You may want to remain engaged, in all of this, the shout and hum, and do your essential part, and see through the discussion, and fight for and with those who need and stand alongside you. And at some point, someone, somewhere, will demand your bonafides.
They will demand to know the terms and pronouns you comfortably identify and use, and how impactfully and readily you code switch, and how urgently you strip and disdain your layers of privilege. This will need to all be surface.
It worries me, you know. Not the awakening of those willing to do the work. No. That is the human condition burning bright. What worries me is this new class system, and our inability to operate outside of the echo chamber, and the armies of doers rushing out prior to staging their attacks and failing to see their motivations, and this new honorific, woke.
I never really sat comfortably with the idea of being woke, for any of us. As a Psychologist, I could rest comfortably with mindful, and socially and civically aware, and connected, engaged and active, but there was something that unsettled me about one being called, known and self-identified as woke.
I fear that we are well past the point where we can tame that particular beast, woke. It is well off of the leash and is never heeding our call, again.
I can recall a time when the term, the word, woke, was full of hope and camaraderie and forward momentum. It was a shared compliment, and a bit of sun. I feel less confident, now, about where that word is, woke, as it feels so remarkably strange, and clouded, and often time, profane. We have beaten it into some other weapon, fit to draw our necessary pound of flesh.
Woke is no longer a state, and I can assure you it was prior. It was a place, a juncture for those who had thought so, and believed so, and done so, and were ever anxious to see their efforts manifest as change in the world. These many were the altruistic, the purposeful, and the supposedly enlightened.
And somewhere, somewhen, there came an arms race. And somewhen, woke, went from being an armor and a way of knowing and living, to being a distinction. It became a rank, one fitted and tethered to emotional and social currency. It became a goal.
Causes can be a dangerous thing, as they are subject to the human condition. Causes which draw on the energy of all those assembled, can then be leveraged toward fame, notoriety and station. People, those looking for some means to leave their mark, assuage guilt, make downward social comparisons, justify their existence, will gravitate toward spaces and opportunities and movements where they may reinvent themselves, and craft personal monuments and grandstand.
Being woke, such as we came to know it, was never truly meant to be a goal, a resting place. It was never intended to be a meme, or some means of separating the informed and engaged from the knuckle dragging proletariat. Yet, that is essentially the point to which we have dragged ourselves.
We have arrived at the precipice, over which we congratulate ourselves for gaining the rank, and seek out opportunities to demonstrate that we have outworked those not quite so work, and are well-read and heeled, and are actively ascending toward some woke Nirvana, where we may determine who may join us, and all those who have fallen from the ranks of said woke.
We collectively, so many of our movements, have forgotten that our goals, collectively, remain to advocate for, and promote change with, people. In our life as most woke, we have lost a bit of our empathy, and humility, and have become gluttonous in our demand for esteem and recognition.
With our knowing that we are here to protect, know, understand, and partner with, people, we must re-examine our approach to understanding ourselves, and how we move our causes through the greater human community. I would hope that we would wish, at our best, to be examples of a sort.
I wonder about this, often, as I willfully enter the fray of wellness in my own community.
I am Black. Full stop. My folks and family are Black. Also full stop. We, at present, are dealing with means for destabilizing and disconnecting the many toxic cables and lines linked to our understanding of ourselves as women, children, men, Americans, and family.
One of our major focus areas is in battling the presence of toxic masculinity, and its many generational tendrils, which wish to remain alive with us.
I see two essential processes which we must always promote if we are to promote and evolve these conversations, and eventually direct change.
Before identifying those, let us know that toxic masculinity is a true and present sickness in community. Let us also know that we fail to appropriately regard, treat and engage those living with the condition. We often fail to see the human failings, and how the symptoms rest with the afflicted, and how the contribute to their fallout, favoring instead, a stance of distancing ourselves while wrapping ourselves warmly in our cloak of being woke, and thus somehow, better.
If true wellness, regardless of all of this, is our goal, first, there must always be flexible emotional, personal and physical spaces for sisters and brothers to process. Processing spaces must be crafted and erected wherever there is a need for them. Sisters, in particular, must stop being asked to explain themselves and to tailor messages that sooth and save us all. It promotes a kind of type D personality functioning, and wounds sisters, demanding they carry ever more weight. Processing spaces, if they are appropriately purposed, allow for sisters to speak and rage and shout and sing and dance and write their existences and feelings and persons in whatever ways they see fit, for as long as they need, and for whatever purposes they identify as being essential in that moment. How the remainder of us feel about that is inconsequential. Those times and spaces for processing are for sisters wellness. Full stop. These spaces, actual and emotional and ethereal must be sacred and sovereign, and so sisters can dis-invite the rest of us from these spaces, or demand silence, or request our presence, as they see fit. Full stop. I focus here on sisters occupying these spaces, and crafting and maintaining these spaces, and celebrating these spaces, and making them spaces for their utility, guilt free, as sisters often struggle with mental load, keeping our spine straight, and our breath steady, as a community. There must be a space for rest, and recovery, and an outpouring. Processing. Full stop.
Second, we must effectively engage brothers in these conversations, and to be clear, we have not set out to do so. If we are to begin setting out to process, then we need not establish an agenda for engaging brothers in any dialogue. If, however, our goal in a given set of moments is not to process, but rather to engage and shift and grow and meet with brothers, to have them, us, acknowledge and know our toxicity, and the means by which we have been conscripted to the service of upholding and lusting after White Supremacy, we must see brothers humanity. Shouting down to it has not proven fruitful. Neither has name-calling. Neither has establishing those who are most woke on the condition of brothers, and crafting combative narrative. There can, and must, be effective challenge to brothers, certainly. We cannot infantilize brothers and expect growth, that would be equally unkind. We must meet brothers where they often are, damaged, and privileged, and haughty, and broken, should our goal be progress, and work our way forward. We must also know that we cannot save all. We never could, and that was never possible.
None of that is to say that we have to tolerate unwellness, and excuse it. No. Rather, we should see humanity, and know where it has been wounded, and then speak to that, and remove ourselves from its presence before it wounds and crafts unwellness in us. We should obligate ourselves to heal ourselves and our humanity, and return to the work when we are most ready and best energized.
In this time of being most woke, as a distinction and near gang initiation, we have taken to distancing ourselves from those who we claim to which to bring change about in, seeing their words and ways as personal traits and blood rite, not as symptoms of the greater diseases being visited upon them.
There is far more, layered, but we are here, as we irresponsibly using our obsession, woke, as a crutch and melee weapon, and so back to woke.
I step away from those moments now, where we celebrate woke, as a concept, as it is now bastardized and thrives on exclusivity and showy demonstrations of being.
I would consider that we all, all those of us who wish to promote true change in the human condition, to consider the humans living with the deeds and beliefs. We can hold these many accountable for these, and still reasonably see how they feed themselves, willfully, that poison, and drink of Supremacy, and fight to stay free of the jaws of our apex predator. That requires empathy, and consideration, well beyond simple correction, and shaming and being right, which has become too great a focus of ours. And that may be the fatigue that has set in, that we are tired of fighting and gaining so little ground, and needing our family to join us for their own sake, we may be exhausted, and resentful as a result, and irritable. We can forgive ourselves that, and then reframe, and redirect.
I’d be okay if we left this, all this woke, with all of its medals and awards, and agreement, and its belittling patois and narcissism, behind. At least until we are prepared to examine how we grow it in ourselves, and whether our condition, here, now, is fertile soil.