(Editor's letter from Shameless issue 23, The Justice Issue. Originally published in Shameless magazine. )
I can’t remember the first time someone told me that “life isn’t fair,” but I know that I’ve heard it too many times to count. It’s hard to remember a month in my adult life where I haven’t had it said to me, and, in the process of sitting down to write this letter, I realize that it’s entirely likely a month hasn’t gone by when I haven’t said it to someone else.
When I reflect on these three words and unpack their implications, I can’t help but feel uncomfortable with how many of us talk about fairness and how we understand our relationship to justice. “Life isn’t fair,” means that we understand right and wrong, that we understand justice, but that we have also grown to accept the sad reality that our day-to-day lives are often affected in ways that are inconsistent with these values. The statement suggests a push for complacency and acceptance, because that’s just how things work.
I am tired of hearing these words. I am tired of saying them, too. Yes, life isn’t fair, but also: yes, itshould be. And: yes, we can imagine a fairer world when those three words are used to start a conversation, not end one.
We hope to start that conversation with this issue of Shameless. In it, we ask important questions about our justice system and whose interests it serves (p. 18), we advocate to replace systems of punishment with those of community-led restoration and healing (p.28), and we provide a breakdown of how to affect the laws that affect us (p. 24). We challenge the policing of our classrooms (p. 10), our bodies (p. 13) and our closets (p.40), and we explore justice as it relates to the environment (p. 16) and our access to food (p. 38). With this issue, we hope to start a conversation about justice that can be used to challenge a culture of complacency and, in turn, fight for a fair and just world.