That’s the question on everyone’s mind.
Or at least on my mind.
We all have to be active and resilient during these trying times, but unfortunately doing that causes serious bouts of overwhelm and frustration.
This often leads to major anxiety and distressing thoughts.
This may not be the case for everyone, but for those who do suffer from this, please keep on reading.
What does it mean to be woke? What does being woke mean?
To be woke means to attain knowledge about and question why, society and systems function the way they do. This includes knowledge about government actions, discrimination with regards to race, gender, or colour. The purpose of being woke is to challenge these injustices and systemic issues that exist in the world around us.
Thanks to social media, these injustices are more visible than ever before. So it isn’t enough to just have the knowledge or know about the injustices to be woke, you have to do something.
This includes active deprogramming, unlearning of social and cultural impositions and expectations, and challenging the norms that we are all being made to follow without sound rhyme or reason.
My 10th grade English teacher used to flourish this quote when our class was acting up,
“Where ignorance is bliss, ’tis folly to be wise.”
It is from a poem by Thimas Gray.
In this scenario to be wise is to be woke, and it is not a matter of choice anymore. It is a question of your humanity.
What can you do to be woke? How can you/ How can I be woke?
These are excellent questions.
It may not be possible to do everything, but we can do something. Even the smallest steps matter.
There is one simple answer to the question and this is the easiest first step to being woke.
STEP 1: LEARN
Before you close the tab, I don’t mean from textbooks.
Although if you could learn from textbooks it would be great. But I don’t think most of the injustices we are facing are covered in textbooks.
You can learn by…
- Reading Books – Here are some links you can bookmark, in order to have a directory of books to refer to. Or you can just bookmark this page, as it will contain all the links.
- Books on Racism
- Books on Caste System in India
- Books on Gender inequality –
In-depth research-driven books
General perspectives and stories
- Books on Feminism
- Books on Gender Identity
- Sources for Yemen Crisis Information
- Books on Climate Change
2. Watching Documentaries
Only these two sections are full of reference links, I promise.
- Documentaries on Racism
- Feminist Documentaries (please note these are not documentaries on feminism. They just a have a feminist theme or nuances of feminism)
- Documentaries on LGBTQIA+ community and Gender Identity
- Documentaries on Climate Change
- Documentaries on Climate change in India
- India Untouched – Documentary based on Caste Discrimination
- Indian Films on Caste System
If anyone has any recommendations on documentaries about underprivileged in India, leave them in the comments below.
3. Listening to Podcasts
4. Watching YouTube videos directly from leaders in the movement who are actually making a difference and don’t watch the news
5. Following social media accounts that give video and pictorial proof of live injustices, because media channels continue to promote their biased narrative.
For the Black Lives Matter movement – follow @shaunking on Instagram
6. Checking out websites relating to different movements and issues
7. Listening to people from underprivileged and overlooked communities, whether you see them in real life or on social media.
Let them narrate their experiences. Do not explain their problem to them, EVER. You could never possibly fully understand what it’s like to be them.
STEP 2: TAKE ACTION
The next step is to take action
Now don’t be scared by this step. It is crucial.
Here are a few ways you can take action:
1.Donate, donate, donate
As much as you can. To any cause that is close to your heart, donate at least a little bit. It helps.
2. Have discussions
This is a slightly scarier step. It is not something you can do from the comfort of your bed. You have to talk to people in your life -family, friends, co-workers, strangers, followers, etc.
If any of them are making incorrect statements, gently start a conversation with them. Send them resources, talk it through, don’t run away from it. This conversation can have a ripple effect on other people in their life.
Be kind and respectful, if the conversation gets aggressive, please walk away.
Change.org and other sites have multiple petitions targeting various issues and injustices, sign as many as you can.
4. Message, Contact leaders and Changemakers
If there are any people in your community or the government that you trust to make changes, contact them through social media or email.
5. Make social media posts and videos
Share your knowledge. As long as you have solid information in the form of books, statistics, videos of important leaders, feel free to share and keep sharing. I know it may be scary to put your face out there. You can opt for animated videos, ppts, graphic posts, a pdf, a story, an open letter, anything and everything counts.
6. Share social media posts of other activism accounts
Please fact check first though. I have made that mistake a few times.
Two ways to see if an account is legit or just spewing hate:
- Read the comments section
- See if any notable people from the fighting communities are following this account.
Protesting is the quickest way to drive action but in this Corona climate, it may not be the healthiest choice.
STEP 3: BE HUMBLE AND BE OPEN
This is the final step and is more important than the other two because, if you cry woke and aren’t open to change and understanding then you will be creating a whole other problem.
Do not consider your wokeness to be the ultimate state of wokeness.
There will always be someone who knows more and does more than you. Unless you are planning on becoming the next Martin Luther King or Mother Teresa, do not be ashamed or afraid to be corrected. Actually even if you are planning to become the next them, still be open to being checked now and then.
And people will correct you, if you are wrong.
It’s not as bad as you think it is. In fact, it’s a good thing.
It means there are more people who care about these issues, which is always an amazing thing.
Accept your mistakes, learn, and keep going.
Don’t let the incident deter the impact you could have on changing societal infractions.
Now that you know how to be woke, let’s move on to protecting your mental health.
How to be woke without losing your mind
1.Recognize your privilege but do not hate on it
If you are not out there starving, suffering or barely surviving – you have it better than quite a few people. This means that the system is kind of working in your favour. It is your job as the privileged to ensure it works for all communities and people, and not just for you and people like you.
It’s okay to feel guilty. It’s a common human reaction when you see others suffering. But understand with privilege comes power, and try to understand more what it’s like to be underprivileged or overlooked using the above-mentioned steps.
2. Social media breaks
If it gets too much for your brain to handle and you experience any of the following – trouble falling asleep, constantly thinking distressing thoughts, feeling restless, inability to eat or be positive, SHUT YOUR PHONE OFF!
Unless you are a government official or a leader in the community, you can afford to not look at social media for a day or two. YES A DAY OR TWO, A WEEK IF YOU CAN!
A couple of hours isn’t going to be enough, at a time like this. We are being constantly bombarded with information. Our mind needs a total break.
There will always be more change waiting to be made when you can handle it.
If you want some advice on how to stop using social media, you can check out this post here.
3. Get it out of your system
Talk to like-minded people and have an open honest discussion about the situation. It really helps.
Call up your friends and family or go to the other room if you are living with them, and have a chat (this is only for people who will understand). If you talk to someone who doesn’t get it, that will require more energy from you and more mental stress.
If talking about it is difficult – write about it, make videos or posts about it, record yourself talking about it.
4. Do the Work
Actually, take some of the learning and action steps mentioned above. Read, watch, listen, donate, write, create, speak up. Do something, do anything.
It will convince you that you did something, and that’s always better than doing nothing.
We live in a generation where we can spur change sitting on our beds, so why not do it?
With that we come to the end of this post.
History will keep repeating itself, systems will keep collapsing, and humanity will continue to hurt, if we do nothing.
It’s a lot to take on, and I completely understand how overwhelming it can be. But in the words of Emma Watson-
If not us then whom? If not now then when?
If you found this post even remotely helpful, please leave a comment below.
If you have any more tips or resources, leave them in the comments below and I will add them to the post.
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