Does Liberation come before Democracy?
What can I say, I am still being affected by the incredible conversation that we had with Professor Bianca Williams. Just to be in a room with such a passionate woman of color who leads by example was intoxicating. The discussion we had on democracy was exactly what my soul needed since I too have very different views on what democracy is and can be. She reminded me, like with the initial institute that I participated in with F.I., that I am not alone in my views and thoughts.
My activism is in direct line with my education. I feel that education is activism. By learning we are bettering ourselves and equipping ourselves with the power that is needed to create change. When Professor Williams showed us her video about the movement she created with BLM, I was immediately filled with admiration. And it reminded me that it doesn’t have to take too many to make a movement and bring about justice. Especially as a woman of color myself, it was liberating to see another woman of color use her power to stand up for those that could not speak.
So, does that mean that liberation comes first? I definitely feel that my liberation has come through my education. The more confidence I gained by empowering my mind, the more confident I feel in speaking up. Although I perform spoken word, that didn’t always mean that I felt confident in myself. My personal liberation helped to me to fight against the stereotyping that patriarchal institutions have given me. It has given me the strength to questions ideologies that are so engrained in our culture; like capitalism and democracy.
Maybe that’s the problem. We are waiting for democracy to liberate us. But the democracy that was created long ago was not created for me. It was not created for a Mexican/Colombian American female. So how can I relate and find my way in a system that was created for someone else? For me, it’s about finding my own liberty. We cannot feel afraid to second guess institutions just because they have a long lineage. And democracy is one of those institutions. I do not feel that our current system is what is needed to create a just society. How can it be? It was made during the time of revolution, slavery, and the beginnings of capitalism, with only the freedoms and liberty of white men in mind.
My idea of change would be with the discussion of what liberation means to us all. It does not mean that those few men did not have good points, but not everyone was sitting at the table. It is not a radical idea to think that something needs to be mended when not everyone had a say, it’s just common sense. When we can come together and make sure, as Ani Difranco states, that everyone is at the “design table”, then maybe we can draw a clearer picture on what democracy really means for an advanced and civilized society.