many individuals from councillors to other members in the audience came and went. I found that my eyes would linger when I saw someone stand to leave.

One day I would like to go back. I think City Hall itself is a fascinating building and an interesting tourist spot.City Hall Meeting
The Digital Divide came up in their discussion.

More specifically, they were going back and forth on a motion of whether or not internet costs should be regulated by the government. It’s a relevant issue, especially as costs continue to rise. Companies like Bell and Rogers are two of the biggest Internet providers. It almost feels like these two companies have a duopoly, meaning Bell and Rogers dominate the Internet service market, which makes it harder for other businesses to compete against them. More importantly, this duopoly means regulation of prices by the government or some other body of power is more difficult.

The divide between those who can access the Internet and those who cannot continues to be a growing concern for all. It’s difficult for those in lower-income neighbourhoods to access technology such as computers or smartphones. And for the individuals who do, the access is limited.

According to the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA), more than 80 percent of Canadian households have access to the Internet. Although that number seems high, it isn’t as high as other countries such as Iceland or Denmark where over 90 percent of homes have a connection to the World Wide Web.

It’s interesting to note the varying rates of access across the country. Statistics Canada did a study on Canadian Internet usage back in 2012, determining the percentage of household access by province. It found that British Columbia and Alberta ranked the highest while New Brunswick had the lowest percentage.

I personally cannot imagine my life without the Web. Regardless I’m still baffled by how much my parents pay every month.

Week 3 Secondary Post: Social Justice in Books

When I think about it, I realize a lot of the books I’ve read deal with social justice to some degree. It’s not always at the forefront of the story, but some authors expertly weave elements of justice into their novels.

The Escape by David Baldacci

The Escape by David Baldacci

John Puller’s older brother, Robert, was convicted of treason and national security crimes. His inexplicable escape from prison makes him the most wanted criminal in the country. Some in the government believe that John Puller represents their best chance at capturing Robert alive, and so Puller must bring in his brother to face justice.

But Puller quickly discovers that his brother is pursued by others who don’t want him to survive. Puller is in turn pushed into an uneasy, fraught partnership with another agent, who may have an agenda of her own.

They dig more deeply into the case together, and Puller finds that not only are her allegiances unclear, but there are troubling details about his brother’s conviction . . . and someone out there doesn’t want the truth to ever come to light. As the nationwide manhunt for Robert grows more urgent, Puller’s masterful skills as an investigator and strengths as a fighter may not be enough to save his brother or himself.

Baldacci confronts the legal system and its flaws. In his book, Robert Puller is wrongly convicted for a crime he didn’t commit. This reveals that sometimes innocent people are convicted and other times guilty individuals are let off scotch-free. Moreover, a few of the wealthy characters are able to bypass certain aspects of the system because they are able to pay people to keep their mouth shut. This further highlights the discernible inequality between the rich and poor.

The fictional story makes readers question whether the laws implemented in real life are effective. Additionally we have to wonder whether the punishments for breaking the laws can truly achieve any measure of justice.

A Night Divided by Jennifer A. Nielsen

A Night Divided by Jennifer A. Nielsen

With the rise of the Berlin Wall, twelve-year-old Gerta finds her family suddenly divided. She, her mother, and her brother Fritz live on the eastern side, controlled by the Soviets. Her father and middle brother, who had gone west in search of work, cannot return home. Gerta knows it is dangerous to watch the wall, to think forbidden thoughts of freedom, yet she can’t help herself. She sees the East German soldiers with their guns trained on their own citizens; she, her family, her neighbors and friends are prisoners in their own city.

But one day, while on her way to school, Gerta spots her father on a viewing platform on the western side, pantomiming a peculiar dance. Then, when she receives a mysterious drawing, Gerta puts two and two together and concludes that her father wants Gerta and Fritz to tunnel beneath the wall, out of East Berlin. However, if they are caught, the consequences will be deadly. No one can be trusted. Will Gerta and her family find their way to freedom?

The story explores human’s desire for true freedom. Gerta’s world is constantly censored and monitored by the people in power. For instance, microphones are hidden in the apartment to eavesdrop into the conversations Gerta have with her mother and brother.

