The main thing that concerns me about this post is the assumption that if someone doesn’t attend the same events you attend, this means something about what they care about or are committed to. As an introvert with often paralyzing anxiety… I don’t go to events at Evans because school is already extremely exhausting and overwhelming for me. But I would be concerned if someone was keeping track of my attendance as a means to judge how committed I “really” am (or i guess to use your words… “woke or not woke”). Along the same lines to some of the things you expressed in this post… I have an issue sometimes with people who sign up for every “social justice/anti-racism” training, meeting, or event… and rely on the fact that they “attended” these events as proof that they care.
Liz, thanks for writing this.
Alysha Fung Koehler
11

Hey Alysha! Thanks so much for taking the time and emotional energy to read my story and to write this very important response which adds some light and shade to my own thoughts. I identify as an introvert who socialises as an extrovert, so it is great to have an introvert’s perspective documented here.

I’ll zoom into the Evans microcosm here. I agree that attendance at events is only a fraction of the broader picture here. Being “woke” is also a spectrum. To be honest though, as organizers of these events, we do keep track of who comes to what, how they engage, their reactions and behaviour etc. because at a BASIC level, attendance shows a *kind of* “support.” It isn’t the be all and end all. As it isn’t always the kind of support that we want from our supposed allies — going back to my point that I’d rather folks not attend if they are just going to make POC/WOC hold their hand through their guilt and fragility or they just want to show their face in POC spaces, then go back to enacting out extremely problematic behaviour).

I agree that effective activism goes well beyond attendance/showing up. And to your point, your examples of unseen activism are the real game changers and are actions that can be undertaken by both introverts and extroverts. If everyone in this world just treated people around them with human decency and respect to their faces and behind their backs, no matter what race, ethnicity or religion or how light or dark their skin was, what language they spoke etc. I think many of our problems would be solved. Going back to the Evans microcosm, this would look like sitting next to those non-native English speaking international students and actually recognising that they are unique human beings with thoughts, feelings and personalities, saying hey to students of color in the halls, questioning profs problematic opinions in office hours, and having conversations about racism, justice, equity, womxn’s rights etc. with our peers — basically creating and building those interpersonal relationships.

Just a clarification: my major problem with the fake woke isn’t that they don’t come to our events, it’s that they use all the buzz words to present themselves as woke; then in reality when given the opportunity to show that they care about social justice on a granular level, they behave extremely inappropriately to me, other WOC, students of color etc. and just perpetuate their role as a majority oppressor.

Also thank you for sharing your personal stories. I would love to meet your mama one day! She sounds like my kind of badass and I could do with a Seattle mama :D

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