Justice and Well-being

We kick off the Winter of Well-being series by focusing on the intersection of Justice & Well-being.

Justice has a deep and inseparable connection to health and well-being. With all that is happening in our world currently, we find it imperative that we start this series by exploring this intersection.

Please be aware that this page contains references to racial violence and other biased actions. 

What are we talking about when we talk about justice?

While multiple definitions and meanings of this word exist, we are approaching this topic in thinking about how we each individually contribute to creating societies that are just, unbiased, and fair. Everyone deserves equal rights and opportunities, including the right to good health and overall well-being. 

What are we talking about when we talk about well-being?

Well-being is a holistic view of all of the variables that impact our condition. Our well-being is composed of many dimensions, including the emotional, spiritual, social, physical, environmental, occupational, intellectual, and financial aspects of our lives. Well-being is something we all possess and something that is in constant flux as these dimensions change. 

At the intersection of these two concepts, long-standing and deeply rooted inequities exist when we look at individual and community well-being across a variety of identities. These inequities are the result of policies and practices that create an unequal distribution of money, power, and resources among communities based on race, class, gender identity, location, and other factors. Positive health and well-being for all is dependent on having a just society.

We are all impacted by injustices, directly or indirectly, and we all have an important role to play in creating a more just society. 

 In this year full of major events, well-being injustices have been unveiled in significant ways. To name just a few…

Systemic racism has been clearly exposed by recent and ongoing racially motivated violence against Black lives — making its way into mainstream dialogue and also seen clearly as the COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately impacted the lives of marginalized individuals and communities, particularly impacting Black, Hispanic, Indigenous, and Asian communities at alarmingly higher rates, all due to diminished social determinants of health from systemic racism. Decades of discriminatory criminal justice policies and practices have resulted in the mass incarceration of primarily Black and Hispanic males to prisons that are now severely impacted by the pandemic. Voting rights across states have been dwindled by laws, policies, and practices that make it more difficult for marginalized communities to vote and forcing many to vote in less safe ways mid-pandemic. LGBTQ+ individuals, already vulnerable to discrimination and violence, face far greater chances of housing, food, job, and medical insecurity through the pandemic…and these are just a few examples of injustices that have been made glaring this year. 

It’s a lot. And it’s most certainly a lot for those directly impacted. This is why it’s critical for those holding privilege to care a lot, to learn a lot, and to do a lot to create change. Our USD mission calls us to work for justice and to confront humanity’s urgent challenges. Hope lives in the power we each have to take actions every day to move the systems in our communities toward justice. 

So what can I do? What can we do?

A critical thing that we all must take up is following COVID-19 prevention measures carefully. The disproportionate way that this virus is impacting marginalized communities calls us all to mask up any time we are around others, stay physically distanced as much as possible, and do everything we can to prevent the spread of this virus. While some may feel unphased by how the virus might impact them, it is important to think about how it will impact others who contract the virus. 


“Our humanity is worth a little discomfort, it’s actually worth a lot of discomfort.” 

Ijeoma Oluo


What else? 

So much else. Some things include:

  • Learn
  • Vote for candidates prioritizing policies that contribute to health equity and engage with those in office over injustices you see
  • Center marginalized communities 
    • Follow, read, listen, share, shop and uplift 
  • Get involved 
    • Explore USD clubs on ToreroOrgs taking on issues you care about
    • Connect with us about ways to foster health and well-being at USD –we’re slightly biased toward this one 🙂 
    • Utilize ASG as your platform for student voice and action. Talk to your representatives about specific concerns or ideas you have within our community.
  • Give time, support, skills, and donations if/as you are able to organizations taking up current justice and/or health and well-being issues.

And don’t give up. Remember that hope lives in our individual and collective unrelenting 

ability to care for and act for one another. 


“Create the change the world needs by creating change within yourself.” – Layla Saad

ALSO, and quite importantly:

Care for yourself. 


“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or if we wait for some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”  -Barack Obama


Questions for Personal Reflection

  • What does justice mean to you? What does well-being mean to you?
  • What is a justice issue that you are passionate about?
  • Envision a fully just and well future society for all. What is different? Describe what stands out to you.

Remember that you can follow Winter of Well-being along on our Instagram, @bewellusd, for more visual information and a great way to share this info with friends. We will be sharing more information soon about some fun opportunities to engage, do collective projects, and of course win one of four $25 DoorDash gift cards we have up for grabs!

Make sure to register to receive emails for the remainder of the Winter of Well-being series to be entered! 


1: Social Justice and Health. American Public Health Association. https://apha.org/what-is-public-health/generation-public-health/our-work/social-justice