It’s time to be woke, even Kanye thinks so.
Political correctness is one of those things that people really strive for, but at the same time, people hate it. Some argue that it is important to be very mindful of everything that comes out of your mouth; others claim that this is a violation of our right to free speech and only makes people who are hurt by words often weak. I am someone who generally tries to watch what I say, but at the same time I try to think how the other side of the conversation processes word watching.
As a student Social Justice Leader, many of my friends call me the most woke out of all of them. Initially, I had to look up what this term means. Basically, I am more than just physically awake; I am socially aware of what is going on in the world. I am proud to be considered socially aware and woke as my friends would say, but it comes with A LOT of responsibility. Really, it is more than just watching your words, it also includes knowing why you are too.
I go to college in the Bronx, the poorest borough of New York City. I often involve myself in the Bronx community around my campus with work and service opportunities, but I am unfortunately in the minority of my school’s population. Most students rarely venture off campus unless it is to the local subway station or to go to the local bars and clubs– they never get to see the amazing community we live in because more often than not, they are afraid of the world outside of our gates. These students are considered asleep.
This is very frustrating for me because on campus, these students sometimes speak very ill of the Bronx and they do not even venture around the borough at all. Sometimes these students have the gumption to speak of social injustices that “exist in the US” without realizing that most of them are most prevalent here. The thing about being woke is, you have to, essentially, practice what you preach. It is not just about what you post on Facebook or Twitter.
What is your definition of true freedom? There is no true freedom without economic freedom.
— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) February 24, 2016
Okay, so it is important to understand social injustices in general, but it is more important to actually act on them. If you are going to say you care about immigration policies, don’t dress up as an “illegal alien” for Halloween. If you are going to say you care about equal education, volunteer with an organization like Jumpstart instead of just Tweeting about it. If you are going to complain about the candidates for president, be civically active and vote.
To be woke is so much more than just Tweeting about social issues or asking for change; it’s working with communities to create the changes they want to see.
What Should I do?
So, you may be asking yourself, what should I do? Isn’t it too hard?
Read. I read the news every single day and not just the big name news outlets but also local ones. It is not enough to just read from the perspective of The New York Times or The Wall Street Journal. Small voices matter too. Read books too, and don’t just read the classics. Read everything and anything. Get perspectives; learn something; talk about it.
Experience. I leave my campus’ gates constantly. Don’t shelter yourself. Feel comfortable feeling uncomfortable. Think and try to understand why you feel uncomfortable. Then, try and reflect on this feeling. It is absolutely incredible what you can discover about the world around you and yourself from just reflecting.
Talk. Don’t stay silent. Tell your friends; take them with you to discover. Reflect with them. Spread the word at clubs, online, to your family.
Don’t be afraid to speak your mind and never be afraid of what others think of you. You will be better off yourself. The more people who are socially aware, the better the world will be. It’s important to remember while you are Tweeting or commenting on a Facebook post about your views on different issues, that there is more to justice than just the click of a mouse.