Social justice is a hot topic these days and covers a wide variety of issues involving race, gender, age, sexual orientation, income equality and much more. How can you write an essay on a social justice issue that’s engaging, informative, and memorable? Here are six tips you should take to heart when writing:
The quality of your paper depends a lot on the quality of your topic. When you’re coming up with one, take the time to brainstorm. Do a little reading on a topic that interests you to see if any ideas develop. Make a list of social justice issues to find out which one speaks to you. Look at recent news for social justice stories, and see if there’s something especially inspiring. Brainstorming is all about thinking outside the box and considering topics you may not be too familiar with. Take a free online course to get a better understanding of social justice.
Narrow your topic
Once you identify a topic you want to write about, it’s time to narrow its scope. The best essays address specific issues and stories, and avoid generalizing or taking on something that’s too broad. You want your paper to have an angle – a message – so take your topic and write down its different pieces and facets. Depending on the length of your essay, you may be able to get really specific for a short essay, or explore more ideas and concepts with a longer one. By narrowing your topic, you save time on research and writing, because you know exactly what ideas and themes you’re looking for, and can skip over stuff that isn’t relevant.
Have a purpose
Why are you writing this essay? “Because it was assigned” or “Because everyone is writing about social justice” isn’t a good enough reason. By writing about the topic you chose, what are you hoping to accomplish? Are you wanting to bring attention to something that’s been ignored by providing important facts and data? Or do you want to inspire people to get out there and change something by giving them concrete action steps? Knowing your purpose informs the style of your writing and gives you a better idea of who the essay is for.
Highlight your strongest argument
When writing about social justice, you’ll have more than one main point. If you’ve ever written an essay before, you know that some points are stronger than others. Where to put that point is a matter of debate; some people say to put it last so the reader remembers it, while others say it should go in the middle to ground the essay. Whatever you decide to do, your strongest argument should get most of your attention. If you know one of your points isn’t too strong, don’t waste a lot of time trying to build it up in artificial ways or explain why it’s in the essay. Present it as best as you can, and then move on. Spend more time on your strongest argument and read the essay all the way through before sending it off, so you know if the best argument is highlighted properly.
Social justice issues are grounded in reality, and an essay should reflect that. Don’t spend the whole paper being philosophical or hypothetical; present case studies and real evidence that an issue matters. If you’re writing about, say, food deserts, write about a specific food desert in detail and give the reader a clear picture of what living in a food desert is really like. Don’t only give stats on how many food deserts are in America. That’s a dry piece of information and won’t engage or inspire your audience. Whenever you give a stat or percentage, dig deeper and present a specific, concrete example. If you’re giving recommendations for change, find an example in the world where those recommendations have worked.
When you have your essay topic and are getting ready to research and write, think about the possibility of collaborating with someone. Maybe you know of an organization or individual person in your area who is focused on the topic you’re writing on. They can offer a unique perspective and resources you wouldn’t be able to get from a textbook or article, because they actually work in the field. Collaboration can involve getting (and citing) an interview, getting access to specialized research, sharing writing credit, and more. You’ll be able to get an inside look at your topic and dig deeper, which will only make your essay that much better.