Why Social Justice Matters, and What We Are Doing

TechBridge director of social justice Samantha Sanchez discusses the organizations work in social justice.


Samantha Sanchez:

Social justice is as big as the ocean. Um, it just has so many facets and it's so deep. And when we start to say well, because of those things, we're not going to treat you equally. That's when social justice answers that call.

Adam Walker:

Social justice is a topic on all of our minds, whether we're thinking about an issue close to home, or in other parts of the country, we can all agree.

There is work to be done here. Tech bridge works in social justice through our products like justice server, but also by providing technology and services to social justice organizations. And because social justice is one of our four core pillars on the path to eliminating generational poverty. We're excited to announce that we are hosting a nap.

Social justice summit. This fall, this summit will be MC by Samantha Sanchez. Tech bridge’s Director of Social Justice and we'll feature an impressive lineup of speakers and leaders in the social justice space.

My guest on the show today is Samantha Sanchez. Samantha, welcome to the show. Well to start out, I want to hear kind of your story, uh, all about sort of what you do, what you're interested in and a little bit about your own social justice.

Samantha Sanchez:

Yeah, sure. I'll again, thank you for having me. Um, so I'm sitting at the Sanchez, the director of social justice with Techbridge, which is an amazing role to have.

Um, I'd say that my justice journey began. It is young, as I can remember. Um, my mother was a union president at the local chapter of the IBE depu that international brotherhood of electrical workers. Um, because of that journey with her, I got to go to, um, different locations, uh, different friend's houses, who were people that look different than me.

And so between that and, um, having a Hispanic grandfather. I ended up having this sort of bubble develop around me that said, uh, people who look different than you are completely normal. Um, I bring in the fact that I have a family in military history, and I know sometimes I can go either way, way as to whether or not, um, what side of social justice that will lead you to.

But in our case, um, my family was very accepting and you know, these were your brothers in arms. And so all people were equal. And because of that, Even though I was in south Alabama, I was sort of blind. I'll be honest, blind to the differences around me. And it wasn't until I got older. And I, I developed my friend group that I spent the most time with that some of them would, you know, know that I had a lot of friends who were of color and not in a negative way by any means.

But what I think it did was. Set up this boundary around me that said, if you have something not nice to say about people who are different than you, um, you don't want to say it in front of her. And so, um, it wasn't even until I was older and, and really my eyes got open to, um, th the struggles that people were going through that others didn't see things the way I did, which is that, you know, all people are created equal.

And so. As I started to realize that it, I got kind of annoyed and mad because I was like, why not? Like your logic is not, there's no logic there. Um, people are created equal and should be treated that way. And so I'd say that's where my sort of passion for it came. Um, it wasn't until I started studying community development in Vanderbilt, that I started to put some academic knowledge behind it and start to really understand different ways that I could contribute to social justice improvements.

And so, um, it was a blessing to be able to go to that college and let my course of study be how to make the world a better place through community development. Um, and then I'll say that the thing. Probably brought me the most closest social justice, um, was when I was 31. I was diagnosed with, um, a disability that now protects me under the Americans with disability act.

I have type one diabetes. And, uh, my, my life changed with that diagnosis and all of a sudden, um, I started needing protections that come under that planning. And that's when it really told me that, um, you know, government intervention and really making, um, things that. Do create, uh, a difference in people such as a disease versus not having a disease.

Um, not only are those of us with disease, for example, um, still wonderful, capable human beings that deserve to make a difference, but also, um, without protections, we could be discriminated against to the point where we're not even able to make, to contribute to society. And that's, that's just a no go in my book.

And then I'll just add to that, that, uh, that's where tech bridge really comes in though, because, um, with my diabetes, I started wearing an insulin pump and a continuous glucose monitor, and all of them are technology-based. My continuous glucose pump, uh, tells me my blood sugar on this cute little blue device here.

And then I use that information to plug it into my insulin pump. So tell me how much insulin I need whenever I eat, or if my blood sugar is just acting wonky. And so, um, I really became a humongous fan of technology when it started being a lifesaver for me. Um, and so much so that when, uh, I heard about tech bridge, what we do here, I was like, I'm all in.

Let's go.

Adam Walker:

I love that. I love that. And that's great. And you're right. You know, technology is just so important. It's so many. Different levels. And I think we're both proud to be a part of that. So, um, so let's talk a little bit about social justice. It's a, it's a big topic. It's a, it's a, it's a very meaty thing.

So how, how would you sort of begin to define it and how would you talk about, like, why is it so critical? Why is it so important, especially at this particular juncture in time?

Samantha Sanchez:

Absolutely. Yeah. The phrase I use is, um, social justices, as big as the ocean. Um, it just has so many facets and it's so deep and, um, there's no way to explain it sort of in one cute sentence that makes everyone understand.

