Facebook has been known to create division at times, especially on cultural and political issues. Facebook private groups that are thoughtfully moderated can also provide a space for those who share similar values and goals to find connection and learn from each other. When Erin Schoen Marsh co-founded a private Facebook group, Toledo Moms for Social Justice, she was hoping to provide such a space.
When the group started prior to COVID, Marsh observed that “people were excited to join because a lot of people felt like we did. They were looking for more like-minded individuals, so they could openly talk about things that were affecting them as parents and affecting their kids.”
The online forum provided a community of support during tumultuous times. Making sense of racism, the pandemic, and social injustice can be challenging enough for adults, let alone children. Toledo Moms for Social Justice supports caregivers to become more informed about and engaged in social justice. The group aims to offer a place to explore when and how to have difficult conversations with children about what is happening in the world.
The group’s moderators and members are intentionally diverse. Marsh explains, “It’s not diversity for the sake of diversity, but having people with different lived experiences, whether that’s because you grew up with a disability like me, or because you’re Black or brown or Muslim or Christian or whatever. It’s that we can all benefit from those lived experiences and make us better people and better parents.”
Social justice movements
Learning together about social justice issues throughout the pandemic, George Floyd’s death, and now post-pandemic has meant that the group has evolved. In the beginning, the focus was mostly on becoming more educated. The community created a space where it was okay to make mistakes and to learn from others who have a different lived experiences and can offer a different perspective on language/word choices, issues, historic and current events.
While learning and education on social justice is still an important part of the group, the focus has shifted. Group members request and share referrals to local resources that are welcoming and inclusive. Referrals for community resources include anything from healthcare, schools, or kid-friendly activities. Group members also keep the group informed on opportunities for getting involved locally on social justice issues.
Goals of the Group
- Inclusion, anti-racism, and community
- Learning from each other and each other’s mistakes
- Interacting with parents from diverse racial and religious backgrounds who have different lived experiences
- Providing opportunities to get involved
- Supporting our local community
- Offering a safe space for other like-minded parents to share their questions and concerns
For Marsh, the most rewarding part of being a moderator for Toledo Moms for Social Justice has been the connection, and she has made new friends and deepened connections with others. “I’ve come to really respect and admire the opinions and points of view of the people in this group.”
The Facebook group is open to members who want to connect with and learn from a diverse group of followers who share similar goals. Being a mom or cisgender female is not required. Anyone who views themselves as a caregiver is welcome, as well as those who have students, nieces/nephews or other parenting roles.
The group has grown to 628 members, mostly by referral. Community members can request to join the group on Facebook and answer three questions to ensure a similar commitment to the group’s goals. Find their group here if you are interested in joining the community.