Is it safe to say that “woke” is the word of the year? Everywhere I turn, White folks are getting dubbed woke. We’re arguing with each other over who really is or who really ain’t woke enough. Which Knowles sister made the wokest album of 2016? (Solange, duh). We’re staying woke and calling sheeple “sleep.” Fam, I’m tired. And through it all, we ignore one big secret about being woke: It sucks the fun out of ev.er.y.thing. I got a story about that.
Like to hear it? Here it goes…
The other day, I turned on Netflix to watch a kid’s movie with Bean. We chose a Curious George animated feature film because it’s harmless. Or so I thought. (Spoiler Alert? Why not.) The movie follows The Man in the Yellow Hat before he meets George. He’s the curator of a museum that will soon shut down without more visitors. TMITYH gets this great idea to hop over to “Africa” to find a 40-foot statue to bring to the museum in New York City and save the day. That’s the plot.
Does TMITYH ask anyone in “Africa” if he can borrow their artifact? Nah. Does the cartoon even show “Africans?” Nah. “Africa” is just a treacherous, uninhabited wild bush with an abandoned marvel just waiting for this White man to claim it. Does “Africa” have any infrastructure, a country, a city, a civilization? Nah. It’s still the Dark Continent-Country, a White man’s toy box and playground. Motherf#@*!
My kid thoroughly enjoyed the movie and all I could think of the whole time was: This neo-colonialist, Western propagandist, indoctrinating, racist film!
I can’t even enjoy Curious George anymore? Really?!
That was the moment I realized being “woke” really does ruin everything. Like holidays…
I think Thanksgiving goes first. I mean, sure, who doesn’t love family, food, and two football games with the most overrated teams in the NFL? But once you become woke, you do things like invoke the spirits of Indigenous Peoples in the obligatory Thanksgiving blessing. You start referring to chitlins, mac and cheese, candied yams, and collards as “slave food.” Your Facebook block heats up with debates about whether or not celebrating a holiday built on stolen land and murdered people can get your woke card revoked. Your non-celebration becomes a Statement. You cook tofu burgers, invite friends over, enjoy each others’ wokeness, and feel satisfied with yourselves.
Columbus Day might have been cool as a kid. We learned that stupid rhyme “October 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue.” I memorized the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria for history dioramas. But our teachers never pointed out how ridiculous it sounds to celebrate a man discovering an inhabited place. And this joker gets his own holiday? As adults, we consider Columbus Day even more of a bogus holiday since only government workers and bankers actually get the day off. So now, we tell each other “Happy Indigenous People Day,” and share “The only Christopher I observe is Christopher Wallace” memes.
Other holidays ruined by wokeness include: Christmas (you run around telling Christians it’s actually a pagan, consumerist holiday and Jesus wasn’t born on December 25); Easter; and Valentine’s Day. Because, naturally, woke people are too woke to love consumer-driven displays of affection. Sense of humor sold separately.
One day I was listening to the radio and BBD’s song “Poison” came through the speakers. I turned it up because that’s what you do when you’re an R&B head and “Poison” plays. It’s the jam. But this day, of all days, was different. After years of wondering what Michael Bivins is rapping, I heard it clear as day: “The low pro hoe should be cut like an Afro.”
The song keeps playing, but I stopped singing along with it. Wait, did they just say a whole hoe on the radio unbleeped? They did. “Poison” was so old it had escaped the radio censorship for the word “hoe.” And what was that word doing there, anyway? Here all this time, I’d been singing 90s New Jack misogyny, swinging like a fool.
Womanist wokeness is the worst. You start realizing how pervasive sexism is and it makes you so mad and so tired all the fracking time. Don’t worry, I’ma keep fighting the patriarchy. Right after “Poison” goes off. Sometimes women legit just focus on the beat so the words don’t beat the last remaining bit of joy out of us.
…and social media
Facebook, Instagram, PayPal, BuzzFeed, Twitter…need I go on? These memes and articles floating around telling you who supports what vice force you to make a decision. Will you be a “mindless consumer” and keep using these sites despite the fact you’re implicitly funding organizations and people who hate you?
A flurry of “boycott PayPal” posts went up earlier this week on Facebook because Peter Thiel, its co-founder, financially supports Donald Trump. #BoycottAllOfTheThings. Just as soon, more posts went up saying Thiel no longer gets money from PayPal…but he has stake in Facebook. Oooh, what now? Do we let being woke ruin our Facebooking? How else will we let everyone else know we’re staying woke?!
…and fast food
You know you used to beg your mama for Happy Meals when you were a kid (unless she was woke). But now? Don’t even mention the word “McDonald’s” in woke company. That’s Woke 101.
But I must say that it hurt my heart when Chic-Fil-A came out as anti-LGBTQ. Their brand of waffle-fried bigotry had people lining up to support…or swearing never to go back. I…I’m ashamed to admit I couldn’t quit the chikin. But it’s tasted slightly off ever since, an aftertaste I can’t quite shake.
…and cheap department stores
In any normal context, one of the wokest things you could possibly do includes saving your hard-earned money…unless it’s at Wal-Mart. Holy rollback, Batman, woke people DESPISE Wally World like it’s the Hellmouth. Wal-Mart represents underpaid labor, the forced death of the mom and pop shop, sweatshops, exposed butt cracks, and exploitation. B.W. (Before Woke), Wal-Mart was the place to go to stock up on good, cheap candy before a movie date. A.W. (After Woke), Wal-Mart was the site of you and #WokeBae’s first protest-date. Even though I continued shopping there A.W., I could always smell the stench of complicit consumerism wafting off me. We finally broke up and I haven’t been in months.
…and sports teams
The pervasive use of Indians as mascots in “homage” is little more than a joke. I graduated from Florida State, home of the “Seminoles” forced to Oklahoma through the Seminole Wars and the Indian Removal Act. I try to say I rep the Black Seminoles, but…that’s just a “woke” copout. I’m a Nole because I attended,
The word “Redskins” used to roll off my tongue when I was a kid. Not because I was a fan, but because my dad loves the Cowboys and the ‘Skins were as good as a slur in our house anyway. Little did I know the team name actually is a racial slur. I live in the DMV and I can’t even say the home team’s name without grimacing.
And then, when you realize “America’s team” is the Cowboys, who have a historic rivalry with the Redskins…? Our mythology makes them the Bad Guy, but Native Americans were the first people here. When it hits you that the classic child’s game of cowboys and Indians mimics genocide and makes invaders heroes? Ugh.
…and finally, America.
That’s when being woke really sucks. You can’t extricate yourself from places and things in your own history. No matter how woke you are, living in America forces you to reckon with your complicity in perpetuating its atrocities. It ruins the patriotism drilled into us as children. Wokeness bends the knee during anthems that used to make you stand tall. Wokeness weighs the tongue too heavily to recite a pledge that no longer binds.
No matter what stage of woke you’re in, something is sure to make you occasionally wish you could get put back in the Matrix. The worst thing about being woke is that you can’t undo it. Although we might feel the occasional smugness for being woke, it’s largely a killjoy. You start whispering to friends, like Haley Joel Osment did Bruce Willis, “I see White Supremacy.” And you will see it everywhere, and in everything. That’s the price of being woke in America. You want fries with that?
What has being woke ruined for you?