The term woke eluded me for several months until about a week ago. I had just assumed that as a citizen in the majority (in terms of class and race), it didn’t apply to me. It was being used, albeit rather infrequently at first, by people that were different than me. Now, before I go any further, it is important I share that I’ve always tried to stay up to date on current events, domestic and abroad. But until recently, I didn’t see how I could do much about it; not until someone brought up the term “woke” in a talk I was sitting in on.
Being woke is the act of being familiar with current events and having the desire to do something about them. It’s about being a representative for those in the minority and without voices. It’s a desire to promote social justice and make equity a reality. It’s about reducing harmful microaggressions. It’s about changing our vocabulary and working for a better future, not just hoping for one.
Being woke is not a term that belongs to a specific political group or protest movement; rather it is a lifestyle that all should aspire to conform to. Being woke is not slang. It is a realization that now is the time to have a say in reforming America and its politics. It is an opportunity to educate, inform and act. It is knowing the difference between equality and equity. It’s knowing that, as a member of any majority group, you are afforded a head start and numerous advantages over those in the minority. It’s recognizing that you did nothing to get what you have, but rather just because you’re (for example) white and/or middle class and/or male, you have the world at your fingertips.
So why should you want to be woke? You should want to educate yourself. You should want to be aware of what is happening around you. You should be angry about things that are happening in our country. Being woke offers an opportunity to change the circumstances. Being woke means that you, as ambiguous as it may be, “get it.” You should want to fix the system so that people aren’t born with less just because they aren’t you.
Being woke is about being an informed citizen and realizing that (racial, class, gender, etc.) prejudice is very alive and very real in America. It is about wanting to change those “gimme” head-starts. It is about being bothered by the fact that racism is everywhere around you. It is about not being proud of the fact that you have received certain things in life, because the likelihood that you actually had to work for them is small. It is having a spark in your heart and a desire to fan the flame that is social justice, equity and acceptance. Now is the time, you guessed it, to wake up.