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What Does Freedom Mean To You?

Freedom – the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint.

People want the freedom to do what they want. People want the freedom to be happy, to love who they want, or to follow their dreams. Concepts are fascinating. What is your idea of freedom? Is it simply being free of financial pressure, being able to go on vacation once a year and sending your children off to a good school? I don’t think that’s a bad definition of freedom. It’s interesting to think about how the oppressed define freedom based on the oppressor, or those in power. For example, during the height of Jim Crow segregation, freedom was defined as having the ability to vote and desegregating all aspects of life. We defined freedom as being equal to white people under the U.S constitution. During slavery, freedom was defined literally. Being free from cattle bondage, being compensated for labor, being seen as human. Now, and then, freedom is seen through a white lens. We look at freedom as simply being able to live how white people do. Sometimes I think we define freedom as simply having white privilege. I think we can’t define freedom in our own terms as an oppressed group because we can’t really consider what that looks like. Black people haven’t truly been free for over 500 years. Our ideas of freedom exist within the box white people have created. Imagine white people telling black people they’re free when they’re the same people that created the conditions of non-freedom. We need to define freedom in our own terms and not within the framework created by those who have kept us from freedom.

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