Here’s my latest Complexion Chronicles column for Multiracial Media:
Being “woke” suggests a relatively new dawning of awareness or consciousness. One can be exposed to information and even digest that information intellectually before it trickles up to actual awareness or activism. And when someone does achieve a new level of wokeness, that doesn’t fast-track them to a flawlessly consistent brand of political consciousness in all of their attitudes, beliefs and behaviors.
Real growth, real consciousness-growing is messy, inconsistent and full of our human contradictions and flaws. Especially when it comes to race, religion and gender-sexual identity—all of which most folks have very deep feelings and ideas about. Some of us are born into families, cultures and communities that program us about ourselves and those considered “other.” Others develop these feelings and attitudes en route to adulthood. Whatever our beliefs and actions, they’re unfolding against a backdrop of institutionalized programming so deep, wide and pervasive that it’s unreasonable to expect most of us to zoom from “woke” to absolutely consistency without traversing the difficult, awkward obstacle course of real growth and activism.
This reminds me of the lyrics to Tower of Power’s 1976 jam, “Can’t Stand to See the Slaughter”:
I can’t stand to see the slaughter
but still I eat the meat
I can’t stand dishonest people
but still sometimes I cheat
I can’t stand that air pollution
but still I drive a car
Maybe them’s the reasons why
things is like they are
Political activism cannot wait for or rely upon everyone to be completely free of their own contradictions, biases and hypocrisy. Social movements don’t have the luxury of requiring political purity.