Since its founding, America is and has always been a country obsessed with sorting people into specific categories. These categories, most notably race, were often created and emphasized to exclude people from enjoying certain privileges if they did not fall into the “white” category. Whether it’s through your race, gender or sexuality everyone is still categorized in one way or another. This strange sorting habit has created deep seeded social issues that can only be resolved through leadership.
A personal example of America’s obsession with boxes is how my mixed race has often brought confusion to myself and others. My mother is white while my father is black and as a result I was a mix of the two. However, my birth certificate states that I am an African-American even though I am 50% white. Growing up, I found it hard to find a specific group to fit into and there was always immense pressure for me to literally choose whether I was “more black” or “more white”. Upon meeting someone new, My 4 mixed siblings and I are often asked “what are you?” To me, this wish to group a stranger into a race seems related to early Americas need to decide worth through group affiliation. My foot did not fit perfectly into Prince Charming’s fragile glass slipper or even completely into the peasant’s straw sandals. To the confusion of others, I’ve lived my life walking around barefoot.
From social inequality comes a need to establish change. This change comes to us the form of the term “social justice”. Social justice describes a society where certain groups of people are not excluded from having the same resources, opportunities, and wealth as others because of who they are. As social justice has become increasingly sought after by American citizens, the need for leaders to help foster a society without exclusion has increased.
The relationship between leadership and social justice is characterized by the need for social change. To change the deeply embedded systems of inequality in American society, there must be a considerable amount of citizen collaboration. Social change leadership is a leadership style that focuses on creating citizen leaders who will commit themselves to producing fundamental change through collective collaboration with other like minded citizens. This is one method of leadership that is specifically used to create long-lasting social change rather than produce short-term results.
It is important for people to apply this method of leadership because society is complicated and there is no one simple solution for dismantling complex systems where social inequality is still widely present. Tackling this complex issue requires dedication and collaboration from people who are driven to look beyond their own worlds to put forth an effort to make contributions to society as a whole.
While Leadership is a response to the increasing desire for our society to become socially equal, I believe it is important to note that leadership styles are modified by the times and goals of the people. For most its existence, America has fostered classification systems that decide an individual’s worth and access to various resources. This unfair treatment of people within a society created a need for change and thus created a need for leadership.