Uh, so the easiest way that I think about it is really the distribution of goods and, um, how those are distributed to people who, uh, have something that makes them. Quote, unquote other. So, um, for example, I give you the example of, uh, ADA, someone with diabetes, uh, there may be jobs that say, well, we're going to discriminate against pers a person with a disability.

And so we're going to take that resource and not allocated equally, even if the person has all the other, um, The things in common with someone else, they just happen to have that disability. And so for me, when we talk about not only jobs, but there's so many other resources that we need in this world.

And when they're held back based on things that often are persons let out totally out of their control. I had no control over type two type one diabetes. Um, people, no control over what the color of their skin is, where they're born. And when we start to say well, because of those things, we're not going to treat you equally.

That's when social justice answers that call because we say no. W every human has value exactly as they are, and resources need to be distributed to us, whether or not it is a third protecting those resources. Like the ADA protects, you know, people with disability, getting jobs to eliminating discrimination in housing, such as when red line red lining was removed from, um, housing.

And so. Then, if you pause there as social justice to say, let's distribute the resources equally. Now let's look at the effects these things have had and how do we make it right? And so when thinking about housing, even today with, um, people giving out mortgages based on redlining, people of color are less likely to qualify for a mortgage because of you can just follow the lines of the red lining that came down from.

Um, and just so people know, so lining is a historic item where, uh, people of color were discriminated against, um, in the ability to get housing based on, uh, the areas they occupied. And those areas would often be outlined in red for mortgage providers. Um, that's just a little backup in case anyone needs it.

Adam Walker:

So I'm, I'm curious, as you mentioned, Social justice is as broad and as deep as the ocean. And I fully agree. And I would say that the need for social justice has become more and more visible recently. Um, yeah, I feel like there was a time when it was a little less, less visible to some people. Uh, maybe not to some, maybe not to others, to people that grew up like you did, but certainly.

And now it's more in the public square. Can you talk a little bit about that and sort of what that means?

Samantha Sanchez:

Yeah. And I have my answer goes with what people would think, but I would actually argue a little bit that social justice ebbs and flows. Um, it's when the topic is high at hand that you see the most work done toward it, but then you will often see period to time where, um, we say as a society, Oh, we made some strides in that.

Um, so we don't need to worry about that for awhile. And we see, um, that happened is currently happening to us again. And the example I'll use is voting. Um, voting rights were established in the 1965 voting rights act, um, where it was doing protections of all people to be able to vote well. Okay. We're good.

Right? Because we've taken care of that. And when our attention moved elsewhere, We saw that, uh, some, some changes started to be made at the state state level changing how voting rights were affecting people, especially people of color. Um, and so all of a sudden we have an election that people, uh, some people decide was, uh, no, The way they wanted it and you see the downright attack on the voting rights act.

And so all of a sudden, again, it's back in the spotlight, but if you'll think about it, it was also in the spotlight in 1965, right? When that voting rights act was passed. Um, another example with the brutal murders of, um, especially black men, but also black women of late. Um, that's not a new thing.

Unfortunately, that's something that has been happening, you know, for years. And we can go to statistics and documentation around that. And what I would say is the first time I ever heard of that was the Rodney king beatings back in the 1990s. And so it had that attention. Then again, attention changes.

And here we are. Um, it feels like in 20, 19, 20, 20, 20, 21 repeating the same cycle. And so, um, social justice is always an issue and it's one that we don't keep a national spotlight on it at all times. We're gonna watch, um, any strides forward, we make, start to recede. And so the question is, uh, To me, how do we change that?

How do we keep from making two steps forward and one steps back toward anything social justice related?

Adam Walker:

Wow. That's, I mean, that's a really, really good point. I appreciate how you sort of drew in past history with, with current events to help sort of, sort of showcase that. So, so that's a really, that's actually a really good segue.

We need to keep a national spotlight on social justice. Tech bridge has recently announced that we're doing the work. We're creating a national social justice summit, and you're going to be the emcee for that, which is going to be amazing because you're, you're a wonderful person in front of a crowd. So tell me all about that.

Give me all the data. Yeah,

Samantha Sanchez:

absolutely. So except for November 4th. And as of today, it's a hybrid event. It is one where, um, if you're on the west coast and can't make it to Atlanta, we'll where we'll be in person. We're still going to be able to have you participate in. By watching, um, a recorded feed from that morning and staying up to date with live viewings as well.

And our topics that you're going to be able to hear about our voting rights, as I just mentioned. Um, you can see that that's a hot topic right now. Um, but also eviction. Um, again, I brought housing up as well. Um, two extremely hot topics right now, and both ones that we have seen technology make a huge difference on.

