What does freedom mean?

I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about the recent events here in the United States, wondering what I could possibly say that would be appropriate or meaningful right now.

And today is the 19th of June, the date in 1863 when Black people in the United States were finally freed from the legal institution of slavery, a practice that endured more than 400 years.

And yet, Black people in this country are still not free from discrimination, hatred, and persecution. I can only imagine what it is like to exist in this country in a Black body; I don’t pretend to know.

But there’s a thread here… of what it means to be free. When I tell people about my childhood, freedom is a big theme; the only time I ever truly felt free was when I was dancing. For me, dance meant survival.

Having a knee on your neck is the opposite of dance.
Being shot for wearing a hoodie is the opposite of dance.
Being afraid to walk down a street is the opposite of dance.

Freedom means the lack of restraint!

Freedom also means the lack of fear about being arbitrarily restrained.

Freedom is a largely continuous experience and it does not stop and start like Morse code dependent on what happens in the periphery of my senses.

When I was a little girl, I understood that when I was in control of my own body, that’s when I was free, in body and spirit.

So, today, I want to honor all of those who have fought for us to feel free in our own bodies. And to honor this day for all my Black friends, heroes, mentors, and students and all those who have fought and continue the fight for social justice and freedom.

I hope that you all keep dancing, even in the hardest of times.

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