To Stay Woke Or Not To Stay Woke. That Is The Question.
December 5, 2017
There is a song that came out last year called “Redbone” by Danny Glover (aka Childish Gambino). The song is basically about a man being insecure in a relationship with a woman. The lyric Black America took to from this song was; “STAY WOKE, dudes is creepin. They gone find you, catch you sleepin”. These two words, #staywoke, became a hashtag and took on a new life of it’s on, surpassing the song itself. People are now using “stay woke” to mean be aware of your surroundings such as family members, personal issues, social, political and economic situations.
When I see the hash tagged phrase I reflect to a different time, 1988. A young director named Spike Lee put out a movie called School Daze and in that movie Spike discussed the racial divide related to apartheid. The movie also delved into the classism of light skinned blacks and dark skinned blacks on the campus of “Mission College” which was filmed at Morehouse and Morris Brown Colleges located in Atlanta.
At the end of the movie Lawrence Fishburne, playing the character Dap, is seen running in the Morehouse yard and as he gets to the camera he slows his run and starts screaming “WAKE UPPPPPPPPP” (clip is just below this paragraph). For the next three minutes he goes to various dorm rooms and attempts to “wake up” his fellow students. In the end you see dozens of black college students, administrators and professors standing in the square. Giancarlo Esposito playing the role of Julian “Big Brother Almighty” Eaves is standing next to Fishburne and the last thing he says into the camera is, “Please. Wake up.”
Fast forward to 2017 and I was listening to Redbone when the similarity between the movie and the song hit me and this question popped in my head, “How can you STAY woke if you NEVER woke up to begin with?” Think about it. Thirty years have gone by between the time School Daze debuted and Redbone created the hashtag and what has changed? Nothing. Most people are still asleep. We have the same problems today that we had 30 years ago. Adults say the teenagers music sucks. Republicans are trying to suppress the middle class. Racism is still rampant. There are internal family fights. The cycle just continues.
Being honest, I have tried to “Wake Up” people with conversation, my writings and even my actions. Some times I can get through and other times I can’t. It can be frustrating because people will tell you to “stay in your lane” not realizing that you are in your lane. That person simply doesn’t want to hear the truth. You KNOW they KNOW that what is being spoken is true. Because that truth hits close to home they don’t want to address it so they become an ostrich and bury their head in the sand.
I talk with people who are of a like mind and we discuss how to get folks to “WAKE UP” and “STAY WOKE” and the conversation always ends in the anaolgy, “Leading a horse to water.” My collective agrees that we should continue to encourage people to see the truth but admittedly it’s a hard thing to do when that person is too damn comfortable in their PJ’s.
So if you are one of these people that screams “Stay woke” maybe you should ask yourself……Did I ever wake up when the truth was given to me?