Like many people who’ve been sitting through this so-called Presidency, I had decided, for the sake of my mental health that I would just ignore the next four years and someone could just tap me when the nonsense was over. Like I said before, I care about my edges.
But if I’m staying woke, I can’t close my eyes to the things I don’t wanna see. If anything, I need to be more vigilant and active and less jaded and passive.
But I needed a spark. I needed a community.
As I scrolled down my Facebook timeline, I saw this event hosted by Shaun King that would be happening in NYC called The Launch of Woke Folks, so of course I’m in there.
Shaun sends a bunch of updates on the event page and the more he reaches out, the more I realize that there are so many people yearning for connection and change. The event filled up so fast, he had to hold two consecutive sessions. In order to feel like I was getting the exclusive, I went to the first session.
Here are my take-away’s:
- “We’re in the dip.” So real quick, here’s the recap: In the beginning of his presentation, Shaun has a picture projected of an old White dude named Leopold von Ranke. He is considered “the father of the study of history.” Leopold compiled all of this historical information and came to the conclusion that the rate of improvement in technology was making the world better. Better as in more convenient.
But it wasn’t making people any better.
Shaun presented an upward trend for technology but showed a very different trend for people’s ability to be humane. That chart looked more like peaks and valleys. He said if we accepted the idea that as technology gets better, so does our humanity, then we wouldn’t have had slavery, the Holocaust or the Rwandan Genocide. Preach!
The fact is that we’re in the dip of humanity right now. We are not our best selves. If anything, we are probably the worst we’ve ever been as human beings. This is sad because on the other hand, our Mac Books are the best they’ve ever been. So basically, we can upgrade our devices a whole lot easier than we can upgrade our decency. Damn Gina!
“Why is Amerikkka in the dip?” America likes its power structure the same way O.J. likes his women…White. Any time there is a disruption to the powers that be, all hell breaks loose. Shaun, in his diplomacy, calls this disruption an introduction of an innovation, which is just fancy talk for Black folks are moving up.
Let’s look at this historically: Every time there’s an advancement for Black people, there’s an obstacle right in front of it:
Emancipation and Reconstruction are followed by Jim Crow laws and the Ku Klux Klan.
The Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act of the 1960s are followed by mass incarceration and the War on Drugs aka The War on Poor, Black People.
Barack Obama becoming the first Black President is followed by Orange is the new White aka y’alls president.
We are in the dip because White folks lose their minds any time they perceive, what they consider to be a Black threat. More rights for Blacks somehow has come to mean fewer rights for White folks and this is their way of protecting themselves from reverse racism and all kinds of shit that they make up in their heads.
So Now What?
In that auditorium last night, we all felt a sense that we weren’t doing enough. Hell, I know I did. I speak and write about problems in the Black community and in our schools but what is the action behind the complaint? We’re all great at pointing out problems. When all else fails, scream that capitalism ain’t shit, rant about White Supremacy on your social media page then go to sleep feeling good about telling the world off.
But that can’t be it.
One of the things I noticed is that many of the people in the crowd were teachers and former teachers. Even Shaun King was a middle school history teacher. We all want to do something but we don’t want to burn ourselves out. We just want to go back to a time when it was easier to complain than to risk getting killed, fired or thrown in jail.
Here’s where we left off and some food for thought that could possibly get us on the right track to seeing some type of change:
Awareness does not equal responsibility. We cannot intellectualize ourselves into change. People can see what’s going on but that doesn’t mean that they will change their behavior or get involved to create change. Evidence that things are unjust hasn’t gotten us results. Actions get results.
“Policy is not keeping up with the world.” Our world is changing in demographics, skills and values but our policies aren’t reflecting that. If we wait for this White House to do anything responsive to the changing culture and representation in this country, we might as well pack our shit and get on our own boats and leave. We have to do the work at the local level and get involved and well acquainted with our assemblymen, mayors, governors and congress people.
Self-care is important. Shaun empathized with our tired faces and stated that this work is draining so you gotta turn it off sometimes. Turn off the technology, stay off the timelines and unplug from the ugliness of the world. Have dinner and talk with your family and just make time for yourself. We need to be active but we also need to be healthy, physically, mentally and spiritually (True in my 2Chainz voice).
Shaun left us with a few to-do’s.
Think about where you bank and how you invest your money. Don’t give your coins to institutions that aid in your oppression.
Tackle one cause at a time. There were a lot of people present with a lot of competing interests but we can’t pull in different directions cause we’ll just get further away from community and actually seeing change on a large scale.
Let NY be a model for the work that needs to happen everywhere else. We all showed up last night because we want to see change, we pride ourselves on our diversity and we need to show that we can produce results so we gotta get to work.
I’m wit all of that. I’m looking forward to the work ahead. In the meantime, I plan to nourish my mind and stay with my community ‘cause if we plan on getting anything done, we gotta do it together.
Thank you for this report-back. I appreciate the information shared by Shaun at the program.
Also, your response reminded me of a quotation by Arundhati Roy, an Indian novelist and activist:
“Find out where your fit in. The battles are ongoing.”