free•dom [free-duhm] noun-
1. the power to exercise choice and make decisions without constraint from within or without; autonomy; self-determination.
2. the power to exercise choice and make decisions without constraint from within or without.
3. civil liberty, as opposed to subjection to an arbitrary or despotic government.
I don’t feel free.
As an African-American woman living in the United States of America, I don’t feel free.
As an African-American woman who identifies as a traveler, intellectual and food enthusiast; I don’t feel free.
As an African-American woman who is socially radical, spiritually developing and financially burdened; I don’t feel free.
As a human being living in 2010 where low-income folks, people of color, women and queer folk are unfree; I don’t feel free.
But I want my freedom…and like some say, “Freedom isn’t Free.” Like the roots in the image above, I want to be able to grow without physical or mental barriers. I want to feel free to make choices, I want power and I want self-determination.
So how will I get my freedom? Good question…right? I’ve been thinking A LOT about my freedom and how to get more of it. Until recently I didn’t think about my freedom very much. Why would I? My thinking was: Black folks are no longer enslaved, women can vote and hey I have a couple of fancy degrees.
Makes sense at first glance. Upon further reflection I realized that I felt powerless, I was not exercising self-determination and was just plain miserable. I was finding very little joy in my paid gig and constantly finding other ways to stay engaged in “the movement.” I would go to every protest, rally, meeting that I could. I taught at a local University. Worked with local youth fighting for the DREAM ACT. I maintained relationships with my former colleagues at one of the largest non-profits focusing on grassroots organizing in the country. I found family amongst those fighting for the most basic human rights across the country. I had amazing opportunities to sit in meetings and soak up MAD knowledge with some of the most prolific leaders in the larger social justice movement. My mentors in D.C. were mentored by Dr. Dorothy Height. I’ve been blessed.
But I still didn’t feel free.
So I made a decision.
Don’t talk about BE about it.
Next month I am headed to Haiti to connect with local people and organizations engaged in the long-term re-building of Haiti. I’m a social worker/organizer educator, why not go where my skills can be used? Why not go somewhere where my ancestors were once left in bondage? Why not go somewhere where there is much resiliency but also vulnerability? WHY NOT? I will spend a week traveling to Cap-Haitien and Port-Au-Prince, Haiti meeting with local organizations working toward re-building a stronger and freer Haiti. After that, I’ll come back and plan for a 6-9 month stay. What good is freedom when others are not free?
Where did I get this idea?
Like many folks I watched the images of the January 12th earthquake in Haiti. I weeped at my desk looking at pictures of dead children. I was angry that such a thing could happen in a country already facing a number of political, economical and physical challenges. I texted YELE! I think I even texted the Red Cross. I tweeted, gchatted and facebooked until my fingers were tired and my heart was too heavy. In the process I forgot about the lack of coordination amongst NGO’s. (Non-Governmental Organizations). I forgot that the Red Cross left Hurricane Katrina survivors dry. I forgot that money can’t and has never solved all problems.
What does THIS have to do with freedom?
This journey is pretty much 50/50 for me. 50% of my decision to relocate to Haiti has to do with my own freedom. I need a work environment where I can use my skills, learn new things, develop as an organizer/educator and just do what I’m most passionate about. What am I most passionate about? Well that’s the other 50%, I am most passionate about helping others empower themselves through education and positive self-development. I can’t give the Haitian people their freedom, no one can. Only they can attain that for themselves. My journey to and through Haiti will not be glamorous, cute or easy. I will most likely set high expectations and not meet them all, but that’s OK.
I turned 25 years “old” today. I am a QUARTER of a CENTURY! This just feels right. It feels right on time. I prayed about it and received confirmation. MOST of my friends weren’t even surprised that I would cook up something crazy like this. I refuse to spend my 25th year not actually using what I’ve learned and also learning things I’ve never even fathomed. I refuse to find myself crying out of frustration because I know I can do more and should do more. Beliefs should be turned into actions. I believe in human dignity and I believe that I have a role in achieving it for us all.
I believe in Freedom…Love and Justice. In fact, I might die still seeking all three.
I’ve been avoiding the whole blog thing because of the commitment and self-exposure. I guess it was finally time. I started the Freedom Pages to express my thoughts about the world as it is and the world as it should be. The Freedom Pages will expose my views on politics, culture, food, activism, organizing and traveling. I am in the pursuit of freedom, love and justice, I welcome you to come with me as I evolve. I hope you enjoy what you read, and promise only to be as honest as possible. Hopefully I’ll even agitate you to find your own freedom.
At the end of the day…I just want to serve and be free.
Want to help me get to Haiti?
Please visit my donation page at http://nvrcomfortable.chipin.com/1st-trip-to-haiti. All donations will support flights, housing, food and supplies for this trip. No amount is too small!