A Lifetime Passion for Social Justice Reform

14 Mar A Lifetime Passion for Social Justice Reform

By Barbara Kaplan, Secretary, Board of Directors.

I was exposed to ICAH during my time as a volunteer with For Youth Inquiry (FYI), a performance-based group that offers participatory plays that open the door to safe and engaging conversations about sexual health and sexual violence prevention with youth audiences. My interest in FYI was ignited when I saw the creative tools being used to spark conversations with young people and the adults in their lives. My background in working with young people and their families and our attempts together to try to improve the systems of care in place in their communities is what drew me to not only FYI, but also the Board of Directors at ICAH.  In my time with ICAH and on the Board, I have been exposed to many new ideas, approaches, and people. I have been impressed with the care, concern, and respect for others expressed by all whom I’ve met that are involved in the struggle for social change.

My personal history with social justice reform efforts is long and varied, from college protests, to marching, to aligning myself with groups that supported social justice reforms. Somewhere along the way, however, I was exposed to the idea that to simply “show up” was sufficient. Probably not true then and certainly not true now.

Rather, my time with ICAH has taught me how to be an ally; how to listen, be present and supportive, build trust, and acknowledge the power of language as key for respect and change. I’ve realized that continuous learning is a necessary component to achieve mutual goals–and to carry these behaviors with me wherever I go.  That’s the trick, and I hope to practice it over time.  My new ICAH community offers me a great chance to do so. I’m proud to be a Board Member of ICAH, as it has taught me the power of strong youth-adult partnerships and that change occurs when we reduce stigma and shame and create safe spaces for open and honest dialogue.

As I continue the fight for social justice reform, I am inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s words:

“Power without love is reckless and abusive… Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love.”

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