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Are You Free? -- A question for 21st Century Blacks in America (610 hits)

I was asked this question recently in another forum. I hadn't thought about it for a while. But it seems that the economy and other frustrations of Blacks in America have raised a new sense of helplessness -- or lack of freedom -- for many of us. Some among us feel controlled, manipulated, and blocked from achieving their full potential. Hence the question: Are you Free? Let me know what you think. Here is my response.

Many times a question like this is answered philosphically especially among Africans in America. I will try to avoid articulating any philosophy in my response. I agree that there are various ways to view the concept and reality of freedom. Some speak of physical freedom -- to move about without inhibition. Others speak about mental freedom and enslavement, based upon how they think and what shapes their world view. Then, there are those who pose a hypothetical freedom that imposes no constraints whatsoever -- everyone simply does whatever they imagine.

I am an advocate of what I call practical freedom -- the ability to choose one's direction and actions within the constraints that exist. That is because we all live within some constraints -- real and imangined.

So, my answer to the question is "YES, I am free." I describe myself as an independent "thinker, seeker, learner." I constantly strive to avoid being defined by popular culture. The only defining description I accept without argument is that I am an African in America. I borrowed that from W.E.B. Du Bois, and I am comfortable with the African American version. It is obvious to all that I am Black, so that requires no definition. I am able to make that decision because I am free, without the need for further discussion.

Secondly, I am free because I make decisions based on MY best judgment. I am confident in my intellect, and I have overcome the self-esteem issues of my youth. I am not a joiner, nor am I easily influenced by movements, political parties, organizations, or pundits. The organization I am most supportive of that is always at the top of my priority list is my family -- me and my wife, my two children, and grandchildren, two brothers, one sister, and those related to us by blood. I support other organizations, to the degree that I benefit from participation. I am not directed nor defined by any organization. I determine the terms of my affiliation -- to the extent that I can accept their mission and goals.

Third, I am free because I am a learner. I am infected with a contagious enthusiasm for learning. My worldview is informed by the culture I grew up with, and shaped by everything I have learned as an adult. I am grounded by certain values learned from my parents and the nurturing environment of my youth (which I shall not enumerate here). Everything that guides my actions is a result of my values juxtaposed to, and integrated with what I have learned.

Finally I am free because "I AM." I often answer the question, "How are you?" with "I AM!" I don't perceive any lack of freedom, even though I constantly encounter prejudice, discrimination, exclusion, and "structural inequalities" that seem to limit the potential that I have. These are obstacles to be sure, but I am no less free. They only serve to empower me to reach deeper into my reservoir of options -- relationships, knowledge, faith, strength, and ability -- to achieve all that I am capable of. Like every human on earth, all my dreams don't come true. But I am free to reach for the stars nonetheless.

I have not always been free. I recall many years ago when my wife and I traveled out of the country for the first time, we observed certain children who approached us with questions and confidence that seemed to belie their age. We looked at each other and asked, "How is that possible?" We observed that they were still children, not wise beyond any other children we knew, but they seemed so uninhibited in their exploration of things new and different. We were new and different to them. We were not "free" to venture into places unkown to us, as the children we had encountered. It was then that we experienced an epiphany -- the children we encountered were "free' and we were not. We perceived limitations on our freedom based on the experiences of our youth in the South of America. And even when we were not constrained by the real limitations on our freedom, we acted as if we were.

At that moment, we vowed never to be bound or constrained by imagined limitations ever again. We declared our freedom and we have lived unconstrained since. No imaginary chains on us. Certainly, there were no physical chains. I can confidently proclaim that this freedom has brought peace, and unconstrained pursuit of happiness for us.

Thanks for allowing me to share.

Roger Madison
Posted By: Roger E Madison Jr
Wednesday, January 20th 2010 at 9:05AM
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"I have learned never to be limited by someone else's limited imagination and never to limit somebody else because of my limited imagination."

--Astronaut Mae Jemison, first African-American woman to fly in space.
Wednesday, January 20th 2010 at 12:26PM
Richard Kigel
Thank you Irma............Smile
Thursday, January 21st 2010 at 10:15AM
robert powell
Your question is a good technique for engaging in dialog free of assumption. We Blacks in America have an overarching view of our history that divides along the time line defined by slavery and freedom. The demarcation is the Emancipation Proclamation followed by the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to the constituion, and many subsequent laws (Brown v. Board of Education decision, Civil Rights legislation, Voting Rights Act). So, one aspect of the question is whether all these subsequent actions have really freed us from oppression.

The underlying question is "Are we free from the limitations placed on our pursuit of happiness and prosperity, and are we free of many self-imposed limitations that remain obstacles to realizing our full potential as individuals."

My answer to the question is very individual. The author of the question observed that many descendents of our slave ancestors are still constrained by self-imposed barriers to the freedom to be all that we can be. The original context of the question was whether there are still real or imagined constraints on our individual freedom.

I hope this answers your question.
Thursday, January 21st 2010 at 10:43AM
Roger E Madison Jr
I am not free from the limitations placed on my pursuit of happiness and prosperity, partly because of the unshared knowledge that I have obtained. I have out of anger about my daughters death enrolled in this website channel to share and plant seeds. I find it hard to go anywhere without the sense of being followed. This doesn't bother me mentally because I am not a criminal. I have a grievance against those who are trying to narrate my life. I am presently taking a course in psychology because I believe that the same science that has been used to heal the mind is also used in an evil way to destroy peoples lives.
Monday, January 25th 2010 at 6:30PM
Because, I love to force people to think...somethings I always have pat answers for...my favorite is , "some of my friends are Black" ,my reply, "some of my enemies are Black"....end...

Am I Free..."free from what"?!?..end(smile)
Thursday, April 10th 2014 at 6:47PM

Under the Governance of Donald J. Trump .... Silly LYIN trump$ette in charge........YES


8 Years of Governance by the Greatest USA Citizen of All Time President Baraaka Hussein Obama

......Yes I am Free..... in America

BUT at BIA....An African American Family site ......

NO... No ...not free to Write my opinions due to the blags that have NO AfricanAmerican Family MEANING.....

--------- Like....

Trump meeting 'Everything Putin could have asked for' on 07/07/2017 (75 hits)
Maddow to news orgs: beware of forged Trump Russia documents! on 07/07/2017 (50 hits)
Podesta: The President is unhinged on 07/07/2017 (62 hits)
Mike Pence ignores ‘Do Not Touch’ sign on 07/07/2017 (114 hits)

and some guest.....writing that America is an Empire and a Platocratic Pathocracy OR....OR.....JUST

----- fake news racist NONSENSE ..... and stereotypical olde Misconceptions of the past....

Saturday, July 8th 2017 at 9:23AM
robert powell
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