I would consider myself fairly “woke.”
I think a great deal about my Blackness and my womanness, and how these things intersect with police brutality, women’s rights, the school-to-prison pipeline, cultural appropriation, etc. I write about these things a lot, and I try to keep myself in check when it comes to crossing those troublesome lines. I’m less and less concerned with being stereotypical and more concerned with presenting all sides of myself: I recognize that I can be a prim & proper prude WITH a formidable pimp-hand, if I want to be. I am Cardi B and Ayesha Curry at the same time, every minute of every day because they’re not opposites. Whether I choose to be everything or nothing is no one’s choice but mine, and that’s an idea that I can really get down with.
But with the constant barrage of offensive language and buzzwords in face-to-face encounters and throughout our internet lives, how do we keep it cool? How do we find the balance that allows us to still enjoy life as people who are actively oppressed and assaulted everyday? How do we not become so woke that we can’t enjoy a good maybe problematic joke/ song/ movie or two? Is there ever time to be “sleep?” Time to chill? Time to rest in all of our raggedy splendor?
Furthermore, what is peak wokeness? Can you still have genuine fun with your third eye wide open all the time?
I be needin’ a timeout some days. I have to check myself when it comes to this often. Trying to consider all the world’s peoples and problems will absolutely wear you out. I mean, it is HARD out here; once your eyes are opened to disparities and marginalization, it’s difficult to reel in your hero complex. It’s difficult to find where you belong on the spectrum of “woke-ness”– I’m often either completely apathetic or teetering on being insufferably woke (in spurts). It’s easy to lose your balance when there’s so much guilt that can come with trying to save the world and participate in its sometimes cruel systems.
So I guess the secret to being sane and woke is just that– consciousness. Knowing. Being cognizant of the fact that disparities and oppression exist. Is it possible to truly be woke and enjoy the guilty pleasures that seemingly contradict it? To speak biblically (but off the mark a bit) for a moment, I guess I’ve learned to be “in it but not of it.” I can enjoy the filth but not actually believe in it, right? I can be aware of the trouble of actually believing in the problematic ideas and still indulge in them without succumbing to them… right?
Example: As a woman and a hip-hop fan, I know that heavy doses of misogyny, colorism and homophobia are often at play. As a superhero movie fan, I know I probably won’t see many heroes, or characters period, who look like me. So how do I reconcile the constant controversy and still claim that I’m woke?
Maybe I don’t.
Maybe I just accept that this will be a thing that will always be unfair and unstable. Maybe being a good person– a socially aware, socially active person– and being a trap music loving hoodrat will always be a balancing act. So rather than commit to solving all the world’s ills and being unproblematic, I’ll just commit to creating harmony and to staying level, even when I’m challenged to choose.
Remember, you don’t have to choose. Get you a slimmie who can do both.
Bee you a slimmie who can do both.