Power and Liberation

21 & 22 Ramadan 1443

Its beginning is mercy.
Its middle is forgiveness.
Its end is freedom from fire.

وَتِلْكَ الايام نداولها بَيْنَ الناس

Almost a decade ago, I was invited to speak with organizers and artists who identified as Muslim women AND First Nation, Black, Arab, Pakistani, Indian, West Indian, Biracial.

At some point, I’m guessing we spoke about community work, oppression, liberation. It’s the only way I can make sense of what I most remember.

Because what I most remember is what one of the women said. And I’m not sure now if what I remember is from one voice or many. Or my mind’s voice.

But I remember her. She came to my mind these last few days.

She said she grew up poor. She grew up in the projects. The world she grew up in actively harmed her, her family, her community. The contemporary world was not structured to set her free.

And yet, she said she finally felt free — intellectually, emotionally, spiritually — when she studied history, when she learned that before her people were massacred, captured, enslaved, exiled, colonized, they were queens and kings.

And it was not because it allowed her to imagine herself with power in the world; it was because it allowed her to imagine her capacity for oppression.

Because the work of getting free requires self-reflection and an understanding that power and liberation are not equal.

And I have thought about that for years.

How is it already the last 10 days?

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