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paperairplane's picture

A theme among the two readings that has resonated with me is empowerment.

Freire makes the argument that empowerment is not an individual feeling but a social act, and that “if you are not able to use your recent freedom to help others to be free by transforming the totality of society, then you are exercising only an individualist attitude towards empowerment or freedom”. My peers and I constantly throw around the word empowerment as more of an individualist feeling than an actual social act, especially in terms of online videos like the ones on Upworthy. One of the downsides of Upworthy videos is that they can make you feel extremely inspired, empowered, hope for change, and make you feel really good, and then you can just walk away from the video and continue on with your day without doing anything with those feelings... or just waiting until the next Upworthy video shows up on the dashboard. Upworthy can most definitely be a tool for Freire's definition of empowerment as it can spread messages virally. How can we get all these people who have been inspired to come together and act for change?

Levinson's chapter on the civic empowerment gap aligns with Freire's definition in that she outlines it as actual participation through voting, writing letters, making phone calls, attending community meetings, etc. She also provides actual solutions for closing the gap, but these are massive changes; some I hope to, but not sure I'll ever see in my lifetime? I'm overwhelmed by the thought of all the work that would need to go into closing the gap and I think I should unpack why I feel that way...