Being Woke Ain’t Fun
I’m a fan of stand-up comedy.
I love everything about it and am addicted to comedians’ ability to stand in front of strangers and introduce their whole selves. How they transform their insecurities and shortcomings into punchlines and “knee-slapping” tales is inspirational to me. For lack of a better phrase, no one owns their shit better than a good comedian. In addition to owning their shit, comedians offer commentary about society in a beautiful and unique but genius way.
The other day I went to Netflix to watch some great stand-up. I first clicked on an Eddie Murphy show, then D.L. Hughley, and Katt Williams. Each and every one of them started with extremely offensive gay jokes. After 10 minutes clicking through various problematic stand up routines, I finally ended up watching Aziz Ansari who in my opinion isn’t exceedingly funny, but at least he’s not problematic and doesn’t use people’s identities as a punchline.
At one point in time, I could have brushed off the jokes and kept watching. But that day I was pissed. As I watched offensive routine after the next I kept mentally asking the question “Why is your masculinity so that fragile that you have to use someone’s identity as a punchline?” I couldn’t laugh because I imagined the people I love that identify as gay. Would they be laughing? No.
Being socially conscious or “woke” ruins everything.
There are certain songs I can longer entertain, celebrities I had to unfollow on Twitter, businesses I can no longer support, and the list goes on and on. This by no means is a judgment on those who do entertain these people, places, and things. I am by no means “holier than thou” because I see things through a different lens. I’m just stating that for me, it’s hard to support these entities that put out messages to the world that certain people are somehow less than because of their identity or how they were born.
Conveniently, many people can say it’s just a joke, or it’s just a song, or it’s just an opinion and can still eat at Chick-fil-A and watch all the stand up they want without a second thought. For me, all of those things come with messages, some good and some bad. Those messages don’t fall on deaf ears either, which is why we have favorite songs and celebrities in the first place.
Being woke ruins everything.
For example, if you’re a woman or person of color or person with a disability or identify within the LGBTQIA umbrella and you have ever taken a sociology class, that was the angriest (but most validating) semester of your college career. You finally had terms for all the feelings you’ve felt your entire life. You could finally put your finger on your insecure feelings moving throughout society. You learned your feelings were normal and that a larger societal or systemic issue was the source.
The other day, I was walking through the subway station with my friends. We all immediately started gawking at the cuteness of this little girl pushing a tiny toy stroller. Eventually, I stopped smiling about how cute she was because I instantly started thinking about how she was being socialized into performing gender and how that little stroller and her baby dolls strapped inside weren’t just toys, they were tools instructing her on how to be a woman.
It’s inconvenient to be woke.
Sometimes I wonder if my mental health would be in a better place if I wasn’t always thinking about things in a sociological standpoint all day. It’s not something you can just turn off.
Anytime I start to fantasize blissful ignorance I begin to remember that being socially conscious is important for these reasons:
1.) For our children: Kids are waaaayyy down the line for me but I’m not exactly thrilled at the thought of bringing a child into this world in a society where they can turn on Netflix and see people gay bashing for laughs. I don’t want my child to feel they have to hide their true selves for the comfort of others and feel they have to pack away their personality for protection. I want to raise a daughter in a world where men won’t think it’s ok to take ownership of her body and get little to no consequences for it, where she is shamed for her sexuality or paid less for her gender. Education starts from the home.
2.) For ourselves: If you’ve had any proper social justice education you understand that for every gallon of oppression, there is an ounce of privilege as well.
I am woman….I am cisgendered and able-bodied.
I am black…….I am American and English is my first language.
I come from a single parent household….my father is in my life and both my parents exposed me to music lessons, trips to the museum, summer camps, and reading at an early age.
I come from a lower socioeconomic status….I have a college degree.
My ancestors were slaves….I have more access to the world than they could ever dream of.
Awareness of both privilege and oppression equally makes you realize that while your societal advantages are unearned, given what they are, you are in a unique position to make a difference. You gain humility which makes you more understanding of others…or at least it should. It can and should make you less judgmental of other people’s circumstances as well.
3.) For each other: We all exist in the world. Intersected. Complex. Unique. Contrary to popular sayings we are not the same by any means except for the fact that we are human and we all occupy the earth. All of us. Not just the straight or the rich or the white or men for that matter (imagine how scary that would be). We all live here and breathe the same air. At the very least, we can love each other for exactly who we are, or for at least the things about ourselves we cannot change.