How we get woke

October 21, 2019

get-wokeIf only getting woke were as simple as walking through a door.

“Get woke” means becoming aware of social injustices –and it applies especially to those of us born with unrecognized privilege. Getting woke is the process of recognizing our privilege and understanding that others may not have the same privilege.

And what it really means is that we white people need to get that people of color do not have what we have and I do mean “get it” viscerally. Not just intellectually or in the lip service way but to get it at our core.

Once you’ve got woke, expect your heart to break. A lot. Because it’s a cruel and unfair world and it’s gotten no better in the past 50 years since I hit real adulthood.

I’ve said before that as a child of the 60s I was deluded into thinking the world had actually changed. But as any person of color can tell you, it hasn’t. Not fundamentally.

If you spend any time on social media you’ll see white women schooling other women on getting woke and black women schooling not-black women on it and white women saying other liberal white women are racist and on and on. I am just not a fan of that behavior. It may be cathartic (and who doesn’t like feeling superior, right?) but I don’t think it’s productive. Doesn’t do much to further awakening.

A few years back I was ostracized by a liberal white female friend for not recognizing my own privilege. I must admit that it made me think longer and harder quicker than I might have had she not dramatically and intolerantly stalked off.

But it also made me aware that the process of getting woke is just that: a process. And it’s significantly more complicated than surface observation would indicate. I’ll write more on how it’s more complicated soon.

There are plenty of us out there who would never behave in racist ways, who do not feel we have an ounce of bigotry and who still haven’t gotten hold of our own privilege. Should we call those people names? We have become such an intolerant society, one in which name-calling and other uncivilized behavior is becoming the norm. Should we behave that way?

Or should we dig in and help them understand what they don’t seem to?And I do mean dig in. Ask the questions. Have the discussion.

I know what I choose.



6 comments on “How we get woke
  1. Haralee says:

    it is a great discussion!

  2. ReNa says:

    I see it everyday here in the South and it makes me just want try harder.

  3. Laurie Stone says:

    I like to think of myself as “woke” as far as racial prejudice, but I’m sure there’s always more to learn. There always is. At least we’re having that discussion. Some people refuse to believe it exists anymore.

  4. Betty Kaufman says:

    I like that you say that being woke is a process. As long as people are on the process, we need to try to be open and accepting of them.

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