A friend of mine asked me today why my blog was called “woking up” instead of “waking up.” I am a fan of grammar, so I assure you it’s not because I forgot how to conjugate verbs. Thank you for asking this question! Let’s get into that shit!
As a simple start, here are my two favorite definitions from Urban Dictionary of what “woke” means:
A state of enlightened understanding, particularly related to issues of race and social justice. Someone who is woke is aware of issues of injustice and inequality, unlike those who might say they are colorblind.
I particularly like that this definition points out that “colorblindness” is NOT a trait of woke people.
Getting woke is like being in the Matrix and taking the red pill. You get a sudden understanding of what’s really going on and find out you were wrong about much of what you understood to be truth.
I am a big fan of pop culture references, and this one is no exception. And I think it touches on the pain and burden we can feel when we possess an awareness of (and give a shit about) the injustice around us.
As a white person, I don’t and won’t describe myself as woke. This is not past tense for me. I am on a journey toward wokeness. I will always be on that journey because there is no specific end point. This is why the name of the blog is “woking up” with a subtitle of “working on woking,” because I want the implication to be that this is a process. Mistakes will be made. New information and understandings can and will always be brought to light. If we are open to them, if we are humble and listening, we are working on being better humans, which, for me, is the whole point of being woke.
As use of this word originated in the black community and has been particularly powerful in the #blacklivesmatter movement (#staywoke especially), and because I have said and will continue to say: I AM NOT AN AUTHORITY, I will refer you to an article written by a black man named Charles Pulliam-Moore about a year ago, about the history of the word, from Erykah Badu to Trayvon Martin and beyond.
When I use the grammatically incorrect “woking” as a verb, I am referring to an ongoing process of education, awareness, and understanding around issues of injustice. I do not use #woke or #staywoke in a derogatory or sarcastic way, which is how it is often currently used on twitter. Pulliam-Moore discusses this as one of the ways these powerful terms have been co-opted, which is another reason I don’t refer to myself as woke. I use the term with the utmost respect for what the concept actually represents.
Do you have more to add to this? Did I get it completely wrong? Contact me!