L I B R E - AKA - F R E E
Last Wednesday was the USA's independence day.
It was a day of celebration for independence and freedom. Here at FULL Collective, we are joy and justice driven - we know that for some it was a day to celebrate the freedom they get to live in daily. For others, it was a reminder of the lack of freedom they have - whether it's because of the color of their skin, their immigration status, their home situation, their socio-economic status, maybe they're a labor or sex trafficking slave, or live in another form of bondage. So yes, for some it was a day to celebrate, but it was also a day for ALL to remember that America is not the land of the free for all people, but it is the home of the brave.
It's the home to so many brave people that fight daily. It's the home to those brave souls who fight for the rights of others. It's the home of the brave advocate, social workers, lawyers, doctors, case managers, teachers, pastors, activists, and so many more folks that choose to show others how much they matter through their work. It's the home of the brave person that walks around this land knowing it doesn't love her/him back but still chooses to invest in the finances, communities, and development of America. The brave person that recognizes that fear is lurking and that they may be harassed, killed, mocked, assaulted, or targeted simply by how they look - whether because of their skin tone, their demeanor, their gender, their hand gestures, or anything else people choose to focus on these days over actual their humanity.
This past week I was in Cuba. It was the 26th country I've visited and there is little-to-no American influence there. THAT WAS A FIRST! Out of all the countries I've traveled to, I have never witnessed such disconnection to American culture and way of being - and I wasn't mad at it at all. It was challenging but it was a true breath of fresh air. So many dark-skinned Cubans came up to my husband and me - screaming in the excitement that we were there - just some Black-American-Dominican travelers wearing a headwrap and a Wakanda basketball Jersey. We can't remember the last time someone got that hyped to see us and was screaming "We all Black! We Beautiful!".
While in Cuba, I finished reading the book "I'm Still Here - Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness" by Austin Channing Brown. If you haven't read that book, GO READ IT NOW! It's such a powerful story. I found myself reading it and feeling like it was a biography of my story. It was honest, straight-forward, graceful, wise, and encouraging. It was a reminder of what freedom can look like. Through this book, I learned that freedom looks like speaking the truth (even if it offends or is not a popular opinion) and living in my truth (even if it offends or is not a popular lifestyle).
In Cuba, and many other places, there is a famous Cuban drink called 'Cuba Libre', it translates to either 'Free Cuba' or 'Cuba is Free'. That's what it felt like to be there and be black. Free. Now, I'm sure as a tourist I only saw the surfaced experience of Cuba but the little I did see brought me lots of comfort and reminders of what it looks like to not walk past a cop car and be frightened for myself or my husband, among other things.
Freedom is something God gives us freely. This world has tried to convince us that it needs to be earned or that some people don't deserve it - but we all deserve it. There is no flag, person, or law that can take that away from us. Jesus preaches and quotes Isaiah 61:1 in Luke 4:18 when he says “The Spirit of the Lord is on me because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free." He is saying that he was sent to do all of this but are we not made in the image of God? and are we not called to live a life the way Jesus lead it? Then this is our call too. FREE PEOPLE FREE PEOPLE!
So whether you're white, black, latino, Asian, middle-eastern, woman, man, ballin', broke, or whatever else you want to identify as - you have been called to be free but not just for your sake or your own purpose but to also include others in that freedom journey. Racism and other negative ism's that discriminate against people and diminishes their humanity comes from a feeling of scarcity - meaning people think "I'm free and if I choose to treat you as if you are free then there won't be enough freedom for me." But God's love is not built on scarcity, it is built from and through abundance. God's love is bigger than anything in the world, that means there is enough room for all of us to be loved and set free by him.
Free is what the F in FULL stands for. We believe in it for ALL people. This is why we give 5% of all profits made at Full Collective to Restore NYC, because if we can help a little then it’s a little more than not helping at all. Because there are people in the world that still don't believe freedom is for all people and we won't stand for that. We stand for the brave. We stand for the enslaved. We stand for FULL freedom for all.