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.
For starters, much like being an “ally,” being “woke” isn’t a self-designated title. It’s one that’s earned and given after proving oneself worthy over time. If you call yourself “woke,” there’s a clear possibility that you’re doing it for the wrong reasons. Most notably, gaining the approval or recognition of others.
And, while that’s the case, the term “woke” has become more of a cliche at this point than anything, following its overuse on social media. It doesn’t pack nearly the same punch as it used to.
Honestly, the thinking behind the term is flawed from jump. It places an achievable bench mark on educating oneself to the injustices that occur across the world – which makes people feel as if they’ve accomplished something once they earn the title. But there’s always more to be done and more to learn. So can one ever truly be “woke”?
Looking back, there was a time in my life where I was completely oblivious to a lot of what I now know about social justice. Over time, I unlearned a lot of toxic thoughts I carried and replaced them with better ones. But I won’t allow myself to take comfort in that now because I’m positive there’s still more for me to unlearn and relearn over time. And that’s okay. That’s the pursuit of knowledge.
A lot of people wear the term “woke” as a badge of honor to show the world that they’re safe and there’s nothing to worry about. Which makes it hurt all the worse when the world inevitably learns about a problematic action or opinion of theirs and rips off that same badge.
Just look at one of many examples of celebrities or social media personalities who have been celebrated for their “wokeness,” only to come crashing down when they’re exposed? Whether it be through old tweets, dated interviews or conflicting political ideologies.
I’ve seen far too many people get placed on a pedestal of being “woke” – either by themselves or by the masses – only to come crashing down as a result of their comfort, hubris or both. I’ll never allow myself to do the same as I continue to learn.
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