5 Easy Ways to Stay Woke

“Stay woke: Deriving from "stay awake," to stay woke is to keep informed of the shitstorm going on around you in times of turmoil and conflict, specifically on occasions when the media is being heavily filtered.” Urban Dictionary

This is the definition given by Urban Dictionary (the dictionary we use most commonly, let’s be real), and it describes “woke” as being aware or well-informed. Considering everything that is happening in the world, it's so important to stay woke now more than ever .

Feminist movements, Black Lives Matter, Hurricane Maria, Trump’s Presidency, the NFL controversy, the Las Vegas shooting, gun control — these are just some of the many issues and topics that we should be aware of. There’s too much going on and too many people being affected for us not to pay attention. We should all inform ourselves and find our stances on these issues so that we can learn how to work toward positive change.

With everything going on in our own lives, it may seem hard to keep up with the things that are affecting everyone else; but here are some things you can do to stay woke:

1. Follow News Accounts and Activist on Twitter

This is one of the easiest ways to stay woke, people. All you have to do is hit the follow button on some news sources and read their small, 140-character tweets as you scroll through your Twitter feed. @NPR is one of my favorites, but feel free to follow any new source of your choice. I also suggest following a mix of conservative and liberal-leaning accounts, like @NYtimes and @FoxNews, to see what both sides are saying. Take a look at activists you should be following here. Sometimes your favorite celebrities and athletes tweet about important topics; stop for a second and read what they have to say.

2. Look at the “Trending Topics” Sidebar on Facebook

Facebook lists some important things going on in the world on the upper right side of your computer screen. On your phone, you can see the list when you click into the search box on the top of the page. I look at the "Trending Topics" when I get up in the morning. If the topic catches my eye, I’ll click on the topic and try to read more about it. Looking at the list of "Trending Topics" can help you stay on top of what’s going on as they happen.

3. Read and Follow Humans of New York 

For those of you who still haven’t heard of Humans of New York, the premise is that this woke guy, Brandon, goes around cities and interviews different people. It’s real people telling real stories about their lives. Although these stories are short and only take about two minutes to read, they have me in tears most of the time. These stories put you in another person’s shoes; it’s hard to imagine what someone else’s life is like, but Humans of New York makes you realize that everyone you meet is dealing with something. It makes you understand that every person is a human being, no matter who they are, where they’re from or what they’ve been through.

Check out some eye-opening stories here.

4. Take Woke Classes while You’re in College

Some college classes can really change your outlook on life. I would recommend taking a Gender and Women’s Studies class, an African American and an Asian American history or literature class and a creative writing class. A lot of the history and culture of minorities isn’t taught in your average high school history class; and classes like these open your eyes to what minorities have gone through while living in America. Creative writing classes broaden your perspective to what your other classmates have to go through on a daily basis, since most people tend to write about personal life events. Not everyone around you has had the easiest home life or the healthiest of family and friends. Creative writing helps you learn to listen and try to understand the people around you. I would also recommend taking an entry level political science class so you can understand how the government functions. These classes usually qualify as an elective that you may already need. So when you are making your schedule for next semester, ask around and see if any of your friends have taken a woke class.

5. Check Out Speakers and Activist that Come to Your Campus

Speakers and activists are always visiting colleges around the country and the world. It’s easy to just breeze over a flyer about some speaker that you’ve never heard of, but what they present is usually informative and interesting. Last year, I saw rapper Killer Mike speak about race relations on my campus; I’ve also seen author Junot Diaz speak about immigration. These speakers bring up points and evoke thoughts that you might never consider yourself. Killer Mike, for example, asked us why young children of all races will play together at most playgrounds when their parents won’t interact with parents of another race. This happens more often then you think.

I recommend looking up a schedule of events at your school. For UW-Madison, check out the event calendar here. To make things even better, these events are usually free. On Oct. 24 at the Memorial Union, I’ll be attending Miss Major Griffin Gracy's lecture and discussion about human rights. I’ve never heard of Miss Major before, but this is a topic that I definitely want to be more informed on. Going to see speakers for free on campus is a great way to stay woke.

 

This list is just a few things you can do to stay woke. I also recommend you join clubs and support things that interest you. You could perhaps also read books that discuss important topics, like The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, which speaks on women’s rights. You can even try to talk to someone new in class and get to know their story. Staying woke is something anyone can do, and it’s important to take the time to do so. Encourage your friends and family to make the effort to stay informed, too. Pay attention to what’s around you, read up and don’t be afraid to put yourself in someone else’s shoes to understand their side of things.

Stay woke folks!