Show up and be present. Show up and care. Show up and speak. Show up and love. Show up and hug. Show up and be human. I used to believe that the experience of privilege in the context of oppression made us less human. I don’t believe that anymore because we are always human and we can never not be. The experience of privilege and oppression tricks our minds and wounds our heart. Injustice is injustice—privilege or oppression. When one experiences an injustice, it shapes how we see the world, how the world sees us and how we see ourselves. I used to be devoted to fighting for justice. I believed I needed to rage against every injustice across race, gender, class, sexual orientation (my big four). Then I re-connected with liberation.
During my two-year intensive with a social justice education program, I was fortunate to have been in the presence of a truly liberated human being. She was the only one who understood me, she saw all that I was and embraced it. Upon arrival into the master’s program during our first weekend on exploring Sexism, I triggered both facilitators. It culminated with one bursting into tears and the other yelling at me with intense anger. My mentor was the only faculty member who saw the many facets of the situation– one being that I was just a student who had triggered the facilitators.
The first rule in facilitating is know your triggers. Well, from there I knew I needed to be around here and soak up all that I could. Dr. Barbara Love is her name. We all need a Dr. Love in our lives. Dr. Love is wise, passionate, and embodies all the great change agents of our time and beyond. Dr. Love helped me acknowledge the hurts and the pains that I had. I didn’t know it was ok to be a change agent and acknowledge my own hurts, pains, scars, and burdens. It was only thru this recognition that I was and am able to truly do this work.
Back to liberation—can you imagine a world with plenty, a world where there is no injustice only justice, a place free from pain, hurt, and only love, celebration and rejuvenation. This question of, “can you imagine…..” makes transparent an important point that I want all you change agents and justice heroes to sit up and make note of. When you fight against something with all your heart, you must give yourself and others what is on the other side of it—liberation, love, freedom, humanity.
For example, I read some where that Iowa was the second state to pass gay marriage because they set out with a strategy. These Iowan activists started having dinner with straight people and little by little the straight people realized that the gay people were just like them. We have spouses, children, want good healthcare, buy homes, want decent schools for our kids. You see this dinner strategy, gave straight people a glimpse of what the passage of gay marriage looked like and what it meant and what it didn’t mean for the whole community.
I remember in Massachusetts when it passed, the very day it passed my straight colleagues didn’t think I was so different from them because now I could get married. I was more “normal” more similar and not different.
Ok so embodying liberation, whatever your is, means considering how it feels to live free of your hurts, pain, chains, whatever holds you back. That is your liberation. It can be hard to imagine and can take some work but practice. Remember you are running a marathon not a race and you can’t go back and start on mile 5 even if now you can run it faster and better . You run the best you can with each step you have.