by, Jilleen Barrett & Anna Woods, Asst. A&E Editor and Asst. News/Features Editor
During an election year like no other, the Manhattan College community has found itself confronted with many issues related to social justice. While some watch society change, others try to be the change, and use home decor to prove it.
Caroline King, a sophomore international studies major, has found an artistic outlet in decorating her room with social justice themed posters. She lives in a single dorm in Horan this year and finds herself continuously ordering new decor from Etsy and HomeGoods to fill it with.
As a women and gender studies minor, her main focus is on feminism. King walked around her room using FaceTime to show off the many feminist-related posters, printed-out tweets from feminist-based accounts, girl power mugs, books and more.
King said her mother and high school English teacher educated her on what it means to be a feminist.
“Definitely from a young age, [my mother] always taught me to be self sufficient and she pointed out injustices towards women like ever since I was little,” she said. “So I feel like I’ve always noticed how women were treated differently, and I’ve always been passionate about it since I was young.”
She cited that there are several world leaders who inspire her to continue pursuing women’s rights, including Michelle Obama, Alexandra Ocascio-Cortez and Roxane Gay.
Isabel Frazza, a sophomore religious studies and peace and justice studies major, feels the same way about her decor. Geared towards LGBTQ+ pride and the Black Lives Matter movement, Frazza feels strongly about equality and activism.
“I’m passionate about social justice and making society a safer, more peaceful and loving place for all,” she wrote in an email. “My living space reflects my passions. It’s incredibly important to me that my friends (less so now because of COVID-19, not many people see our room) but mainly my roommates feel safe and welcomed in our space. The decor is encouraging and inspirational.”
Darby Shea, a senior English and peace studies major at the college, wrote that she owns many pieces of social justice decor and likes to change what she has displayed every year. She noted that she has postcards and posters that have phrases such as “Make Art, Not War” and “Love Your Neighbor, Love the Earth.”
“I have a lot of posters about peace and nonviolence because I am, in most cases, an advocate for pacifism,” she said. “As we have seen in our current cultural moment, however, it is clear that true peace and nonviolence is not possible until there is justice, which brings me to caring very deeply about the BLM movement and supporting those causes.”
She supports actions to improve the state of the environment as well.
“I also care deeply about environmental issues and environmental justice, which is why I always hang up my love your neighbor love the earth poster,” Shea said. “There is no social justice without making a conscious effort to save the environment, and vice versa.”
Social justice decor is not limited to the dorms, though. Political science professor Pamela Chasek, Ph.D. decorated her office in Miguel Hall with her own social interests in mind.
Chasek is interested in social justice for the environment, and she shows that with the decor she has in her office. On the walls surrounding her workspace are posters, including one listing the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals. She also has many photographs she took herself.
“So most of my office right now has a lot of my own photography,” she said. “There’s a lot of climate stuff from the climate strikes. That’s all over my office. Last fall, we did the climate strike so we were going to continue them in the spring and then COVID hit, and then we did the shoe strike for climate justice earlier this semester.”
Chasek shared that her overarching theme of sustainability is one way to make her office comfortable and inviting.
“I would say most of it is trying to create a space in my office, that not only is sort of comfortable and welcoming, but also expresses my interest,” Chasek said. “So all of my photography that’s up there, which is nature photography, fits into that bigger, sustainable development context as well. So I think that’s where I see social justice within that bigger framework, that it all comes together. So care for the planet, and care for the people who live on the planet.”