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Woke-O-Meter: What's the Big Deal?

September 26, 2017

 



Last week my university's BSU discussed the term, "woke."  The conversation began by asking everyone to define this term.  Responses varied; but generally, the word was defined as:  "Being aware of what is going on around you socially."  Unfortunately, what began as a positive exercise evolved into a passive-aggressive battle for the title of, "Most Woke" in the room. 

The Urban Dictionary defines the term, "woke" as:  "Being aware of the social and political environments around you regarding all demographics of social-economic standings."  I do think being "woke" is important, especially considering the chaotic state of our government, but also as an important piece of self-care for PoC (people of color), BUT the word "woke" leaves a bad taste in my mouth.  The idea of "woke" & "woke-ness" is currently marketed as a fashion trend instead of a means for stability and growth of a people (black people).  

The overall idea of "woke-ness" is truly a positive one; however, not when I see people use the concept to compare their own "wokeness" to others, as if to imply, "I am more woke than you.", "I am better".  In the growing and always present world of social media, platforms like Twitter and Facebook become "most woke" battlefields.  On my campus, "woke-ness" now acts as a divide instead of a way to unite black student. There are the black "super activists" students versus the black students who seem to care less about the stupid shit Kodak Black says for example.  So I ask you: Does this even matter?  Is this really that important? I think not! 


The idea of a "good, super black" is not a thing, OMG.  Black people are not a monolith.  We are not all the same, and we don't all have to be the same.  The plastic ideal of "woke-ness" is not something that can unite us as black people, if we make woke-ness a competition. This is DIVIDING!  Woke-ness does not translate to integrity.  Being woke does not mean you are more black than any other black person.  Shouldn't we measure people by the content of their character, the work they are doing, how they are implementing their knowledge to HELPING people-- instead of the content of their Twitter or Facebook; where many of us do not even fact check before retweeting misinformation on our timelines and Instagram pages?

If woke-ness isn't uniting and uplift black people, what's the big deal about being "woke" in the first place?  Black people have WAY bigger fish to fry than proving who is the most woke in the room or on our timelines.

 

Is your "woke-ness" holding you or your people back?

 


                                                                                           -imani jai

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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