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Freedom: A Reflection

by Swati Narayan, Director of AAPI Community Safety & Belonging

This Independence Day, let us reflect on deeper meanings of freedom—a word whose complexities we may not consider every day. Freedom takes on different hues when we center people who have historically been marginalized, oppressed, or silenced. At its core, freedom allows us to show up authentically, be seen, and to live bravely in the face of uncertainty.

For survivors of abuse, freedom is not merely the absence of physical threats. It is the ability to live without fear. Freedom is safety and having autonomy. It is having the support and resources to rebuild one's life and reclaim a sense of dignity, free from the shadow of coercive control. At Daya, our counseling, legal assistance, education, and community support provide a runway for survivors to take control of their lives. We see the transformative power of this kind of freedom to ignite hope across generations.

America's foundation is built on complex and often painful histories. It is essential to acknowledge that this country was established on unceded lands, taken from Indigenous peoples who have lived here for millennia. This recognition is not a historical footnote, but a call to recognize the ongoing impact of colonization on the lives we live today.

For people of color, the concept of freedom in America has always been complicated. The Declaration of Independence proclaimed that "all men are created equal," yet this promise rang hollow for enslaved Africans and their descendants. Even today, systemic racism continues to limit opportunities and threaten the safety and dignity of Black, brown, and many immigrant communities.

True freedom is intrinsically linked to human dignity. It's about recognizing the inherent worth of every individual, regardless of their race, background, or life experiences. It's about creating a society where everyone has the opportunity to live, work, and pursue happiness without fear of hate, abuse or violence. Freedom isn't just about what we're free from—it's about what we're free to become and how we can evolve.

This Independence Day, we challenge you to expand your understanding of freedom to include the right to safety, dignity, and self-determination for all. Commit to creating a society where survivors have genuine freedom of choice— in their relationships, careers, and life paths. This means advocating, in all of our spaces, for policies that protect the vulnerable, supporting organizations that provide critical services, and fostering communities that stand against all forms of violence and oppression, today, and everyday.


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