By Rayna Rogers

Poverty, world hunger, human trafficking, and even lack of education. These are all issues that our world is facing today. Many people across the globe make it their mission to help those who are touched by these problems. Others decide to look the other way, and though some may choose to ignore them, the problems still exist. Civil-rights activist, Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.” This makes it clear that people staying silent about an issue isn’t always the best option. While many may argue that silence is good, it can also be very destructive. To solve the world’s problems, people must take social action. For those who are unaware, social action is someone’s behavior about an issue that is spread to another group or organization. Social action must be used to spread ideas about how we can solve the world’s issues. Once everyone decides on how to approach a certain problem, it can be addressed and dealt with.

Many people today are touched by social injustice, whether it be because of their race, religion, sex, or because of where they live. My sister has, in her life, experienced social injustice. When she was about fourteen years old, she entered a rodeo queen competition, or pageant, where she was treated poorly because she wasn’t a local competitor. During the competition, she tried her very best and worked the hardest that she could. She had the best horsemanship pattern out of all the other girls competing, and answered the impromptu questions with the most thought. Now I’m not just saying this because she’s my sister, but she truly did deserve to win that contest. Out of seven girls competing, the judges placed her last. My sister was gracious and congratulated the winner with her head held high, even though she was hurt. Afterwards, she approached one of the judges and the woman told her that she was “too professional” and then continued to call her “cocky and fake”. My family was floored, but decided to ignore the criticism. That judge had no right to tell my sister that she was “fake,” especially when she didn’t know a single thing about her. Years following, after the contest had received a new coordinator, my sister was informed that she actually should have won, but that because she wasn’t a local girl, they singled her out. That is just one example of social injustice.

Social injustice has played major parts in our history, and still continues to do so. Human trafficking is an issue that people face all across the globe. For example, slave markets are a huge problem in Libya. Because the detention centers are unmanaged and overcrowded, refugees from the Syrian war get stuck there. Smugglers single out these poor refugees and offer them a better life, but when the refugees agree, they find themselves trapped in slave markets.

The slave markets in Libya are just one example of issues facing us today, but they can be stopped. If people come together and use social action, the markets can be put to an end and this can become an example of social justice. The first step that must be taken is government unity. If governments around the world come together to strengthen Libya, the people will follow. That is what social action is, people coming together with an idea and acting as one whole group, breaking through the silence once and for all. Though this is only the first step in stopping one threat, people can start to feel safe again, no longer fearing social injustice.

Rayna Rogers is the winner of this year’s Martin Luther King Jr. essay contest. She is a junior at Sonora High.