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To Liberate and Be Liberated: A Commitment to Realizing Freedom

Photograph of Tiffeny Jimenez

Tiffeny R. Jimenez is a Community Psychologist and Associate Professor of Psychology within the School of Social and Behavioral Sciences at National Louis University (NLU). She is most passionate about creating more inclusive communities and socially just practices through organizational and community-level systems change; facilitating and evaluating coalition development; examining resource exchange sustainability, and developing educational opportunities that promote systems leadership.

As a practitioner and educator, I continuously reflect on how well I apply the principles of the field, and a key part of this work involves working with others that seek to speak truth to power through a process of mutual liberation.

I hold a number of roles within the community, and to be true to the goals of promoting empowering processes and outcomes I must adhere to a level of consciousness committed to realizing freedom. This inevitably requires understanding my place, power, role and biases in every situation related to my purpose within settings. I believe, whether working to change the culture of an organization to be more empowering, facilitating dialogue with community groups about their data to influence decision-making, or teaching a course a community psychology course in which we hope to inspire learning and action, the principles of creating empowering settings are the same.

Lessons Learned: I recently re-read Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed and find it helpful when reflecting on roles where I seek to facilitate empowerment. As a community psychologist, the five main conditions we must cultivate include: love, humility, faith, hope, and critical thought. First, we must have authentic love for the people we work with, and love for the world itself. Second, humility allows us to relate most correctly with others in that we realize our limitations and the potential of others. Third we must possess faith in the potential of human beings along with a belief that the world can be addressed in a formative way. Fourth we need to have a disposition of hope that it is possible to change the world in a positive way. Last, enacting critical thought recognizing the world is dynamic and that we are inextricably related to it.

Once the five primary conditions are present, we need to be able to facilitate and foster first-hand authentic humanizing dialogue without fear of being vulnerable in this public act of intimacy. Ultimately, it is through dialogue that everyone gains the freedom to name or put voice to a more comprehensive understanding of reality.  Dialogue allows for moving beyond any perceived limits that constrain our actions and move into a level of consciousness where we believe we can mutually reconstruct the world.

Hot Tip: Toward the goal of world reconstruction our facilitation must acknowledge people’s realities, tear down fixed perceptions of the world, and assist in reframing limits as opportunities for growth. I would argue that any slight inauthenticity of the five conditions will erode the potential for trust to be built and reduce effectiveness as educators/facilitators.

Rad Resource: Freire, P. (2000). Pedagogy of the oppressed (30th anniversary ed.). New York: Continuum.

This blog was written by Tiffeny Jimenez and first posted by AEA 365. Used with permission.