So many people from all walks of life have a habit of throwing around the terms “woke“, “ally“, “space” “decolonization” without really considering that these words have different meanings to different people. Worldview and social location contribute to how you define these words and how you live them.
I had to take issue with some women who were a bit “too woke” for my liking. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a woman of colour who also gets tired of the same old B.S. but I also believe in being realistic. Justice, equality, equity, and the like don’t happen overnight. It requires groups of people to commit to the steady, difficult, painful, and not always instantly rewarding work of creating change. Change is never instant.
I’m not saying advocates need to become silent, soft, or passive. What I’m saying is that sometimes you just might be your own worst enemy and become a barrier to change.
What do I mean by being “too woke”, well here are some examples:
-You think you, and only you are right, always right
-When you are proven wrong you refuse to apologize or acknowledge it
-You have deemed everyone and anyone who doesn’t look like you or experience the same oppression as an enemy; despite not knowing the other person(s) story
-You speak for everyone in your community and don’t allow for intersectionality and diversity of views
-If things don’t go your way you become upset and disrupt meetings, storm out of meetings, take over meetings, silence others who don’t agree with you; all.the.time.
-You take on the negative habits of oppressors or colonizers and refuse to engage in self-reflection
-You are so woke and wide eyed you see things that are not there
-You refuse to acknowledge the work that others are making towards positive and healthy changes
-You demand change NOW without considering the consequences of poorly thought out plans
-You don’t engage in discussions or communicate well. Instead, you take to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram to express your thoughts. You are more interested in cancelling, destroying, and seeking revenge rather than helping to make long lasting positive change that benefits others.
-You don’t know how to relax and have fun. You take everything seriously. Self-care and community care are not familiar parts of your wellness routine.
-You critique, but rarely have any ideas, solutions, or alternatives to offer
-You refuse to learn more about people who are different from you (gender, socio-economic, ability, race/ethnicity, colour, sexuality, etc.)
Unfortunately, this is a short list of examples.
I think it is best for those of who are involved in community work and change making to remember the words of Audre Lorde, “For the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. They may allow us to temporarily beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change.”
Let’s all do our best not to make positive change more difficult than it has to be.