Liberatory Consciousness

September 29, 2022

We cannot do restorative justice work well if we are not also fighting for racial equity in the spaces that we work. Looking through the lens of equity, we find the concept of liberation. This brings up the question, how do we grow our liberatory consciousness?


Developing a liberatory consciousness centers around freeing yourself and others from systems and institutions which promote oppression. Dr. Barbara J Love, who is an activist, consultant and Transformation specialist, names liberatory consciousness as “a framework used to maintain an awareness of the dynamics of oppression characterizing society without giving in to despair and hopelessness about that condition and enabling us to practice intentionality about changing systems of oppression. In her four step Framework to Develop a Liberatory Consciousness, she highlights what steps we can take as individuals when it comes to developing our liberatory consciousness.

Awareness: We have become aware of the oppressive systems and structures around us. How are they affecting communities? Who is marginalized? How have I interacted with oppressive systems?

Analysis: “Interrogating what we see happening in the world around us from a liberatory perspective.” Engage in deep thought with the information you are now aware of. Theorize about root causes and why it is happening.  

Action: Connect with other organizations and individuals engaged in the work and see what actions you can take as an individual to support change. Do thorough research before taking action to ensure your actions are not causing further harm.

Accountability/Ally-ship: Take a critical view and ask what needs to change so that others can experience liberation. Explore what it looks like to be an ally of individuals and communities that are oppressed?

"If you have come to help me you are wasting your time. But if you recognize that your liberation and mine are bound up together, we can walk together."  ~ Lila Watson

Check out these resources to learn more about developing your liberatory consciousness:

Tools for Social Change: How to Develop a Liberatory Consciousness by Leadership for Educational Equity

Barbara J. Love Consulting: Social justice, Transformational Change and Liberation & Healing

Chapter 3 of The Little Book of Youth Engagement in Restorative Practices: Intergenerational Partnership for Just and Equitable Schools by Anita Wadhwa, Evelín Aquino, and Heather Bligh Manchester.

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