To Be Free and Whole…a 4th of July Reflection

Wholeness requires freedom.  There is no way around it.  If we are truly serious about being whole and pursuing wholeness then we must embrace freedom and live into what it means to be free.  Life has taught me freedom, as well as wholeness, is available as long as I am ready and willing to embrace and pursue it.


The irony of writing about freedom just after this country celebrated its independence is not lost on me and I’m sure not on you either.  Freedom is finding its showing itself in all current happenings.  What I find interesting is the hypocrisy inherent in the 4th of July holiday.  A country seeks to be free from tyranny while simultaneously imposing enslavement on Africans in America.  The writers of the Declaration of Independence were both freedom fighters and slave owners.  So what exactly should I, a bisexual identified black woman of faith, be celebrating?  The fact that I live in the land of the free and the home of the brave?  The reality that my black body is seen as property and commodity?  The experiential truth that my flesh is hated simply because of its color?  Or is it that I am celebrating the illusion of citizenship in a pseudo-religious white supremacist patriarchal country that just as soon use me for profit than see me thrive and flourish in this country?

There is no doubt, and in fact I appreciate, the measure of independence I possess in these yet-to-be-United States of America.  I am eternally thankful to my ancestors who survived the middle passage and the cruel institution of slavery.  I am deeply indebted to the of Black women’s clubs and freedom fighters of the early 20th century.  I give honor to the women, men and children of the civil rights movement.  And am grateful for the LGBTQIA persons of color who boldly claimed their truth.  There is genuinely not enough words to express my appreciation and recognition of the ancestors whose blood runs through my body and the fearless and faith-filled persons on whose shoulders I stand on and whose hands I hold to in the continued fight for justice and freedom.

In light of these truths and the recrudescence of blatant anti-black violence, my pursuit of wholeness, including the exercise of my freedom, becomes a both-and exercise.  My wholeness is dependent on my freedom.  Being free gives me permission to be whole.  Being whole requires me to be free.  There is an interdependent relationship between the two.

When I am free to be me then I am free to be whole.  When I am free then I have no other choice but to fight for the freedom of others.  To stand for the right of all to be whole, to pursue wholeness and only when we exercise our freedom that wholeness can happen.  Thus freedom becomes more than a ticket to my personal happiness.  Freedom is the awareness that we are all fighting the good fight to be whole, we are all striving to be free not only personally but in our families, relationships, churches, communities and society.  Therefore pursuing wholeness is embracing freedom and I have come to learn…

Freedom is giving and receiving pleasure
Freedom is loving yourself and others
Freedom is thriving not just surviving
Freedom is doing things that bring you joy
Freedom is to touch and be touched in living, caring and kind ways
Freedom is seeking refuge in order to refuel and get back in the fight
Freedom is allowing yourself to stand for justice in the face of injustice
Freedom is loving your flesh, your beautiful brown/bronze/black flesh in the face of anti-black hatred
Freedom is public and private
It is giving ourselves permission to live authentically in audacious, bold and courageous ways
Freedom is embracing life at the intersection of your identities and loving them fiercely
Freedom is risking your safety for the rights of others to live, love and be in an unjust world that just as soon kill your flesh than provide legalized life-affirming ways to be in this country
Freedom is loving God and living sexually responsible lives
Freedom is forgiving on my terms and not out of some ‘be a good Christian’ duty
Freedom is…

Now that the cookouts are over, the fireworks put away and the extra day off is long forgotten will you give yourself permission live in the freedom given to you as a birthright?  Will you renew your commitment to justice and fight the good fight of freedom for all?  Will you take the risk to be free regardless of what others say?  Will you embrace freedom and wholeness?  Will you be whole?