Hi. My name is Trent and I’m White and I’m Woke.
This is my first time at this kind of meeting, but trust me, I go to A LOT of meetings. Like, earlier today, I was RSVPing YES to a bunch of Facebook invites from the Black Lives Matter groups I’m a member of. I probably won’t be able to go to all of them, because of work, but sometimes you have to say YES so that people who are on the fence about coming out for the cause get that extra push, ya know?
Wow. It just feels really good to be here, sitting and listening to your experiences.
Snaps to Korinne, BTW. When she was sharing about how lonely and scary being Woke can feel when you’re White, I was like “YASSSS KWEEN! That’s why we NEED this safe space!” It really can feel like you’re the only Woke person in your family or office or friend group. Not that they’re bad people, but they’re just sleepwalking, man.
That reminds me… I’m pre-writing this Twitter rant about how the White family structure is inherently structurally biased against White people who are Woke that you should really check out when it’s done. Follow me at SELF AWARE CIS (that’s C-I-S) GENDERED WHITE MALE. There’s an underscore between White and male.
Truth be told, I’m pretty exhausted.
You. Simply. Can. Not. Sleep. On. Being. Woke.
Think about it:
One of your 37 Black friends posting something on Facebook at 3:00 A.M.? Liked. Or Angry-faced. Or Crying-guyed. Whatever’s the most Woke emoji for the situation.
Your Latina coworker being asked to translate something into Spanish? You gotta step to that mierda, like, AYER, muchacho. I don’t care that she’s part of the marketing team for your startup that deals with South American accounts. That’s a straight up xenophobic expectation for her to have to do it every time or else she gets fired… it might be her job but it’s not her JOB, jefe.
Or maybe your Mom (who went to Vassar and STILL doesn’t know better) is texting you about a movie she wants to see. You gotta send her back a livestream of some grassroots reporting from the North Dakota Pipeline front lines. Immediately. Unless she’s texting about Beasts of No Nation, which is totally eye-opening and important, but coulda used DiCaprio, IMHO.
I’m the first to admit I know I’ve got White Privilege. I know I was lucky enough to be born in a position where I don’t have to devote resources to overcoming institutional, socioeconomic, or childhood cultural obstacles. Which puts me in a unique perspective to see all of these issues clearly and objectively.
Until tonight, I was dead scared I was the only one who saw that this burden of privilege is ACTUALLY a privilege. Like a double negative, like Paul said.
I think it’s an honor that we’re in this situation where our privilege makes our view of injustice is SO unobstructed that we can see the situation BETTER than the people who are affected by it. Like, they’re too close to the fire and obviously never read Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, because education or Baltimore or whatever. We all saw Season 4 of The Wire.
Sometimes, I feel like I see things so clearly that I find myself correcting one of my 37 Black friends who should really read James Baldwin. Queer AND Black. FYI.
And, If I’m being TOTALLY honest, I’m not even sure if this girl I’ve been dating, who’s Black, reads the Shaun King articles I share with her on Facebook. She’s still my Queen, but that hurts. We’re supposed to be a team, man.
End of the day, you just can’t let your brother or hermana or queer cousin from another mother go to sleep thinking you don’t know about the struggle. The struggle is real!
I guess what I’m trying to say is, at this point, the most important thing you can do on a daily basis to stay Woke is reminding your oppressed friends that you’re on their side. They have to know that you know and have their backs. And not just by changing your profile picture to the rainbow filter. Or posting a sick takedown video from Occupy Democrats. You have to be more Woke than that. That’s Woke 101.
I’ve found you have to actively shout it at them. You have to tag them in that video, tweet at them, make super-self-aware Woke jokes when you hang out about The Patriarchy or touching an African Queen’s hair without asking, ESPECIALLY if the conversation isn’t outwardly about The Patriarchy or Black hair, because part of being Woke is always assuming SOMEONE was thinking it. And even if they weren’t? It never hurts to remind people that you’re there to keep it 100, am I right?
But even then, some days, man…
None of my 37 Black friends tag me in their posts about unfair sentencing. I don’t get invited to any gay weddings. And I can’t tell you the last time someone donated to ANY of the GoFundMe accounts I started. I’m trying to make the people know and all I want is a little props. I don’t even necessarily think my shit should go viral… I’d settle for just one thank you for all Woke work I do on these people’s behalf. On the daily.
Now that I think about it, only Terrence consistently retweets me. But that’s even kinda sour, cause the other day, I saw him retweet something from Target to enter a competition for a free gift card… Yeah, I feel you Mike. I know that look. I may need to remind him about how consumerism is a disease in the Black community. Because it seems like nobody else has.
God, that felt good to get off my chest. Wow. Coming here and being with you Woke people has been so refreshing.
Jeff, Skylar, I specifically want to thank you for inviting me tonight. When I saw you guys in that comment war with the racist troll on that immigration facts post from the Lake Forest for Bernie iGram, I knew I had to DM you immediately. I feel like you feel me. Because I feel you.
Thank you for letting me share. It’s good to know that there are other White people out there like me. In my own community.