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Social Justice Blogging, also more broadly referred to as social media activism, is the use of blogging and social networking platforms to publicize a wide range of individual cases relating to social injustice, including racism, classism, sexism and ablism. The influence of online activism on public opinion has grown significantly with the emergence of social justice bloggers. However, the group has been criticized for propagating unreliable information and espousing slacktivism and herd mentality, as reflected in the pejorative term “social justice warriors.”
Social justice blogging seems to have taken off some time in the mid-2000s when several LiveJournal communities dedicated to activism were created. Many of these blogs were localized, with groups at colleges or in a specific city, discussing events that were relevant to that area.
The idea of “social justice” was first proposed by an Italian Catholic scholar named Luigi Taparelli in 1840 and popularized further during the 1848 political and social upheavals that took place across Europe. Fighting for social justice is implemented into the teaches of the Catholic church, the Protestant church and the Green Party. In the late 20th century, philosopher John Rawls popularized secular social justice in his 1971 work A Theory of Justice by stating that every person has equal rights to the “most extensive basic liberty.”
The online presence of social justice blogging on Tumblr is extensive, spanning over a wide range of issue topics from religion, racism and gender equality to ablism, homosexuality and classism among many others. While many social justice bloggers may not explicitly identify their blogs with promoting social justice, there are a number of blogs that provide general discussions on the topic of social justice , including Social Justice Reads, Social Justice Situations, The Social Justice Kids, Why We Need Social Justice, Trigger Warning Social Justice and WTF Social Justice.
Around 2009, social justice blogging began making an impact in various fandoms the communities began to interact on Tumblr and Livejournal. In 2012, the LiveJournal community Fail. Fandom. Anon., dedicated to complaining about cross-fandom problems compiled a list of social justice bloggers who had interfered in topical fandom posts with which they were not aligned. Also in 2012, fans of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic had to deal with an influx of social justice bloggers who found the fan-named pony Derpy Hooves offensive to disabled people.
The concept of social justice blogging been criticized by outsiders of the community as being overzealous and self-righteous. In response to the pervasive nature of social justice bloggers on Tumblr, anti-social justice blogs had begun to surface by early 2011, including Fuck No Tumblr Social Justice Warrior in May 2011, Shit Social Justice Allies Say in May 2012, Silly Social Justice in June 2012 and Fuck No Social Justice Warriors in July 2012.
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Occupy Wall Street
Occupy Wall Street is an ongoing series of protests in New York City and elsewhere across the United States that seek to resolve socioeconomic inequality and influence of corporate lobbying on Washington politics, as well as a number of other social injustices. Mostly coordinated via social networking services like Twitter and Facebook without a central organizer, the flash-mob demonstration began on September 17th, 2011 and its participants have since set up base in Zuccotti Park (formerly known as “Liberty Park”) near Wall Street.
Casey Anthony Trial was the highly publicized murder trial of the mother of Caylee Marie Anthony, a two year old child whose remains were discovered in December of 2008. Casey Anthony was found not guilty of first-degree murder in July of 2011. The event has been called “the social media trial of the century” by Time Magazine due to the record amount of online activity about the case.
Amanda Cummings was an American teenager who was reported dead after throwing herself in front of a city bus in December of 2011. The news of her death became a cyberbullying controversy after her Facebook memorial page “R.I.P. Amanda Cummings” was vandalized with offensive comments on the wall.
Travyon Martin was an American teenager who was fatally shot by 28-year-old George Zimmerman in Sanford, Florida. His death led to a highly publicized murder trial of 28-year-old George Zimmerman.
Bus Monitor Bullying Video is a YouTube video of Greece, New York resident Karen Klein being bullied by a group of middle schoolers while sitting on a school bus in June of 2012. After Internet communities became aware of the video, Klein received a significant amount of sympathy and donations from online strangers.
Amanda Todd was a Canadian teenager who was reported dead in October of 2012. Like other teen suicides, including Amanda Cummings and Mitchell Henderson, her death became the subject of many conversations online about the issue of cyberbullying.
Steubenville Rape Case
Steubenville Rape Case was the trial of two Steubenville High School student athletes who have been charged with alleged rape of a 16-year-old girl from Weirton, West Virginia in August 2012. Due to its highly publicized nature, the case has become a notable topic of discussions on social networking sites and other online communities.
KBURD is an acronym for “’(O)kay, but (yo)u (w)rong doe” that is commonly used by anti-racism bloggers who identify as people of color to dismiss white people who argue against them.
Social Justice Sally
Social Justice Sally is an advice animal image macro series that parodies certain kinds of Social Justice Bloggers who are perceived as being hypocritical or rude.
Check Your Privilege
Check Your Privilege is an online expression used mainly by social justice bloggers to remind others that the body and life they are born into comes with specific privileges that do not apply to all arguments or situations. The phrase also suggests that when considering another person’s plight, one must acknowledge one’s own inherent privileges and put them aside in order to gain a better understanding of his or her situation.
“SJ” Troll Blogs
As social justice blogs became more prevalent on tumblr, there were groups of people who would make troll blogs mocking SJ blogs by appropriating a lot of the politics and misconstruing them. A lot of these blogs would harass people who have been criticized by SJ bloggers for various things in order to pin the blame on SJ bloggers.