The Trouble With Being Woke.

There’s so many things my heart is racing to put to this page. Insights that only through gazing into one’s on heartache, darkness, and shit could I even comprehend.

That sounded like a bunch of nothing so let me clean it up. I want to share with you the revelation that came to me this week, and with it share the darkness it brought. From there I will take your hand and walk with you through the shit and tell you a tale of heartache. Till finally we emerge better on the other side.

I will speak to you of what the cool kids call, “wokeness” and share the knowledge that cannot be unlearned. And here is where the dump truck of life freed it’s shit all over my carefully planned out life.

I recently went to go see the film, “I Am Not Your Negro.” And it altered my perception of blackness. The film metaphysically pierced me (I highly recommend it). The reality of my skin has always been something that as a black man I had to be cognizant of. I know that in any moment I could lose my life to the fears of some unjustified white man or woman. I made my peace with that long ago, and by peace I don’t mean that I accept such a fate. Merely that I know it is a fact of life. But the film showed me something else as I watched a collection of black bodies swinging in the breeze as strange fruit played, something broke inside of me. For the first time I faced the limit of my passiveness as my imagination forced me to feel what the last moments of a hanged man must have been like. Knowing that you will die at the hands of a crowd who’s fear and hatred of your skin blinded them of your humanity. Feeling the noose around your neck and looking out into that nameless crowd as you took a final breath. I broke in that moment. I pondered what my final thoughts would be, and parts of me spoke up. The Christian remembered Jesus’ last words, “Father forgive them, for they no not what they do…” I heard those words and wanted to believe that I’d say them. That my final act would be of forgiveness, but it would be a lie to say so. A voice of rage spoke up, “these violent delights have violent ends…” The rage that spoke filled me with a red seething heat as I looked out into the crowd. Faces glared defiantly at the human before them till I saw nothing but monsters in attendance. Rage then gave way to fear. Its voice was the truest. I would be afraid of death in this way. I would feel every eye on me and feel the burns from the hatred pouring from them. Only one question would remain as I hung dying. A simple why?

I wasn’t the same after that. Of course the film went on and provided new insights but I’ve never forgotten the eyes of the clansmen and their families. Not because I fear them, but because I feel it is my duty to remember and to live my life for those who had their lives extinguished by the monsters who gathered there. I promised myself that I would dedicate myself to reading more, and learning everything I could about my world. I promised to be the best version of myself all because I realized that I am the dream of the hanged man.

I’ll let that sit for a while. Hot tears are still in my eyes as I think about it. Everyday I live the dream that came from Strange Fruit. I have a good job, a great family, access to education, I can read, vote and live unabashed by many of the white whims that would mean instant death in their time. After I realized that I couldn’t be the same person anymore. I didn’t see point in knowingly watching television that I know was a distraction to keep me from paying attention to the real issues. I didn’t see the point in playing silly games of sexual pursuit with women who need more than my immaturity would provide them. I became aware of my hypocrisy in those moments, but that is a conversation for another day.

After that day I’ve been reading everything I can and I’m paying attention to the world around me. Connecting the dots and seeing the picture coming together, and as the picture gets clearer I realize that I cannot “unsee” the image it makes. Once you become woke you get to a point where everything is falling into place. The plots make sense, and all that we see has been orchestrated to be this way. You can’t go back afterwards after seeing some of these things. Think about that while you imagine The Matrix. One of the central characters Cypher reached that point. He couldn’t take back what he’d seen and it ate away at him. He sacrificed everything he’d known just to be comfortable again. Really think about that for a second. “Ignorance is bliss.” He said as he ate that steak that was only a figment of his imagination.
I used to jokingly say that statement all the time without honestly a second thought. Sure it’s better be ignorant of some things. We’d like to think that we’re progressive and can deal with the truth as it stands but history has shown us we can’t. Ignorance to the reality of things doesn’t quite work as well for black people. History continuously reminds us that. So no matter the appeal, we can’t accept it.

Rudyard Kipling spoke of the White Man’s Burden, not knowing that the true burden of man lies in the heart of people of color. Our burden is the true burden. It’s seeing the true image of America and each day having to put on a mask of conformity to make those around us comfortable. We do this to keep those who cannot handle the true weight of the world we live in so we shelter them from their legacy often and become scapegoats of their psyches.

So wrapping all these truths in a package is all I can do. The problem is I have don’t know who to send them to. Sure I would love for you to understand my perspective but truth be told it’s not fun wearing a mask all day. Seeing the way of the world I can’t buy back in to the American Dream and keep up an oppressive illusion. I know there’s still good in this world and that ultimately Love and Hope will prevail but in this moment I can’t help but think they’re running late.

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