Naturally, as humans, we have our own unique sets of problems. It is easy, when assessing someone’s actions or success, to assume that they, and everyone else has been handed the same set of cards that we have. Unfortunately, that’s not how the world works, and many, many people encounter hardships and road-blocks based on their gender, sexuality, socio-economic income, race, and more.
It’s easy, no matter how much we’d like to support others in the fight against unjust systems, to look down at our own lives, and think, I have too much going on. How am I supposed to make time to learn about one more thing, especially something that doesn’t personally affect me on daily basis?
Think about it this way: Yes, you may, as a woman, a woman of color, an LGBTQ-identifying woman, a woman with a disability, have a deep understanding of what oppresses you. You cannot escape from it. But just as you expect an ally in your daily fight, you should extend your allyship to another.
And if you don’t quite understand their fight, take the time to learn. No one expects you to have full knowledge of their struggle, just the determination to understand.
Life is busy, and messy, and time-consuming, but if we are all truly striving to be compassionate, supportive, and loving in through our actions, staying woke is a commitment that we need to make.
Here are some ways to stay woke in a crunch.
INVEST IN A BOOK, AND READ IT.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is woke-ness.
No one’s telling you to read textbook after textbook on privilege and microagressions and all of the “isms.” You don’t have to finish the book in a week, or even a day, and the book doesn’t have to be 200 plus pages with clinical studies and dozens of footnotes.
Start by reading just one book, a few pages a day. There’s no need to to even fork out your own money: many great books can be found at your local library. You’ll be surprised how much you can learn if you just stick with it. For those who are still struggling with the idea of intersectional privilege, I recommend starting with “Privilege, Power and Difference,” by Allan G. Johnson.
SET ASIDE TIME TO TALK.
Once you’ve done some reading, set aside some time each month to meet up with a friend and just listen to their experiences. Try not to argue and interject, but instead, let them share how things feel from their point of view.
If they are uncomfortable with sharing, don’t pressure them, but do explain that you are trying to become more educated. Be careful that your questions are specifically about them; it is often uncomfortable for people when it appears they are being asked to speak on behalf of everyone who identifies similarly to them.
READ THE NEWS.
An easy way to stay up-to-date without spending your whole day on the Internet, catching up? Subscribe to newsletters like the New York Times’ Morning Briefing, or Mic’s MicCheck Daily for daily updates and news summaries.
In time, it will get easier to stay woke. In the words of Yara Shahidi, “wokeness is a spectrum. It takes time and effort, but it doesn’t have to be exhausting.”
What is a way you and your vina stay woke? Comment below!
(Featured images via @uoseattle)