I am flying home after co-facilitating a three day intensive institute on equity and justice sponsored by the multicultural student center at the University of Wisconsin Madison. It was a wonderful and deeply transformative three days with some faculty, staff, and students. I am returning home renewed, rejuvenated, and with a clearer sense of purpose of the work I need to do in the world.
Three days together was a gift. Most trainings are 1/2 or full days—two days if we are lucky. It was a rare treat for me and my co-facilitator, Tanya Williams, and it was a deep investment by the institution in its employees.
What I realized is that this additional day allowed us to work in liberation. Trainings and institutes that are smaller timeframes generally only provide opportunities to understand how we internalize and act out of domination and subordination, but not begin to dismantle it. The third day offered us time to explore what liberation from oppression might look and feel like.
It also helped me remember that liberation is possible. The pain and trauma of oppression in our bodies is so deep and the constancy of injustice permeates our lives that it is easy to be overwhelmed by it all. The system is powerful. But it is not more powerful than we are. I know 50 more people who are testaments to this power.
Liberation reminds us that freedom starts first in our selves and continues with each step, each feeling, and each action. Our collective action, our collective steps, in liberation are a significant energetic force of good.
I want more opportunities to learn, explore, and grow in liberation. But as much as I want to jump into liberation, I have to invest my time in days 1 and 2 first. These days are foundational engagements with how racism, sexism, classism, homophobia, ableism, and christian dominance show up in my thoughts, feelings, and actions, and what I must do to eliminate them from my heart, soul, mind, body, and spirit. It isn’t always easy work, but it is essential. And I can’t get to liberation unless I do.
I am inspired by my time with the faculty and staff at the University of Wisconsin Madison and their individual and collective engagement and actions. While I look forward to returning to my family, I bring with me the hope and inspiration of liberation, and the challenge to keep walking in liberation.
Note: I am grateful for the team at the multicultural student center at UW Madison and their team for their vision and putting resources to action in social justice.
Photo Credit: Noee under Creative Commons.