Amid the Black Lives Matter movement in 2014-16 came a resurgence of an age old concept – one that is vital not just to individuals, but to communities everywhere. Being “woke” or “staying woke” became the battle cry for the cause.
The word “woke” and the phrase “stay woke” have continued to gain popularity since then, and in ways that involve more and more Americans. Originally, “woke” or “stay woke” referred to advising African-Americans to stay aware and focused on those issues that pertain to racial or social justice. The African-American Vernacular English expression “stay woke” means stay focused on issues of importance and do not get distracted by meaningless diversions.
Now, the word and term are catching on in a broader sense. Are you woke? Are you staying woke? What is the level of your wokeness? I guess we can thank millennial activists and social media for launching this term into our mainstream vocabulary. For this brief editorial, I am going to define the word “woke” as a byword for general social and political awareness. Even though the phrase was used almost exclusively in the context of Black Lives Matter referencing racial concerns and concerns over social justice, its broader meaning began taking hold around 2015.
The term morphed into a more general term meaning just being aware of your surroundings. So, using this more generic definition of “woke,” I ask: Fayetteville and Cumberland County, are you woke?
In other words, are you aware of the social and political environment? And, if you are woke, what are you doing to get involved and to influence the outcomes of these social and political situations? Or, are you going to choose not to be woke, meaning that you intentionally make an effort not to be aware of your social or political surroundings or the elements that influence them?
Unfortunately, the majority of our local population is not woke. And, it really isn’t their fault. It is difficult to stay woke in our community when we lack the traditional vehicles of communication that are enjoyed by other communities. It’s difficult to stay woke when you don’t have a local TV station or other traditional media outlets providing a continual thread of unbiased news and information. Yes, Fayetteville and Cumberland County is a news media and information desert. It is way too easy for people not to stay woke. In fact, it takes major effort to stay woke.
I do feel that Fayetteville and Cumberland County do a great job when it comes to being aware of social issues like addressing homelessness and fighting hunger and drug-related problems.
I’ll conclude by saying that the leadership of Fayetteville and Cumberland County are highly aware of the factors affecting the social, political and economic environment of our communities. The question is whether they will communicate with each other to convert this awareness into positive and tangible initiatives.
Let’s all hope so. There is so much opportunity for growth in our community, not only economically, but for love, fairness, understanding, tolerance, goodness and happiness. It all starts with a conversation. Not an indictment.
Thank you for reading Up & Coming Weekly. You can bet that we are woke! And, the fact that you are reading this publication means you are, too.