Hello. My name is Jenice and I’m a woman of color who never grew up experiencing racism and married a white man.
This is an unsolicited meeting I walked in on and introduced myself. It’s called “Are you woke?” I wasn’t looking for this meeting. But I’m in attendance. First, do you know what this even means? If not, here is a short synopsis from the website blavity.com.
The phenomenon of being woke is a cultural push to challenge problematic norms, systemic injustices and the overall status quo through complete awareness. Being woke refers to a person being aware of the theoretical ins and outs of the world they inhabit. Becoming woke, or staying woke, is the acknowledgment that everything we’ve been taught is a lie (kind of/mostly).
Though I am fully aware that systemic racism exists as well as white privilege, these were things that I didn’t grow up being submerged in conversation about while being raised in a suburban environment. Both of my parents came from Lubbock, TX, (a place of a lot of racial tension even today), put themselves through college and then moved to Arlington, TX, when I was two. They wanted the best for me and even eventually put me through college. They didn’t spend a lot of time, however, focusing on the racial injustices. My mother told me of a time that she and her sisters went for ice cream as kids and was given scoops of Crisco instead. That was one of just a few stories I was told but we never sat down and had long conversations about race, though they just made a few comments here and there. Meanwhile many of my black peers physically and verbally attacked me for “acting and speaking white,” for having mostly white friends and for the way I dressed. This never made me hate being black, in fact the opposite. Why would I hate who I was? But it did confuse me and I didn’t feel that I would be able to be among a community of my black counterparts as much as I was with those who weren’t people of color — the ones who didn’t seem to judge me for who I was.