Posted in Liberation

March 2, 2010

Love, Freedom and Community

Part 2 of 2, go here for Part 1

Fire heart

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In her essay, hooks reminds us of the very purpose of struggle as Dr. King himself defined it: “the end is reconciliation, the end is redemption, the end is the creation of beloved community.” She herself states that “we best learn love as the practice of freedom in the context of community.” We are not alone in this struggle, and there is no aspect of freedom that implies the loosening of our accountability to one another, the call to accountability is actually heightened by freedom.

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February 23, 2010

Love and Freedom

Part 1 of 2, go here for Part 2.

Heart Fire

|Photo by LadyDragonflyCC|http://www.flickr.com/photos/19646481@N06/4332176853/|

Love as the practice of freedom has been on my mind these days.  My good friend Cyndi Suarez, who is the co-director of Northeast Action, recently shared a bell hooks essay by the same title – I appreciated Cyndi’s e-mail:

“I was thinking today on just how much social change movements reflect the dominant culture.  I just finished rereading an old-time favorite essay by bell hooks and had to share it with you. I feel it is as pertinent now as when I first read it 15 years ago.  I wonder what would change if at least some of us focused on building love rather power.” Read More

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February 16, 2010

V-Day 2010

VDaylogo1

I know I’m coming late to the party, but I saw the Vagina Monologues for the first time this weekend and I was blown away by it.  Rather than writing yet another raving review of what evidently is a deeply moving work of art, I want to make a comment on the movement that it has unleashed.

I saw the play as produced by MIT undergraduate students who did it in concert with thousands of others around the world – I think it most appropriate to let V-Day speak for itself: Read More

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January 26, 2010

Don’t Get Yourself Isolated

Only Connect

I was intrigued by the title of Mark Danner’s recent opinion in the New York Times, “To Heal Haiti, Look to History, Not Nature.”  And I could not help making a connection to the recent “Che” movie I just watched.  The Cuban and Haitian revolutions took place during very different historical periods, but both victories were a refusal to accept destiny as prescribed by the ruling world order of their time.

And each time the dominant world order responded with the same strategy – a policy of isolation.

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January 26, 2010

Don't Get Yourself Isolated

Only Connect

I was intrigued by the title of Mark Danner’s recent opinion in the New York Times, “To Heal Haiti, Look to History, Not Nature.”  And I could not help making a connection to the recent “Che” movie I just watched.  The Cuban and Haitian revolutions took place during very different historical periods, but both victories were a refusal to accept destiny as prescribed by the ruling world order of their time.

And each time the dominant world order responded with the same strategy – a policy of isolation.

Read More

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November 6, 2009

More on Less is More

Once again, I’m trumpeting the truth that, yes folks, less IS more.

In his July 2005 Ted Talk, psychologist Barry Schwartz takes aim at a central tenet of western societies: freedom of choice. In Schwartz’s estimation, choice has made us not freer but more paralyzed, not happier but more dissatisfied.

Instead of boosting our self-esteem, enhancing the quality of  our choices and promoting self-actualization and civility, this expert on the links between economics and psychology claim is that it yields:

1. Paralysis, not liberation.

2.  Dissatisfaction with the choice made (because the known options make it easier to regret the option you choose against ). Read More

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October 23, 2009

My Prophetic Tradition

In a March 2009 post in their now retired blog, Kitchen Table, Princeton’s Melissa Harris Lacewell (Professor of Politics and African American Studies) and Yolanda Pierce (Professor of Literature and African American Religion) engage in a conversation about the Black Church prophetic tradition.  Other than the work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  it is possible that the recent controversies surrounding the widely respected and widely reviled  Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright have been the ways in which most Americans have even come close to truly understanding what this one of so many beloved contribution of African Americans to social justice, theology and Christianity is all about.

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August 24, 2009

The Gathering for Justice

I just had the unbelievable privilege of facilitating the leadership convening of the Gathering for Justice at the Stone House in North Carolina.  The experience left me with a powerful sense of being “on purpose” of doing precisely what I’m supposed to be doing in the world.  I can only wish that more of us have that experience as we go about our work and our lives.  There is more to say than I could possibly capture with a single blog post, but I’m not speaking in hyperbole when I tell you that this is the closest I have come to the potentiality of real movement.

