If you are not woke, you are dreaming

My previous post about racism is less about race than it is about seeing. The world can be experienced in many layers, all of which combine to make up reality. I don’t subscribe to the view that “it’s all in your head.” That gives too much credit to the brain and ignores the reality of the stomach. And the heart. Nor do I subscribe to the view that the only thing that matters is how we relate to one another. That puts too much separation between how we act and what we think. What goes on in our minds matters, and it matters a great deal.

We need to work on healing this fictional rift between our inner and outer worlds. Remember, reality is all of it taken together. There is a yawning gap between what we think we are saying and what people hear. It takes effort, every time, to close that chasm. And there is still another gap between our intentions and our actions. The discord between the inner and outer spheres of our lives is at the heart of much suffering.

Now, how does this apply to race specifically? The people who receive the most privilege from ideas about race would prefer that you not see how the system works to their advantage. They themselves may not wish to see it, so prefer to “ignore race” as a solution. This approach means adopting as reality the dreamland occupied by privileged people. Ignoring race does not alter the historical and present reality that people labeled with certain races have been at a disadvantage for their entire lives. The construct of race may be a fiction, but the daily penalties are real. The dreamland of the privileged conveniently does not see this suffering. In fact, it is largely constructed around shielding privileged eyes from “others” who don’t have the same privileges.

Being woke is not about some sort of political correctness. It is about seeing the reality of the world for what it is: not the land of opportunity and freedom dreamed up in the whitewashed history books from which many of us were taught, but a land of oppression and barriers for some and opportunity and freedom for others. Until more people open their eyes to see the realities of other people’s lives, nothing will improve. Democracy can only bring about change if voters can see each other clearly.