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This Is Water:

Introduction to Systems of Injustice

Presenter: Shengxiao "Sole" Yu


Date: June 20, 2020

Start Time: 11am PT | 2pm ET


Duration: 90 minutes

Location: Online - link will be shared after registration

Cost: Free

Original artwork by Carol Chan

Workshop Description


In this introductory workshop, we will discuss concepts related to systems of injustice, learn why we must examine our world through a systemic lens, understand how this is relevant to us and why it is urgent now, and have an honest conversation about what doing this inner work means for all of us.


There is a parable about two young fish, popularized by David Foster Wallace. The two young fish are swimming along and they meet an older fish, who nods at them and says “Morning, boys. How’s the water?” The two young fish smile and swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and asks, “What the hell is water?”


We live in social spaces governed by systems of shared ideas and organizational structures that shape our way of life. Among these systems are some that cause harm to many of us, such as racism, sexism, colonialism, homophobia, and more. These systems of injustice are not sharks in the water, they are the water itself.


This Moment

Right now, these systems of injustice are especially salient. Over 370,000 people have died from COVID-19 worldwide, and over 100,000 in the United States. Among them, Black and Brown communities are disproportionally affected, with Black people dying at six times the rate of white people in some areas. Inside jails, prisons, and ICE detention centers, inhumane conditions have created hot spots for viral transmission. Since February, over 2,000 incidents of hate crimes against Asian American have been reported. In 2020 alone, many Black lives have been claimed at the hands of state-sponsored violence, among them, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd.

Many people have protested, petitioned elected officials, donated money, and more. Many are seeking educational resources to challenge and change their own understanding of the world.


This is one such resource.


This workshop is designed with educators in mind, including our school teachers and administrators, but more broadly, including all of us. Each one of us has an educator role to play, and when we challenge and change our own understanding of the world, we also change what happens around our dinner tables, at our social gatherings, in our workplaces, and in our communities.


This workshop is free and open to the public. Please register here.


Following this introductory workshop, we will be offering a 5-week online course to dive deeper into the water. For more information and to register, please visit this page.


For additional resources, Shengxiao will be curating free social justice educational resources on her instagram page.


To be notified about future social justice learning opportunities, fill out the form at the bottom of this page.

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Shengxiao "Sole" Yu


Shengxiao Yu, whose nickname is Sole, is an advocate and social justice educator. She has worked with a variety of groups to tailor social justice education curricula, including community organizers, nonprofit professionals, educators, and beyond. Informed and inspired by the work of indigenous activists, grassroots community leaders, and all the intersectional movement ancestors who have come before her, Sole’s work is grounded in an historical understanding of social injustices at the systemic level, and believes that true, lasting social change will only come from actions that dismantle systems of injustice and work toward collective liberation. Sole is a first generation (technically generation 1.5) Chinese American and currently lives in Los Angeles.

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