“Home should be a place of liberation”

My colleague said this at a meeting yesterday. I first heard it at our conference last year when the incredible Alissa Bierra was talking about Marissa Alexander. Hearing that sentence again stopped me in my tracks. It is so powerful. Especially in light of the story of Korryn Gaines who was recently shot and killed by police in her own home, in front of her five year old son. (On a tangent, did it not occur to the police that perhaps they should come back another time? Does failure to appear in court really warrant a death sentence?)

But back to that phrase. For years in the domestic violence field, we have struggled to say what we want vs. what we don’t want. We don’t want abuse. We don’t want coercion. We don’t want assault. But that phrase is a gift. It is part of our end goal. It is the way.

home should be a place of liberationHome should be a place of liberation. An absence of violence is not enough. You should be treated with respect by those who proclaim to love you (and those who are “sworn to protect”).

Home should be a place of liberation. You can have opinions in your home. You can disagree about things and have a voice.

Home should be a place of liberation. It should be a place where you can be who you truly are. If you are different from your family (for example a gay or trans teen), you should be loved fiercely.

Home should be a place of liberation. That is what I want. For me. For you. For all of us.

Home for the holidays

nanshouseThis is my house. Even though I don’t spend as much time in it as I would like to, it is my anchor, my refuge, my home. I am particularly aware of—and grateful for—it at this time of year. When it’s cold and dark and chaotic outside, what’s inside is stable and familiar. During the next week, my house will be filled with family and friends, too much food, and traditions that define my observance of Christmas and the start of a new year. I will sleep in, watch movies on demand, knit, let my dog break a few rules (e.g., no sitting on the couch), pester my teenage son into multisyllabic conversation, and maybe even catch up on some overdue chores.

I don’t want to over-think this blog post. In fact, I need to take a break from thinking. And if you are reading this, my guess is that you might need a break too. A colleague recently told me that her “head hurts from thinking.” And do you know what? I believed her. Sometimes mine does too.

One of my favorite movement anthems is Sweet Honey in the Rock’s “Ella’s Song” which starts with “we who believe in freedom shall not rest…until it comes.” Actually, we who believe in freedom must rest. Freedom is going to take awhile, and it needs us, and so we must allow ourselves to rest.

Home is where I rest. It is the kind of home that I believe every person deserves to have. Oops, I’m starting to think again.

As we jettison toward 2014, I wish for you the comforts of home, the blessing of rest and, of course, peace on earth.

Leadership

women-graduatingFrom an early age, I always thought to myself that education was “my way out.” I thought it would give me a voice, power over my choices, and freedom. I saw it as a way to equalize myself to boys and men. For the most part, things pretty much worked out how I imagined—I found my voice, I have more power over my choices, and I have the experience of freedom.

But lately I’ve been wondering, what if I focused less on trying to achieve what men have and more on how to develop myself to achieve what is most important to me? What if every girl and every woman did the same? What if each and every community valued educating girls to fulfill their goals?

What would women, as leaders, achieve? How would our communities be different? I imagine a whole new world of possibilities. And I am interested in hearing what you think!