Are You Woke?

The urban dictionary definition of “woke” is being aware of what is going on in your community? This terminology is one that is rather new but has a special place in my heart. As a Nigerian-American women, this term is essential to what it means for me to be a black woman. First things first, this term is frequently used in the black community. In our community, woke tends to mean that you are aware of the social and racial justice issues in our community. For example, people who are involved in the “Black Lives Matter” movement would be considered “woke”.  It is a liberating feeling to know that you are able to have a conscious effort and perspective on things in your racial community.

My History

I am proud to call myself “woke” now. However, I wasn’t always that way. For the majority of my life I lived and went to school in a predominantly Caucasian community. Having black friends was a luxury. Even though I had few opportunities to make black friends, when I did have the opportunity to associate with black kids I was often ostracized. I was called “bougie”. For those of you who don’t know that slang term it simply means aristocratic, uppity, haughty and downright prideful. Ironically, the black kids used to tell me that I was “trying to act white”. It didn’t make sense to me considering the fact that I was just being my self. It saddened me to realize that speaking proper and grammatical English equated to me being “white”.  Despite this,  I never gave up on trying to relate more with black friends. When I was going to the tenth grade I had a transformation. I call it my “Black Pride Phase”. During this period of my life I came more immersed in black culture. I would watch black films, read books with black others and about black people, and I even went natural. (Going natural is a term that black women use when they stop using chemical straightners on their hair) I went natural because I wanted to embrace all that I am as a black woman. That included embracing and accepting my curly/kinky hair texture.  This whole process gave me a greater appreciation for my race. Once I became more culturally aware or “woke” I started making and associating more with black people.

The Present

Times have definitely changed from my adolescent “bougie” days. Now I am in college and surrounded by diversity. I had the opportunity to attend two HBCU’s (Historically Black College or University). Nonetheless, I declined the offer. I felt like being surrounded by solely black people would not help me grow as a person. I also felt that I need the enrichment that diversity brings. Despite the fact that I did not go to an HBCU, I am still surrounded by black people. My roommate is black and the majority of my friends are too. It’s quite an interesting phenomena. Overall, I am proud of how much I have evolved as a black women. While you may think that I should have reserved this post for black history month, I felt that at this stage of my life expressing these thoughts were necessary. I hope you enjoyed this.

Thanks for reading,

Abisola