Each of us plays an integral part in cultivating empathy, understanding, and a commitment to justice. We carry the weight of injustice together. Join AmazeWorks in acknowledging and unpacking our barriers to taking action with these journal prompts, including reflection questions, quotes, and activities.
Responsiveness and taking action against injustices stems from the fact that, by our nature, we are empathetic creatures. Acknowledging barriers to responsiveness is a key step to shifting our mindsets to one of action. We hope these journal prompts help you engage in meaningful reflection to help cultivate your anti-bias mindset.
Childhood messages about bias and injustice
- When you were growing up, how did adults around you respond to unfairness and bias?
- What did you learn growing up about how you could and/or should stand up to discrimination when you experience and/or witness it? What about now?
- In the community you grew up in, how did people view individuals who advocated for positive social change?
- When did you first become aware of examples of discrimination in your community or the larger world? How did you feel as your awareness and understanding of discrimination towards various identities grew?
- What critical thinking skills did you need growing up to reject biased messages and actions?
Personal identity and lived experience
- How are you exploring your ideas, feelings, and experience of social justice and growth?
- What are your social identities (geographic location, socioeconomic status, family structure, race/ethnicity, gender, etc.)? Which identities limit your access or are targets of bias? Which give you access or benefits?
- In what ways have you developed resilience against harmful stereotypes about yourself or others?
- Think about a community group you are a part of and regularly participate in (e.g., school, workplace, religious group, sports team). What can you do so that everyone feels welcome in this community?
- Write about someone who made a positive impact in your life. How did you meet them, what did you do together, and how did they affect you?
Standing up to unfair treatment and injustice
- Think about a time you stood up to unfairness or bias. How did the people around you respond?
- Think about situations when you decided to take action and when you decided to stay back. What was different about the times you stepped forward versus the times you didn’t? When you took action, what was the result? How did this impact you moving forward?
- What issues or causes do you feel most passionate about? What would it mean for you to take action in regards to these issues or causes?
Quotes to Inspire Reflection
- “We cannot seek achievement for ourselves and forget about progress and prosperity for our community… Our ambitions must be broad enough to include the aspirations and needs of others, for their sakes and for our own.” – Cesar Chavez
- “Action is the antidote to despair.” – Joan Baez
- “Words like ‘freedom,’ ‘justice,’ ‘democracy’ are not common concepts; on the contrary, they are rare. People are not born knowing what these are. It takes enormous and, above all, individual effort to arrive at the respect for other people that these words imply.” – James Baldwin
- “Each of us is more than the worst thing we’ve ever done.” – Bryan Stevenson
- What overt or covert messages are you getting about other parts of the world from TV, movies, video games, social media, and the news? Which groups are receiving positive messages? Negative messages?
- Why is it important to talk about social justice issues? In what way can you critically think about the world through a social justice lens to create positive change in big and small ways?
- If you have children in your life, what can you say to them when they notice and ask about differences in ways that promote empathy, understanding, and the normalization of human difference versus silence and shaming for bringing up the topic?
Turn this journaling into action
- Choose a social justice topic that means a lot to you, and do some research about different approaches and ways to address the issue. Write a letter to a local, state, or national leader about the topic and what you propose to do about it based on your research.
- Research and identify organizations addressing an issue you care about. Volunteer your time, skills, or resources to support these organizations and their initiatives.
- Create artwork or write poetry that expresses your thoughts and emotions regarding bias and injustice. Share your creations with others to inspire dialogue and reflection.
- Start a brave conversation about identity, difference, or bias with someone who holds a different perspective from you.