The Gathering looks at juvenile incarceration not just as an issue, but as moral calling (this article just out today in the New York Times and if you are outraged, be sure to check out CJNY).  Incarcerating our children is a counter-evolutionary move, it is indicative of a systems break down at the heart of our society.  So the Gathering is not just about a compelling issue, it is about a daring to rethink how we go about movement. Read More

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June 17, 2009

Scooter Reflections on Social Media Plus – the Sequel

First things first! We learned last night that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has approved the nominations of Bonnie Jenkins as State Department Coordinator of Threat Reduction Programs (an Ambassador level position) and Eric Schwartz as Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees and Migration. IISC has worked closely with both Bonnie (currently at the Ford Foundation) and Eric (currently at Connect US) for a number of years and send our congratulations! Both are highly qualified and deeply connected to the community of nonprofits working on foreign policy and peace and security. Very good news. Now, onto the full Senate for confirmation!

As for reflections on social media, there’s a new Clay Shirky TED video describing the shifts based on the new forms of media – the ways that new media allows for a whole new many-to-many communication. He gives examples of the ways the Chinese government has tried to maintain control (in new ways). He also talks about the Obama campaign demonstrating a new way of operating – encouraging and allowing for participation on its website even when the views and organizing were going against Obama’s position. Take a look:

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May 21, 2009

Writing a Theory of Liberation

At the 2008 White Privilege Conference, I went to a workshop on Critical Liberation Theory, led by Barbara Love, Keri DeJong, Christopher Hughbanks, Joanna Kent Katz and Teeomm Williams. I was recently re-reading the piece they gave out at that workshop. Their workshop talked about the ways that we can each take daily actions toward liberation. This, they suggested, requires first clearly articulating our own theory of liberation, through which we can then build a praxis of liberation – daily work that brings us in the direction of liberation itself. I was remembering that during their workshop, they talked of the need to know fully where you’re coming from (understanding oppression), but to look forward toward liberation. Otherwise, they described it as if one were leaving on a car trip from Massachusetts to drive to California while looking out the back window instead of looking at the road ahead.

Rereading this, I started trying to think about how to actually articulate a theory of liberation. What would be in it? And I began to see that while I know what I don’t want, the vision of liberation is a little more challenging for me. This, I’m sure, is the legacy of internalized oppression, internalized supremacy and white privilege. The system has put limits on my ability to fully see what liberation looks like, and I’ve internalized these limitations. I know bits and pieces, but a clear articulation seems a bit of a challenge. So I’m making the commitment to start really attending to this in my life, to a clear articulation of my theory of liberation so that I can start taking daily actions toward its realization.

At the same time, I began thinking of Damali Ayo’s piece on five things white people can do and five things people of color can do to end racism. At her workshops on racism, she was constantly getting requests from people wanting to know what they could do. So she sent a request to her mailing list asking people to send in five things white people and/or people of color can do to end racism. About 2000 people responded and she condensed it into a guide (the Fix It Guide).

So I started wondering what would happen if we did a similar thing here – put it out there and ask you: what would be included in your theory of liberation?

Here are some random thoughts from a long plane trip I took yesterday – please add!

  • relationships and society would be demonstrations of fairness and equity
  • sustainability would be demonstrated in all our actions
  • love and compassion would be at the root of our thinking and our actions – and would help guide our creativity
  • all people would be able to fully participate in and have voice about decisions which affect their lives (directly or indirectly)
  • all people would be able to express their full humanity and potential
  • community would be fundamental

What would you add (or subtract or change)?

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May 12, 2009

Shared Liberation

I’m proud of us, we are just getting started, but I’m still proud of us. The IISC staff just wrapped up four facilitated days (over a number of months) on the question of race and oppression and how these affect our organization and our work. The conversation wasn’t always easy and no one believes the rest of the process will be easy either, and yet we know that we are committed and I think that fact came through. We have so many ways of looking at this thing, so many stories, experiences, wounds, reactions, aspirations, hopes, demands and dreams – but there was one thing that was clear, and that’s that we are ready to shift.

I feel like I’ve had such a long and contentious relationship with this topic, like race consciousness helped me to become more free me but it has also been a lens that held me back. I’m still grappling with it, and I’m evolving as it does, but it feels good to do this work in the context of IISC. I know that here we can make headway and wherever we succeed we will be able to give forward to the people that we serve.

I’m looking forward to making the right structural adjustments, and to helping develop a space where we can all do our own work while also tending to the collective that we are. I’m looking forward to doing those things that we know work as well as to finding new approaches that will allow us to innovate in this field. I am looking forward to an expansion of my own heart in this process, to holding the awareness that we live in a social context where oppression still strives while also reaching forward to the liberation that must also become mine.

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