Why I Will Never Call Myself ‘Woke’

Being “woke” is the modern day version of saying someone’s in tune with the world around them, has their third eye open, or whatever phrase you’d like to use to declare them as someone who “gets it.”

Calling someone “woke” is meant to be a compliment, except for when it’s being used ironically – which happens all too often. It’s sort of a pat on the back to let someone know that they’re not in the problematic majority that’s either directly or indirectly playing a role in some form of oppression.

But, while the occasional few have used the word in reference to me, I’ll never use it to describe myself. 

Why America Needs Justice-Oriented Civic Education Now More Than Ever

The United Negro Improvement Association. The Congress of Racial Equity. The Southern Christian Leadership Conference. The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. The National Association of Colored Women. The National Association For the Advancement of Colored People. The Black Panther Party.

The list of civic organizations that helped shape the course of racial justice in the 20th century seems almost endless.

A Discussion with Mariame Kaba On The #ByeAnita Campaign and Grassroots Organizing

There are very few activists today who can boast the experience and accomplishments of Mariame Kaba. The New York native, whose work brought her to Chicago for over 20 years, is an educator, organizer, and curator whose work “focuses on ending violence, dismantling the prison industrial complex, transformative justice and supporting youth leadership development.” She has worked tirelessly to create a more just world for marginalized communities. And now, Kaba has created a video about the Chicago effort to successfully oust Anita Alvarez, the ex-State’s Attorney for Cook County, Illinois who lost her Democratic primary to Kim Foxx in March 2016.

We had the chance to ask Kaba about her work on this campaign, her reasons for creating the video, and what the implications are for social organizing today.

Where to Give on this #GivingTuesday

In the activism world, physical presence is important but there’s no denying that financial contributions are just as vital. Given the current climate of the U.S., many communities are fighting injustices at every turn, on every level. This Giving Tuesday, we are asking that you consider supporting organizations that work for justice for all people.

Here is a list of organizations and meaningful efforts that you can invest in on this Giving Tuesday:

Detroit students are fighting a state government that claims ‘literacy is not a right’

This country has a long history of denying the basic, unabridged, and inalienable rights to all people despite the promises made in the Bill of Rights. This truth is evidenced by the fact that students, right now in 2016, are fighting in Michigan courts for better quality education.

Seven Detroit children, as represented by a Los Angeles law firm, filed a lawsuit in September citing “decades of state disinvestment and deliberate indifference to Detroit’s schools have denied them access to literacy,” according to WJBK-Fox2 News

Black teen killed by white man who called him ‘another piece of trash off the street’

Racial tensions have been thick since the election of Donald Trump on November 8th. Those individuals who resent marginalized people seem emboldened by the prospects of Trump’s leadership. The shooting death of an unarmed Black teen on the East End of Charleston, West Virginia on Monday is yet another tragic case where racism and violence resulted in the loss of Black life.

William Ronald Pulliam is a 62-year-old man who was not allowed to own a gun due to a previous domestic violence conviction, according to the Charleston Gazette-Mail. Even with this conviction, Pulliam shot 15-year-old James Harvey Means twice in the abdomen with a .380 caliber revolved, an act he made just before going to dinner at the home of a female friend for the evening.

Police found the gun allegedly used to kill Means at the woman’s home, according to a report filed by Charleston Police Detective C.C. Lioi.

‘Thankstaking,’ The DAPL And Our Centuries-Long Disregard For Native Lives

For those of us who consider ourselves believers in social justice, reckoning with the Thanksgiving holiday can easily become hairy.

On the one hand, it is a rare opportunity for families, particularly those that are working class, to come together, eat delicious food (depending on who makes it) and strengthen their bonds. And yet, as law enforcement officers pepper spray Native activists at Standing Rock, set dogs on them and hose them down in frigid temperatures, the guilt behind grabbing a Turkey leg and proclaiming ‘Happy Thanksgiving’ has, for some of us, become much more difficult to ignore.

Families of Chicago To Host ‘Save Our Scene’ Banquet For Queer Families

This is a time of year when family, fellowship, and togetherness are integral to everyone’s lives. This weekend, a group of Chicago residents are making sure that queer families in the area have just as much access to those needs as everyone else.

This upcoming Sunday, Families of Chicago will be hosting the inaugural “Save Our Scene” banquet at the Ida Noyes Hall. More than 150 attendees are expected to fill the Cloister Club Room on Nov. 27 from 6-10 p.m. for a night meant to highlight the black queer community.

Being Black at School Is The Type Of Activism We Need Right Now

In recent years, the many highly publicized acts of violence against Black people of all ages have drawn attention to the disparate conditions facing this group on all fronts. Yet, a particularly treacherous place for Black people is in school. Luckily, one activist is doing her part to change that reality for Black students across the country.

 

I recently had the chance to connect with Kelly Wickham Hurst to learn about her new organization dedicated to making schools more equitable, safer, and fair for Black students, Being Black at School. Hurst, the Founder and Executive Director of BBAS, spent “23 years in the public education system as a teacher, literacy coach, guidance dean, and assistant principal” before leaving to start BBAS.