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Being Woke in 2020

Hello, welcome to the Revolution.

As the media (social and news) has exploded with information about Black Lives Matter, how to be an ally, how you should be a comrade and not an ally, what you can do to help, what you should stop doing to help, it gets tiring drinking from a fire hose.

There seem to be some common themes within all of this:

  • donate
  • educate yourself
  • attend protests
  • listen to BIPOC about their experiences


Tired: Donate a couple of $20s to the ACLU or the BLM office in your location.
Wired: Donate sustainably every month.

A lot of articles online have pointed out great orgs that you can and should donate to in their fight for racial justice. Donating once helps for now, but does not in the long term help the fight. Donate what you can, and feel good about whatever you do. The general sentiment here is not to donate once, but to donate monthly. If donating monthly means you only give $20, that's fine! Your donations will add up over time! If you can only afford to give once right now, you also shouldn't feel shame in doing the things that you are capable of. The general theme here is sustainability. Do what you can, in a sustainable way.

Educate yourself

Tired: Consume media by black authors, read books about racism, listen to podcasts about systemic, structural racism.
Wired: Consume information AND think deeply about the things you are consuming.

Simply reading a book or reading a podcast is not enough to combat systemic racism. You must think deeply about your role in society based on your identity and how you have perpetrated acts of aggression (micro or macro) against other BIPOC. You must think about the impacts that you can make in your most local spheres, whether that is within your family/friends, your workplace, or your place of worship. You must keep moving forward. Keep learning, keep reflecting, and never stop listening.


Wired: Attend a protest.
Electrified: Attend a protest and use your privilege (aka not-blackness or not-brownness) to protect black and brown people with your body

There is nothing tired about attending protests. Showing solidarity regardless of your skin color DOES make a change. Using your body to protect black and brown protesters means you put your physical self on the front lines of protesting. Police brutalizing innocent black/brown people is not triggering enough to white people, but seeing innocent white people beaten down in the streets is a call to arms. It makes white people see that police brutality is bad for EVERYONE, and that even "good", "peaceful" protesters are being attacked in the streets.

If you cannot attend protests because you are part of an at-risk population for coronavirus, handicapped, or otherwise afraid for your health/wellbeing that is ok. Do what you can, and don't feel bad about it.


Tired: Listen to BIPOC
Wired: Listen to BIPOC and do not talk

This is Not Your Time. Now is the time to listen to the voices of the marginalized. When someone offers up their experiences to you, they are often extremely hurtful things that have happened and have been scarring. It is not your time to offer empathy ("I've got a similar experience"), offer your thoughts, or otherwise comment other than, "Thank you for sharing your experience." Now is the time to amplify those voices, not drown them out with your sympathy/empathy/thoughts. Listen to those experiences and think deeply on them. Have you done something like this in the past? Probably. Have you committed micro aggressions? Yes. Accept that you are imperfect and Do Better moving forward.

In conclusion...

One of the great misconceptions is that being Woke is a destination rather than a journey. Being Woke is a growing experience, and you are never done learning. This requires deep thought and contemplation about your role in society based on your gender, sexuality, ethnicity, race, and physical ability. This is uncomfortable to think about, and reflecting on how you've wronged others in the past because of your privilege in society is especially painful. Apologize for things that you've done to the people you've hurt (if you so desire), and hold yourself accountable to Do Better. The journey to becoming Woke is not a straight line; it will have setbacks, moving forward two steps only to move two steps back, and some triumphs as well. It is often messy, emotional, and unpleasant. BUT, you are Doing the Work. Other people cannot Do the Work for you.

Discussion (1)

ben profile image
Ben Halpern

Hell yeah