Dear Everyone: Stop trying to Empower.

If you want to contribute to the continuation of oppression towards children and youth, empower them.”

Empowering our youth, empowering our communities, empowering our women, empowering others, empowering the world, empowering, empowering, empowering…. Stop, stop, and stop!

To empower is to assume that people are powerless and that someone who is perceived to have authority is required to grant or give power. The word maintains an oppressive state of mind. It fuels dependency on external sources to provide a gross sense of belonging that allows and permits happiness, freedom and peace. Empowering or to empower, is a short-lived experience. It can cycle victim hood, preserve savior mentalities, and sabotage any hope for long lasting change both individually and communally.

Close to 9 years ago we did a process of forgiveness in one of the workshops we offered. One of the participants shared at the end of the process that she did not forgive those in her process. I inquired and was interested in why she didn’t forgive. She reluctantly opened and admitted that it was the colonizers who were in her process. “How can I forgive those who are continuing to commit injustice and attempt genocide? How can I forgive something that is still happening to this day?” she stated. A valid point, no doubt. She went on to say, “I did forgive in my process though, I needed to forgive myself, I needed to forgive myself for giving my power away to the colonizer.” “How does that feel?” I asked. “It feels good! It feels like I reclaimed my power, it reaffirms the work that I am doing and will continue to do!”she replied. Her sharing really hit home for the group that weekend.

The truth is, it’s not about “empowering others”. It’s about holding space for people to open to the power that already exists within, to open into ‘self-power’ by reclaiming that power, through self-responsibility.

A conscious approach to being a part of long-lasting change is to understand that people have the resources within themselves to obtain happiness, freedom and peace. Even though you are not necessarily needed for them to experience this truth. You can definitely be an anchor, a reflection, or a reminder of who they are by embodying and practicing this for yourself.

If you want to continue to be a part of the oppression of those struggling due to social injustice, empower them. If you want to contribute to positive, long-lasting changes, hold yourself and others accountable to the truth within.

New Definition

A friend of mine inboxed me on facebook awhile back and asked about a different word to use for a hashtag, besides empowerment. She was aware of my views on the word and wanted to avoid using it. In our conversation she came up with the word, “InPowerment”.

InPowerment: The embodiment of self-responsibility/self-power through self-awareness and conscious choices, while holding others accountable to their truth within themselves – a practice of non-personal awareness while letting go of any form of control over others.

Let’s make InPowerment common knowledge for all those who are working in communities, with children and youth, and who are organizing events and programs for liberation. I’d like to acknowledge the amazing works of Shana Pasapa and Power our WomenReclaim your Power: Strong, Resilient, Indigenous apparel company, as well as Leah Arcand and the Miyopimatsowin program she teaches.

“I’ve travelled most of my life but this year is the worst for racism”

Exclusive interview with Jolene Connors, a young pregnant Traveller mother of a five year old child, who was one of the victims of a mob of 200 people who descended on their caravans screaming: “Hitler had the right idea to put them all in the oven”.

“I’ve travelled most of my life but this year has been the worst for racism,” says Jolene Connors, who witnessed the “vigilante mob attack” on their caravans, camped on a recreation field in Weston, West Midlands, on August 20th.

“We’ve always had ‘Pikey’ ‘Dirty Gypsy’ but never did I hear ‘Hitler had the right idea to put them all in the oven’. I know what people can be like but this even shocked me that it was allowed to be said in front of policemen,” she adds.

The Travellers’ Times watched the vigilante mob being organised on Facebook along with Report Racism GRT, and both organisations where shocked to see pictures of burning caravans and lots of racist abuse being posted by people who were planning to go.

About 200 local settled residents turned up and Police formed a barrier between the Traveller camp  as residents chanted, “off, off, off”, but despite their efforts to keep the mob back, two protestors got through into the camp attacking two of the Traveller men, says Jolene Connors.

“They did try to keep the protestors back but a couple got loose and hit two of our men, they hit back and the police dogs stopped it. It was supposed to be a peaceful protest but it was far from peaceful,” she said.

Other shouts from the mob included, “your children are retarded and dumb”, says Jolene Connors.

“We kept the kids in to stop them from getting hurt, but they still witnessed it. My girl was being sick all night as we were getting pushed out of the area,” she said.