We continue to share our own thoughts in response to the first prompt (Refer back to The Invitation if you have questions about what we’re doing here).
Libby Smith shares their thoughts on our first prompt: How will you be more human in your professional practice?
I owe some debt of gratitude to adrienne maree brown for inspiring my vision for what Radical (Re)imagining could be. A through line in her work is the liberating power of science fiction. She credits Octavia Butler as her inspiration and this work is on display most beautifully in the collected works of Octavia’s Brood. To create a world we have never experienced (one free of violence, racism, oppression, etc), we must use our collective imagination.
On my website I state that one of my values is collective liberation. I’d like to unpack that a bit in response to the prompt…how will I be more human in my work. In this case, liberation can be defined as freedom from oppression. You might be familiar with the quote from civil rights leader Fannie Lou Hamer, “Nobody’s free, until everybody’s free.” For a long time I viewed this quote through a lens of white guilt, that I was obligated to fight for the freedom of others because of my relative freedom. I can see now how my view was grounded in white saviorism and a kind of moral superiority that my freedom was the kind of freedom that everyone should have.
Another Fannie Lou Hamer quote now seems more relevant to my vision for collective liberation…”When I liberate myself, I liberate others.” Liberation can also mean to release from confinement. My work is to liberate myself, to liberate my heart, from the confinement of capitalism, patriarchy, and white supremacy. Because of these confines, there are a million little ways that we deny our own humanity everyday. When we persist in denying our own humanity we will continue to deny others theirs. Through daily practice I liberate myself: reflective practice (mind), embodied practice (body), and contemplative practice (soul). All three are necessary components of being human at work.
One thought on “Collective Liberation”
One of my big interests is in intersectional oppression theory – and specifically within leveraging privilege, as that is a dynamic that’s not really present in much of the literature. A few articles from a group that tries to leverage privilege of rich people, some minor discussions of leveraging white privilege, but it’s a huge topic that needs to be expanded.
In my own reflection, I have realized guilt is a wasted emotion. I can have remorse for behavior I’m personally responsible for, I can have appreciation for harm others have experienced by the privileged classes I am a part of, but guilt is a way I can avoid taking ownership of things I have no control over – yet have full control over how I use my privilege within those areas. I have a stronger voice as a man to other men than women do when it comes to speaking about sexism. I have a stronger voice as a straight person to heterosexuals than anyone who is LGBTQ+ does in trying to convince people of their legitimacy. It’s a process of being mindful of my life, the groups I am a part of without ever choosing to join them, and how I operate both within them and how I interact with those who are not a part of them.
Liberating self takes a lot of humanizing work, and a lot of processing of life’s complications – as well as the history of choices before becoming more conscious. I figure it’s a lifelong journey, and it takes the willingness to be uncomfortable, the desire to seek out authentic truths beyond myself, and the ability to listen to feedback both explicit and implicit. Thank you for the post!
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