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You're Not Woke: How To Stop The Fraud And Really Wake Up

Our communities have enough self-serving distractors.

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There are millions of self-proclaimed “woke” people across the nation. They give themselves this designation based on learning about white supremacy, equality, civil rights, and other critical areas. And that’s OK. That’s great! But I would offer for your consideration that being “woke” isn’t about the amount of knowledge you have, but how you use that knowledge to combat systematic oppression communities of color face every day.

If you’re not physically invested in rebuilding black and brown lives, then you’re not “woke.” You’re just following societal trends to make you feel accepted in the movement.

Feeling accepted, sharing social media posts and following popular trends, without any tangible action, doesn’t make you “woke.” It makes you a poser. “Wokeness” is about real, live action.

Being “woke” isn’t knowing about Black Wall Street. Being “woke” is starting a business, hiring others and patronizing black entrepreneurs. Being “woke” isn’t about protesting in the streets. It’s about working with politicians behind the scenes to change laws, joining boards and running for office.

There is a simple equation to ensure that your knowledge properly aligns with your activity. Oftentimes we hear it in airports, but we can certainly apply it here:

1. See Something

Recognize the issue. Understand how the political, historical and financial factors contribute to your issue and their implications. Arrest your biases. Communicate with others. Be courageous enough to obtain a first-hand account on how the issue affects everyday lives. Develop a vision on how you would solve the injustice.

2. Say Something

After you understand the political, historical and financial context of the issue, create a directory of relevant stakeholders. Stakeholders may include thought leaders, influencers and community organizations. Communicate your desire to demolish the issue, while discerning their intention, character and willingness to work alongside you. Build a diverse squad. Develop relationships based on shared values. Share your vision with them.

3. Do Something

As you build a core group of stakeholders, develop an advocacy action plan to support the vision. Plan for future distractions. Predict potential pitfalls. Prepare for push-back. Examine how each stakeholder, including yourself, can empower the vision. Ensure each stakeholder has the capacity to fulfill their obligations. Invite your tribe to join you.

Our communities have enough self-serving distractors. We must act. Black and brown communities may never improve unless our capacity to hold information corresponds with our level of productivity.

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Jason Barnes grew up in Baltimore, Maryland. He earned a Bachelor of Accounting from Coppin State University. He has helped establish start-up companies in Baltimore, New York, and Washington D.C. Jason is committed to building and rebuilding lives through mentorship, stewardship, and fellowship. In his spare time, he facilitates a Christian education class for 9 – 10 graders in Baltimore, Maryland. He is also the Director of Fundraising for Black Millennials for Flint. Jason is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated. He enjoys playing basketball, traveling, and participating in community service activities. He currently resides in the Metro D.C. area.
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