Yesterday my son got in the car and called me a ‘woke liberal’. Putting aside the fact that we still don’t know if he seriously believes these things (which would be disappointing but manageable) or is just trolling his mother which is highly likely because he has always been a mischievous sort, it gave us a great opportunity to say. “Yes! We are ‘woke’, and proud of it! By the way, do you even know what ‘woke’ means?”
Definition of ‘Woke’ according to the Oxford Dictionary:
“alert to injustice in society, especially racism.”
And Merriam Webster:
“aware of and actively attentive to important facts and issues (especially issues of racial and social justice).”
Like seriously, who does NOT want to be that? Abraham Lincoln was almost certainly ‘woke’, or at least ‘waking up’. Lincoln had a moral, legal and economic opposition to the institution of slavery. Abolitionists would argue that he should have acted more aggressively and ignored the constitution completely, but then America’s union would not be what it is today. Whether that is a good or bad thing is still TBD. Waking up is a process, for a man and a nation.
You can’t make me feel guilty for trying to be something just because it drips from your sneering lips, or you say it with that derogatory tone over and over. Because I’m not an idiot. And I have the benefit of being alive on this earth almost four times longer than my son, a terrifying truth. I have the dual advantage over my children of having grown up and lived in countries and cultures other than the USA.
Before there was ‘wokeness’ there was ‘consciousness’, and ‘conscious music for conscious times’, conscious reggae and dub. And growing up in Trinidad in the late eighties and nineties as the ‘white girl’ I wanted nothing more than to prove to my friends in school and on my swim team (but most importantly to myself) that I wasn’t a racist. This requires work. Because let me assure you being woke is not the easy path. It requires you to confront structural racism and your own part and contribution to it. It literally requires you to WAKE UP!
So go ahead, call me a ‘woke liberal’, I’ll clutch my heart and breathlessly say, “Why, thank you SO MUCH! I don’t think I am nearly there yet, I have so much more to learn, but I try.”
Bob Marley – One Love
Let them all pass all their dirty remarks (one love)
There is one question I’d really love to ask (one heart)
Is there a place for the hopeless sinner
Who has hurt all mankind just to save his own?