Controversies in Philanthropy: FSSO 119-100 Fall 2021

What Is Social Injustice?

Social injustice refers to wrongful actions against individuals within society. This occurs when the unequal get treated equally while equals get treated unequally. Homophobia, ageism, and discrimination are three common social injustice examples. 

In an ideal world, all people of different genders, races, origins, and religions would be treated in the same way, in all aspects of life, including, but not limited to, healthcare, education, housing, work, etc. In the past, there have been great efforts and movements to improve conditions for women, African Americans, and the LGBTQ+ community, as listed below:

The History and Events of Social Injustice in America 

The Women's Suffrage Movement:

The women's suffrage movement lasted decades and included the fight to gain voting rights among women within the United States. The movement began around the mid 1800s and ended in August 1920 when the ratification of the 19th amendment occurred. Several generations of woman suffrage supporters lectured, wrote, marched, lobbied, and practiced civil disobedience to achieve revolutionary change and guarantee women the right to vote. Other tactics included picketing, silent vigils, and hunger strikes. The movement not just included women, but also women of color and men who believed in the right to vote no matter the gender. The suffrage movement was a time where societal and political changes occurred as a result of the refusal to comply with such discrimination anymore. 

Women's Right to Vote
Passed by Congress June 4, 1919. Ratified August 18, 1920

"The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex."

The Civil Rights Movement:

The Civil Rights Movement revolved around the fight for social justice that took place mainly during the 1950s and 1960s for Black Americans to gain equal rights within the United States through nonviolent protests. The Civil War had officially abolished slavery, but it didn’t end discrimination against Black people as racism and its detrimental effects were still present, especially in the South. By the mid-20th century, Black Americans had had more than enough of prejudice and violence against them. They, along with many white Americans, mobilized and began an unprecedented fight for equality that spanned two decades. Leaders of the movement included Martin Luther King Jr., Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Rosa Parks, W.E.B. Du Bois and Malcolm X. Accomplishments in social change occurred as a result of the Civil Rights Movement, but two significant outcomes included the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The movement ignited extremely important social changes that went against the years of racist mindsets and behaviors.

"The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was the most comprehensive civil rights legislation ever enacted by Congress. It contained extensive measures to dismantle Jim Crow segregation and combat racial discrimination."

-Clay Risen and Todd Purdum, Khan Academy 

"The Voting Rights Act of 1965 removed barriers to black enfranchisement in the South, banning poll taxes, literacy tests, and other measures that effectively prevented African Americans from voting."

- David J. Garrow, Khan Academy


The Stonewall riots (or Stonewall uprising/rebellion) were a response to a police raid that occurred in the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, at the Stonewall Inn in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of New York City, New York, and took the form of  spontaneous demonstrations by members of the gay community. When the police became violent, patrons of the Stonewall along with other lesbian and gay bars, and neighborhood street people fought back. The Stonewall riots induced a time of exponential change in the transformation of the gay liberation movement and the twentieth-century fight for LGBT rights in the United States, with activist groups being formed along with newspapers created to promote rights for gay men and lesbians.

“Borrowing tactics from the civil rights and women’s rights movements the struggle for gay liberation was organizing across the country in powerful ways. People began creating organizations and making their voices heard. Progress was happening: Minneapolis had already passed a human rights ordinance that protected LGBT people— yes, it specifically included gender identity in 1975. Then in 1993 Minnesota became the first state in the country to pass a human rights act that included protections for transgender people.” 
- Jenkins, Andrea. “Power to the People: The Stonewall Revolution.” QED: A Journal in GLBTQ Worldmaking, vol. 6, no. 2, Summer 2019, pp. 63–68. EBSCOhost, doi:10.14321/qed.6.2.0063.

Gay Marriage:

A year after the stonewall riots, the first gay pride marches took place in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco. Within a few years, gay rights organizations were founded across the world, and today, LGBTQ+ Pride events are held annually in June in honor of the Stonewall riots. Gay marriage in the U.S. started to be legal in 2004, with legislation passed in Massachusetts, and then was fully legal in 2015 with a supreme court ruling. Through cohort and period effect, America went through a generational change regarding the topic of gay marriage, influencing this critical ruling for the LGBTQ+ community (Hart-Brinson). The court stated:

“The Constitution promises liberty to all within its reach, a liberty that includes certain specific rights that allow persons, within a lawful realm, to define and express their identity."

Kids in Cages:

Over the years thousands of children have been arriving at the U.S.-Mexican border. The increase has been so much that the CRF emphasizes the vast amount when stating, “Immigration authorities encountered nearly 18,900 unaccompanied minors at or near the U.S.-Mexico border in March 2021, far eclipsing the previous monthly record set in May 2019.” U.S. authorities have various ways of responding to these arrivals of migrant children from the many laws over the decades, which have sparked much controversy. The Trump administration, especially during the height of COVID, allowed hundreds of children to live in inhumane conditions at the Border Control. These children are also separated from their families and put into holding cells which is where the phrase “kids in cages” comes from. Overall, the presidential administrations over the decades have reacted cruelly in many cases to the arrival of migrant children in comparison with other countries.

"The Trump administration also came under fire in 2019 for allowing hundreds of children to languish in squalid conditions in holding cells inside a Border Patrol station in Clint, Texas, that were designed for 100 adults. The AP reported children had to sleep on the floor, were unable to bathe, and had inadequate food and water. An AP investigation found at the time children were stuck in the Border Patrol station, there were beds available in long-term HHS facilities."

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