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#tolerancemeans freedom & diversity

Updated: Apr 8

Adisa Wheeler, Kewanee Life Skills Re-Entry Center

1. the quality or state of being free: INDEPENDENCE 2: EXEMPTION, RELEASE 3: EASE, FACILITY 4: FRANKNESS 5: unrestricted use 6: a political right; also: FRANCHISE, PRIVILEGE

That is the exact definition for "Freedom" in The Merriam Webster Dictionary, the Home and Office Edition. I feel like the word Freedom can mean different things for different people at different points in their lives.

Personally pre-incarceration I really only associated the word Freedom in conversations and movies pertaining to slavery and racism. I started to see the meaning of freedom in a different light after spending year after year incarcerated. When my mind, my body and my spirit started processing the fact that so many things, even the things I realized I took for granted has been stripped from my way of life. So, that's what Freedom meant to me pre­ incarceration.

During my incarceration Freedom means; the longing for hope, family, community, peace, a future, a life and to finally have a home. Though I've heard a few incarcerated individuals say, "I might be physically incarcerated but I am mentally free." that could be from their religion, reading books, their imagination or whatever the case-may-be. I'm not going to lie, that's not me. Now, I do have moments where I can block out all the prison noise but I can still feel that I am incarcerated.

I believe post-incarceration Freedom will mean; release, family community, ability to breathe and the right to... Right to live. Right to earn a living. Right to be a part of a community. Right to contribute. Right to love. Right to be loved. The right to be giving a chance for the person I am today and not the charge I was convicted of over two decades ago. The right to build a future and the right to so-on-and-so-on. I also know and understand that same Freedom is for everyone. Therefore, people have the right to see and feel about me as they wish. That version of Freedom happened and will happen in all stages of my life pre-incarceration, during incarceration and a high percentage of it happening post-incarceration. And it is my Freedom (right to) be sad, disappointed and hurt by that reaction from others but still have that Freedom to continue moving forward on a positive grounding.

I also believe that same Freedom ties in with the importance of having a Diverse society. It is the reason why we are where we are today and the never ending continuance of evolution. People having the Freedom of having different thoughts, different cultures, different upbringings and having different ways of seeing things. Can only happen with a Diverse society.

Just imagine a world without Diversity in it. No wheel. No fire. No buildings. No cars. No planes. No electricity. That would mean everybody would be thinking the same and not wanting or having the inspiration for change. No one thinking outside the box. No one thinking to make things better. We have to remember it was not 100% all blacks that helped free us from slavery. Do to the Diversity of the non-blacks way of thinking allowed them to believe that all humans have the right to Freedom. Would we be at the point we are at now without that Diversity in our struggle? Don't get me wrong. I know we as a human race still have some work to do. But without Diversity (non-blacks) Blacks/ African American and us as a whole could be living in a worse society.

Then on a different culture level living with Diversity is amazing. Being able to learn from a different group of individuals. Having a conversation with someone who speaks a completely different language. Yet, still be able to understand and communicate with each other on some level, is amazing. We need Diversity to learn, grow, fellowship, be able to problem solve from different angles in order to continue on the path of making our society the best version we can make it.

I know my definition/outlook on Freedom and Diversity might seem simple but that's the Freedom (post-incarceration) and Diversity I look forward to as I embark on my new chapter.


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