By Dr. Denise Ferreira da Silva

Nov 15, 2016

Faculty and students at UBC’s Social Justice Institute are committed to continue to engage in research and teaching designed to contribute to refashioning existing and designing new critical tools that will help us to stop the unfolding of a future of colonial, racial, and sexual violence.

Again and again a question comes back to those of us committed to a vision for social justice that addresses colonial, racial, gender-sexual subjugation. Every time we go back to the tools available for critical thinking. Each time we demand that the state and other juridical structures (such as the UN) develop and implement protective (rights) and corrective measures (public policies) that will help to dismantle the structures of colonial and social subjugation and others designed to correct the effects of past subjugation. Behind these intellectual and political moves is a consistent trust that things will change, that it will be better.

Historical approaches of the right (Hegel) and the left (Marx) have identified America (the US) as the land of the future. Looking at developments in the past 40 years of so, it’s difficult to trust that actual social and global justice stand before us. Let’s look at what has unfolded in the US: beginning in the early 1980s, significant shifts have resulted in the end of the welfare state (Reagan, Bush, and Clinton), and in that the needs of the economy trumps those of persons (Obama) in the 2000s. After 9/11, the Bush administration led the building of a global security apparatus, targeting the ‘enemy of liberty’, prepared to crush any and all forms of protest. Last Tuesday (11/9) the presidential election results have unleashed white supremacy, homophobia, transphobia and all other means available for identifying ‘the enemy’ and authorizing people to take ‘it’ (make their lives better or “America great again”) into their own hands (Trump). What is to be done? The question has returned. No one has a monopoly of the answer.