And so we wanted to highlight that data and technology can be game changers when, um, handling the eviction crisis that COVID-19 has heightened, not created, but heightened, um, Voting rights act. How have people been able to use that to fight back, um, when voting rights are being removed. And so we're gonna have amazing speakers on these topics who really know a lot about not only how to work with the data that comes out and use it to make differences, but who also know about the technology behind that?

And we'll be able to explain to people, um, not why technology, you know, uh, let's code it, but instead, uh, how you find the right people to implement it for you, how you teach them, um, what you want to know and then how you manage the information you gain going forward. And I'm so excited about that. Um, as of right now, we are planning on having, um, Stacy.

Be our keynote, um, to talk to everyone about voting rights and, um, no need to explain what an expert she has on that topic.

Adam Walker:

No doubt. Yeah. She's amazing. She's amazing

Samantha Sanchez:

audience for this event is not just the social justice advocates, but it's also, um, corporate folks. And the reason behind that is because they are often the suppliers of the technology.

Um, in order for us to collect these important. About how we, um, changed society, right? So we want them to understand the value of these things, to the social justice advocates. And we also want to hear from them how their corporate lives have changed now that the spotlight is so strong on the social justice movement across the

Adam Walker:


Hmm. I love that. I love that. So it sounds like you're bringing together, I mean, really lots of different groups of people at a national summit to really talk about the big issues. That we're really dealing with right now among social justice. Is that just to make sure I got all that,

Samantha Sanchez:

right? No, you're exactly right.

Um, but I will say we drilled down to two really hot topics today. Um, because if we wanted a summit that would cover the entire social justice, that would take up, uh, probably all of your 20, 22.

Adam Walker:

Yeah. I laugh, but that's a sad statement really. Uh, it really would take up all of our time, but, but again, you know, to your point, we've got to focus.

The pressing issues of our time in those two are really, really big ones right now. So. Wow. That's amazing. Any, is there anything else you'd like to share related to the social, the national social justice?

Samantha Sanchez:

I would just say to sign up now, and if you feel safe and are willing to travel to Atlanta, join us in person to hear from these voices directly in the crowd and network with your fellow advocates, you can be there.

Um, we're doing our best to, um, ensure everyone can join. So there will be accessibility features. Um, so you want to make sure that if you're like me or a social advocate who, um, has bringing something to the table with you then, um, that you're still going to be able to participate fully. And then, um, you just can't say enough about being in the same space as the people who know the same thing.

So that's how collectives are built and that's how we press collective action. Um, and that's how we learn from one another, in order to say, that's working for you. I think that could work in my state too. So, um, it being there in person, if you feel

Adam Walker:

safe, I totally agree. I think being in the same room has a lot of power.

There's a lot of energy in it and there's a lot of ability to, to build upon what one another do. Um, also, if you, if you do want to sign up, if you want to get a, get your ticket, make sure to go to tech, bridge.org and look for the events, link on the website to get your ticket today. That's tech bridge.org.

So Samantha, as we're wrapping up, I'm just wondering, you've shared a lot of really, really good information with us today. Do you have any final thoughts related to social justice or the convergence of technology and social justice that you'd like to share?

Samantha Sanchez:

Yeah. So if for whatever reason, you're not able to make the summit, I would say, please do go over to tech, bridge.org and check out our social justice offerings.

Um, you know, we're really well known for our product justice server, which is a case management and pro bono. Um, but we also have a lot of other offerings to help you with program management, um, to help you with communication, uh, data collection. And overall, that's really important to us at tech bridge because we want to build steps that lead to predictable pathways out of poverty.

And so when a, whenever other nonprofits are able to collect data and share it, um, communicate with each other and work together. We're doing just that. And one day we're going to have the blueprint that we can implement in order to make sure that all persons are able to access those resources equally and equitably, which is, you know, my goal for social justice.

Adam Walker:

That's it? That's, uh, that's absolutely our goal. So again, as a reminder to our listeners, visit tech bridge.org, to find out all the different ways that we can support you in. Your effort to, uh, support and grow and help with social justice and especially look for the nonprofit, not, not the nonprofit.

Sorry, the national social justice summit event on the website and RSVP today. Samantha, thank you so much for joining us on the show today. It's been amazing.

Samantha Sanchez:

Thank you so much, Adam.

Adam Walker:

Thank you for listening to tech bridge talks a podcast about breaking the cycle of generational poverty through the innovative use of techniques.

This podcast is produced by tech bridge to find out more about our work and how you can be a part visit tech bridge.org that's tech bridge.org. Also make sure to follow us on social media. Thanks again for listening and tune in next week for more great content.