Let’s talk about Social Justice

In my recent job interview for the position of Special Assistant to the President for a University; I was asked if I had any questions as we were winding down. I asked the President what the priorities that he wanted to accomplish were.

Among other significant goals, he said, “Social Justice.” Being that I am an Alaska Native, I was caught off guard by his answer. This gentleman is the first African American President for this University, which is great. However, throughout the interview he deferred a lot to his Chief of Staff while he was, what appeared to be, scrolling his emails or whatever else he found more immediately important than interviewing me.

So when he responded that Social Justice was a high priority for him – I felt confused. And seriously, I filed this in my “needs to marinate” portion of my life, so obviously I could focus on real here and now life happenings, knowing that when duly marinated, this instance would resurface.

Now, marinating does not mean I will have some epiphany of any definitive answer.

Marinating to me, means that I feel something at that point in time which does not make sense to me because my emotions are questioning the actions I am visualizing compared to what I am hearing.

I like words, definitions of words, inferences and evolving meanings of words. I like the unspoken word, and have come to understand that what one word means to me, does not necessarily mean the same thing by another person.

When I perceived his actions not reconciling with his self-proclaimed priority and goal, coupled with the emotion that rose up in me, I instead just let it marinate.

This emotion I felt is purely based on my own perceptions of how I interpreted his actions and words not reconciling. It has zero to do with what was happening in his life at that same moment.

And please, do not even get me started on the many ways I wish I was a better communicator in an interview setting, so I do not revel in thinking about his perception of me.

My point is that before this interview I did not have a personal definition of ‘social justice.’

Now for me, my definition of social justice is taking a foot off the accelerator or the brakes for that matter, when we have these emotions rise up simply because we do not immediately reconcile another persons actions with what we are thinking they are communicating.

Social justice is taking a minute and to just let it marinate.

Anyways, that is all from me today folks. Merry Christmas!

Published by Trudy Sobocienski

My blog, "Beyond Leadership" is a creative place to share my personal feelings and thoughts while working in leadership roles for a variety of Alaska Native organizations, both for and not-for profit entities. An incredible leader and mentor of mine once asked while we were in Washington, DC, "What happened to you between the ages of 7-10 that motivated you to serve in a native leadership capacity". I was struck by that poignant thought and as such, include actual entries from my mother and my diaries beginning in the early 1970's. I enjoy sharing these excerpts because it captures the parallels she and I were experiencing throughout life, from two separate worldviews. Hers as a young mother of four and mine as her eldest child. I have never came across a book on leadership that lays bare a leaders personal feelings, thoughts, hopes, fears and dreams they were experiencing. So for me, my goal is two-fold: 1. Share the incredible life my parents created for my siblings and I growing up in remote Alaska; and, 2) Sharing my humanity, through my personal diaries and journals, while serving as the youngest-ever President/CEO for the Alaska Native Health Board. There are passages that will include significant policy issues I was working on throughout my career and travels. There are many more passages that do not. I cannot speak for my mom's passages, because I am reading them as I share them here, with you; with her permission of course.

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