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By Karima Amin
It has taken me a long time to say those words and really mean them. At age 66, loving ME is a fundamental feeling that I must acknowledge and feed every single day. I love my family. I love my community. I love my Sista-friends…and I love myself. Knowing that love for self allows me to love all others and enables me to get the job done, whatever that job may be. As I strive to show love, build love, honor love, and make love, I have to know that loving myself is at the core.
Yesterday I spoke to a group of about two dozen, so-called, at risk teen girls. (Aren’t we all at risk?) The thought of loving themselves made them giggle, as I probably would have at the age of fourteen or fifteen. We talked about the physical…hair, skin color, lips and noses. Then we discussed the “inside ME.” That was difficult. Some of them had never taken the time to consider loving the inside or spiritual self. Four of them were young mothers who seemed to be just a little more in touch with the inside and yet, they had trouble thinking of their children as products of what’s happening on the inside.
We are divine and lovable. We have been created from love and for love. In the work that I do with prisoners, their families, and formerly incarcerated people, I must always acknowledge the humanity of all concerned. We are all human beings, deserving of love and respect. When a crime is committed, the “victim” and the “offender” are both victims; human beings worthy of loving consideration. As a proponent of restorative justice, I have learned that love can restore, heal, reform and transform people and circumstances.
Karima Amin is a mother, retired public school educator, author, storyteller, percussionist, prisoner justice advocate and loving friend (who loves herself!) from Buffalo, NY. She is the Executive Director of PRISONERS ARE PEOPLE TOO, INC.