3 Ways to Get and Say “Woke”
Let me tell you something. I am a pretty well informed person when it comes to issues and news that affect communities of color. HOWEVER, even I have a hard time keeping up with the latest police-stop-gone-wrong, foolish Trump statement, reality T.V. faux pas, and Malia Obama dance-a-thon. It’s tew murch! Every now and then someone asks me my opinion about something as serious as the killing of a black woman by the police or about something as trivial as Ivanka Trump’s clothing line and I get stubbed. Like, dang I didn’t know Ivanka had a shoe line. Are they cute? Do we like her? Are we boycotting her stuff? I’m glad that girl looks like her mama. Or I have to be like, dang another black woman was killed by the police? Her son was in the house? He got shot too? Girl, when did this happen? Send me the link to the video!
Sometimes “wokeness” seems too far out of reach. Sometimes I think to myself that I’ll just be ignorant and unaware because staying up on it all is so time consuming. Other times, I am emotionally drained. I don’t always want to watch another violent video. I don’t even want to hear about what city council meeting I should be attending or which products I’m supposed to be boycotting or all the pending legislation I should be writing my representatives about. Again, it’s tew murch! The truth is, it’s too much for everyone, and I don’t get to be oblivious. I don’t want to be. I want to be aware of what’s happening in my community and in my country and in the world. More importantly, I want to be apart of the solution. That means I force myself to stay in the know even when I’m overwhelmed. Here are some of the ways I do that. Maybe they’ll help you too.
- Subscribe to a few good news outlets. There’s local, national, and international news. You need it all and it would be great to have as much of it in one place as possible. I subscribe to my mayor’s newsletter, my council person’s newsletter, and my state representative’s daily news round-up. I don’t read them all in detail – just the highlights. This keeps me pretty informed about what’s happening in my city and state so that I at least know when I need to do further research. For national and international news, I subscribe to Huffington Post’s Morning Email. They align with my more liberal leanings and send articles that are a mix of political, business, and pop culture topics. It’s perfect to get the top stories of the day. I also listen to K-Love on the radio on the way to work. It’s a Christian station so you know they’re not talking about any and everything and it allows me to sort of ease into the day. I gets me some Jesus and little news too. You can check Yahoo news everyday or listen to some talk radio or whatever you’d like. Just make an effort.
- Get woke friends. If there is new tea, your friends will share it as soon as they find out. These could be Facebook friends, real life friends, members of an organization you’re in, or even co-workers. People who like to think and talk about what’s happening in the world, especially as it relates to oppression of any kind, will want to tell you about it if they know you’re interested. I’m a member of the Urban League Young Professionals of Middle Tennessee. The members in my organization stay on top of what’s going on. I can’t open up GroupMe without seeing links to newspaper articles, memes with Michelle Obama’s hair laid to perfection, or invites to support new minority-owned businesses in town. They keep me woke . . . like for real, my phone be blowing up at night and I literally can’t sleep.
- Care. Recognize that there are people living in this world who are having a completely different experience than you. Try to put yourself in their shoes – whatever sort of shoes those are. Imagine being the parents of a daughter in Iraq or Sudan. Could you understand what it might be like to send your son to school but keep your equally intelligent daughter home for fear that she might be harmed? Imagine being born into the Islamic faith in America. Would you want to freely practice your religion, without intervention, mockery, condemnation, or threat of violence? Imagine being Mexican. Would you leave the comfort and familiarity of your home country for better work opportunities in this country? Would the welfare of your family be important enough for that? If you can’t empathize with other people, especially the plight of non-white people, disregard everything I’m saying and move to Mars. Move. To. Mars.
There are other ways to stay woke. You can read a slew of books, join the Black Live Matter movement, follow Melissa Harris Perry or Jesse Williams’ fine azz on Instagram, watch Amandla Stenberg’s cute and informative video about cultural appropriation, get familiar with critical race theory, etc. It’s not everyone’s job to be a champion for racial equality but I do think everyone should be ready to defend or uplift people of color if the opportunity ever arises. This will require you to be the least bit woke. Do your best.