This is the second time I have read this chapter by Freire for a class, but the passage of two years between that occasion and my re-reading of it today has reframed my understanding of the text. The ingrained nature of systems of oppression remain a part of our lives even as we try to fight against them, and the realities we strive for are driven on some level by these systems. When contemplating this, however, I begin to wonder what kind of world could exist outside of this oppression. What does it mean to be truly free? Two years ago I felt I could understand at face value this text, but now I am beginning to question my own interpretation and comprehension of it. What is “authentic existence” as Freire posits it? I am trying to understand the reading within the scope of a sphere in which I feel I have been oppressed, as a disabled individual trying to succeed in a system not designed for people like me. If what I want, more than anything, is to be able to live the way my non-disabled peers do, without my set of worries and anxieties and pain, am I feeding back into the system of oppression? Should I instead want to change what it means to be able-bodied or disabled, attempt to redefine our dominant norms? Why does this feel unachievable to me? Perhaps my personal example does not align with what the reading is trying to say, or perhaps I am unwilling to accept that my desire for a more “functional” body is dehumanizing to myself. I am still not sure where I stand on this issue.

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