It is impossible not to have heard of black lives matter or other social issues of our times. But it seems very possible that many of us find it so hard to grapple with these issues so we put it to one side – we’ve been hibernating for various reasons. One reason is of course “stay at home”, another reason perhaps is compassion fatigue, we’re so tired of news that make us feel bad, we want to hear good news. Stories of kindness remind of our humanity. Well let me tell you about “woke.”
Woke (/ˈwoʊk/) as a political term of African-American origin refers to a perceived awareness of issues concerning social justice and racial justice, Wikipedia. Dating back to the 60s, yes, I was there but in complete oblivion to the word, “its mainstream ubiquity is a recent development. Fuelled by black musicians, social media and the #BlackLivesMatter movement, the term entered the Oxford English Dictionary only in 2017, by which time it had become as much a fashionable buzzword as a set of values. Some of those who didn’t keep up with the trend felt left behind: if you didn’t know the meaning of woke, you weren’t”. Steve Rose, The Guardian, 2020.
Haha Steve, but many of us are WOKE even though we had not heard of the word. Grandmas have been knitting since 2012 to protest against the impact of mining for Coal Seam Gas (CSG). https://knitting-nannas.com. They knit in yellow and black to identify with the Lock the Gate movement and to bear witness while they sit and knit in public. There’s a whole social histority of knitting as a tool for non-violent political activism. Bet you half of them haven’t heard of the word “woke”
Grandmas when woke, do not tweet, we don’t call anyone out or hashtag you for using the wrong word, or identifying with a particular people group (think Elizabeth Warren), We are not here to cast the first stone.
Grandmas live and enjoy our grandchildren. We are here to educate our children and grandchildren on values that matter, compassion, care for the vulnerable amongst us, all of us deserve dignity, to protect human rights … The above artwork is by @rikkirainbows on Instagram and they are values shared by so many. We each have our own lists because we think for ourselves, we educate ourselves, speak out on things that matter, we donate to causes, write and speak to politicians. We are WOKE and we VOTE.
Speaking for myself, I’ve spent nearly 30 years teaching in universities, and decades researching and working in water governance, which roughly means how decisions over water are made. It is an area which touches us all whether we know it or not. In my retirement while I maintain my interest and expertise in water, I will focus my activism on protecting asylum seekers. It is also an area which touches us all, our humanity and our spirit. Even when accepted by the United Nations as fulfilling the criteria as refugees, many people are held in indefinite detention in Australia. Some have been detained for 7 years. Do you know your Bible stories? Heard of Joseph and his technicolour dream coat? Seven years of plenty followed by 7 years of famine? Please, let these people go! Let them enjoy freedom after 7 years of detention.
Today I shall be exercising and protesting with other Grandmas for refugees. We sing, we cycle or dance, we march to free asylum seekers. All over the streets of Australia we say WE ARE WOKE.
P.S my daughter Faith tells me that Millennials consider “woke” as somewhat a derogatory term, and to them it means that one is overly politically correct, to the point of being silly. Haha, I don’t care, I’m not a Millennial.