Building community for joy and education justice

Ring in Justice this Holiday Season

As we find new ways to celebrate with friends and family and soak in all of the light they bring, we will also reflect and show gratitude. Here are four ways to incorporate your commitment to social justice at your celebrations this year.

Give thanks to the Indigenous people on whose land we live, work, play and thrive

Acknowledgment is a simple, powerful way of showing respect and a step toward correcting the stories and practices that erase Indigenous people’s history and culture and toward inviting and honoring the truth. Read more at:

Click the map image below to view a larger version that shows the locations and original names of hundreds of American Indian nations before their first contact with Europeans, as well as where they originally lived across the land we now call America.

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At the start of your meal, give thanks to the land beneath your feet that sustains your home and life, and speak gratitude to the name(s) of the Native Nations who lived in balance with the land before the colonizers arrived. Acknowledge the Native peoples who still live on or near this land, and speak gratitude for their lives.

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 Open your meal with conscious questions

Holiday table conversations can run the gamut, from family in-jokes, to gregarious catching up with relatives, to uncomfortable discussions of political differences. This year, in between “Can you pass the mashed potatoes, please?” and “OK, who is ready for dessert?” consider helping seed thoughtful conversations by asking some of these conscious questions:

  • How do your beliefs about your culture and/or your faith influence what you value?
  • How do these values influence your perspectives on racial and social justice?
  • What’s one moment you’ve had this past year where you felt peace? How does that feeling motivate you to work to bring justice with our family and community?
  • With whom would you like to grow in solidarity this year? How can you deepen those relationships?
  • If you could fix one social problem this year what would it be?
  • What is one commitment that you’re making this year to advance justice?
  • What does safety look like for me? What does safety look like for my community?
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  • How might safety look different for people in my community who hold different identities?
  • What does safety really look like when we require it to be based in our commitment to racial equity and justice?
  • What do I need from my community? What can I offer?

Meanwhile, at the kids table:

  • Did you learn anything new this year about a group of people different from you?
  • Did you read a book or story that made you rethink your ideas about someone or a group of people?
  • Did you help someone this year? How did someone help you? How did that feel?
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Include symbols of justice on your table

Holidays are full of foods, symbols, and objects that convey history, culture and/or religious traditions. From lighting candles and hanging holiday lights, to the foods we place on our tables, we use symbols to celebrate with friends and family, and to pass along stories and values from generation to generation. This year, consider adding some additional symbols of justice to your holiday table:

  • An empty plate – to symbolize all who are experiencing hunger, loss or loneliness.
  • A glass of water – to symbolize the need to protect access to clean water in all communities.
  • A bell – to symbolize a way to pierce the silence in the face of all forms of oppression including racism, anti-Semitism, xenophobia, misogyny, transphobia and homophobia.
  • An affirmation – Joy is joining together, as our true selves, in safety and love. We affirm that all are welcome here. Or make a note on party invitations: “We respect everyone’s gender identity. Please share the name and pronoun (he/she/they) you would like us to use.”

Commit to action

As you ring in the holidays this year, ring in justice as well. Let each chime of a bell renew your commitment to social and education justice. Ring the bell after each sentence: 

  • We commit tonight to making sure that our schools and neighborhoods are places of safety, love and belonging. (Bell rings)
  • We will work to make our community, our country, our world more fair and more just, so across race and place we can all thrive. (Bell rings)
  • We will act on our belief that change is possible. (Bell rings)
  • We will commit to seek guidance from local organizations and communities on where our solidarity can be most impactful. (Bell rings)

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