Those who don’t abide by the laws are punished accordingly. During her fight for freedom, Gerta breaks nearly every rule she’s ever known, but she feels that doing what is best for her and her family is the right to do.

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao Junot Diaz

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz

Oscar is a sweet but disastrously overweight ghetto nerd who—from the New Jersey home he shares with his old world mother and rebellious sister—dreams of becoming the Dominican J.R.R. Tolkien and, most of all, finding love. But Oscar may never get what he wants. Blame the fukú—a curse that has haunted Oscar’s family for generations, following them on their epic journey from Santo Domingo to the USA.

Readers witness the varying treatment of characters based on factors such as skin colour, size, etc. The narrator repeatedly refers to the dark skin colour of Oscar’s mom especially to contrast with the lighter skinned residents in the neighbourhood. Also since Oscar is overweight, he fails to find love. He’s obsessed with girls more than any other character. His obsession with finding love can be seen as his hope to find someone to cure his loneliness.

Oscar’s journey focuses on what it’s like to start a life in another country where you’re part of a minority. People regarded as “strange”, “weird”, or “different” face challenges of discrimination. Although we shouldn’t judge people by their appearance, we do it on an instinctive level.

Sky Key by James Frey

Sky Key by James Frey

Endgame is here. Earth Key has been found. Two keys—and nine Players—remain. The hunt for Sky Key has begun.

With only two keys left to claim, the remaining Players will stop at nothing to find Sky Key—wherever it is, whatever it is—as the world begins to crumble.

In a dystopian society where the world is falling apart, it doesn’t seem as though justice would exist. However, the rest of society cope rather peacefully. Citizens help each other, families reunite, and random acts of kindness offset the violence associated with Endgame.

The Players have been trained to fight all their lives. So when it’s revealed that the second key is an innocent child belonging to one of the Players, the line between what’s right and what’s wrong blurs. Is it right to kill one person—an innocent child even—in hopes of saving the lives of billions? Sky Key delves into the causes and consequences of violence to tackle why some humans see fighting wars or battles as a solution.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still.

Liesel Meminger is a foster girl living outside of Munich, who scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement.

Zusak examines the implications of censorship in books by the government. Moreover books are burnt to stop citizens from collective reading which leads to individual thinking. On a larger scale, the story tackles issues arising with a lack of access to proper education.

It also looks at outright discrimination and racism of certain groups or individuals. In particular, Jewish people are stripped of many rights. Many go missing, some are outright killed, while others are taken to concentration camps.

(All summaries can be found on Amazon.)

Week 1 Secondary Post: Inequality in Illiteracy

I’ve always felt uneasy every time I think about illiteracy.

I know I’m lucky to be able to read and write. I’m even luckier to have access to libraries and bookstores. Not everyone can pick up a book that easily. Even fewer can read any of the words printed on a page.

If I had to describe my childhood in one word, I’d use the word sheltered. That probably explains why I was shocked to learn illiteracy exists. It exists in a way I can’t comprehend. Even today I can’t even begin to envision a life where I couldn’t read a novel or write my own name. But that’s the life millions of people live every single day.

I don’t know what it’s like to be illiterate, to not have access to a good education, to face the challenges others face through no fault of their own. This reality sunk in the most when Grammarly approached me in helping to promote International Literacy Day. It fell on the 8th of September last year. I couldn’t turn down an opportunity to promote and raise awareness for such a worthwhile cause.

They simply wanted me to post this infographic:

(Image courtesy of Grammarly.)

What I couldn’t wrap my ahead around was that for just writing about literacy and posting the graphic on my blog, they’d donate ten dollars in my name to a charity of my choice. The charities, of course, were literacy-promoting ones.

I had a tough time deciding between Reading is Fundamental, First Book, and ProLiteracy. In the email, I wrote back saying, “I would love for the Reading Is Fundamental organization to receive the donation”. Even though it upset me that I couldn’t donate to all three back then, I promised myself one day I will.

At the time, I appreciated the work RIF was doing and has done. I know a ten dollar donation doesn’t seem like much. Still, I like to think they made good use of it.

I hope I stay true to what I said in 2015.

“In the future, I hope to donate more of my time and money for the cause.”