The problem with being WOKE
I love naps, but I stay woke....
„Woke“ is a word that was born in the „Black Conscious Community“ and describes a person that leaves the „bliss of ignorance“ behind and opens themselves up to the truth that is behind „what THEY want us to know“ i.e. classism, sexism, racism and other „isms“ I guess. It means you are „awake“ and aware of social injustices. The term started from a genuine place but has become a trend word that people overuse and often now make a mockery of - I still like it though.
As I have mentioned in my essays before, I grew up in the Western part of the world, Germany, and there are certain times and instances where you just feel like „things are off“, that can be something subtle as a strange „look“ someone is giving you - not a friendly or curious one but maybe rather judgemental or even „disgusted“ (for the lack of better expression). It can be a situation where you sense a notion of „being othered“ and all you can trace it back to is maybe being a woman or being a woman of color (in my case).
In earlier times, I did not have the knowledge, vocabulary or theory to properly describe or explain my feelings and did not quite know how to be heard and to pull the „racism card“ felt too extreme, but that´s because I knew nothing about institutionalized racism and white supremacy systems.
But my inquisitive mind would not allow me to just „let it go“, I needed to learn more about the world around me and the history it holds.
I began reading books that they don´t teach you in school, sought out other authors of color, learned more about my family history and pretty soon I realized there is a „whole new world“ of knowledge and human realities I knew nothing about.
Once you begin „waking up“ to a lot of the iniquities and injustices happening in this world and how so many of those are deeply rooted in our traditions and standards of society that they became our normal, you will start noticing how many „lies“ you have internalized and how conditioned even you and the loved ones around you are.
You will discover so many things that you used to like and never saw anything wrong with are actually highly problematic, sexist or even racist.
Many of your past actions and habits might not even agree with your new mindset and you may even feel confused about where that puts you on the spectrum of being a „good human“.
And once you discover the intersectionalities that many issues hold, then you begin understanding how much more has to change to make this world a fairer and more equal ground for all its creatures.
You begin thinking about issues and people who have been way off your radar, as the working conditions of women in Bangladesh that work in sweatshops producing that same shirt you rock with the print „feminist“ on the chest that you bought from H&M.
„Can I even shop there anymore?! But it´s my favorite store....“.
Topics like sustainability and inclusivity pop up in your brain and you begin applying them to living realities around you and then further match them to those far away from you.
In your learning process (which never really stops), you will find yourself in loopholes... the more you learn, the less you´ll feel you know.
I especially felt that way about food when I wanted to open myself up to learning about a healthier way of living and accepting food to be my medicine, I often didn´t know what to eat anymore because the information often seems so conflicting.
Generally, I began this journey to elevate myself, raise my consciousness and vibrate on a higher frequency but then often found myself getting mad - big mad - once I read beyond the surface and. the pretty labels.
And yes this journey is overwhelming, especially for empaths like me, there will be days where the „weltschmerz“ will depress you to the point where you feel unable to go about your day and just „carry on“.
It will frustrate you and make you sad when you see how much is wrong with this world and how endless and hopeless it often seems.
You will get tired educating people the topics that are personal to you, calling out their privilege, trying to make them acknowledge that through their actions they are feeding into racist ideologies and so still strengthening systemic oppressions even though their „intentions weren´t bad“. I´ve had to throw the towel long time on endless back and forth discussions with white people who still believe that saying the N-Word is not so „bad“ anymore because Hip Hop made it cool and accessible.
People will accuse you of exaggerating or even lying when you share some of your life experiences or call you „too sensitive“.
I even experienced this from my own elders, who believe the racism „we young people“ are complaining about is „nothing compared to the one they´ve had to face“.
Don´t allow yourself to get discouraged when you don´t seem to get the people around you „on board“, you can only meet someone as deeply as they have met themselves.
You will ask yourself whether your activism even really helps or betters anything or if it is all just a big waste of time because after decades of protesting about „black lives matter“ you still are confronted with new headlines every day that show differently.
I still believe it is important to stand up for what you believe in and be loud and vocal about it. Because the enemy, white supremacy and patriarchy always seem to be a united front, they are not even trying to have any discourse or dialogue, they just instrumentalize one opinion and push through their agenda and ideologies.
Of course, that is making things really easy, but things are not always that easy - the truth is complex and difficult to dissect sometimes and so it often takes us longer and more effort to find a common denominator and fit all intersectionalities under one roof and make eg. feminism inclusive or fight racism.
Personally, I allow myself to take regular breaks from „fighting the good fight“ - for my mental health.
Allow yourself to move at your own speed too.
And you do not have to all-time-ready to teach and educate. Sometimes we just don´t have the energy for it and that´s fine. Maybe it is not worth going into a deep „white vs black feminism“ discussion at a birthday party when everybody is already tipsy - „pick your battles“.
There is a time and a place for everything.
Disclaimer: I do not own any of these images shown in this blogpost.
But don´t forget... Stay Woke, Sis