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Seeing is not always believing

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Yesterday, I watched a YouTube video titled “African Americans ain’t African”. This three-hour video sought to “expose” the global conspiracy known as the Transatlantic Slave Trade by debunking the widely accepted theory that European slave traders kidnapped continental Africans and forcefully brought them to the Americas. The host went on to explore the suggestion that the individuals we’d come to identify as African-American through this historical association were in fact not of African decent at all, but indigenous to the America’s instead. Although the video lacked actual historical facts, supporting evidence, reference texts, and arguably common sense, the video was followed by a series of suggested videos exploring the same theory.

As I scrolled through the comments I was surprised at the amount of viewers who found the concept to be credible, responding with elation to discover they we were in fact not African, but instead “Native American” as their grandmothers had always suspected. I burrowed deeper into the woke worm whole only to discover that this wasn’t a minority opinion, but a growing position, even garnering support from Black celebrities and cultural influencers –and just one of the many fringe philosophies to surface out of the millennial-led movement. The deeper into the depths of wokeness I ventured, the more outlandish the claims became, leading me to question whether we’d officially taken “woke” to bed.

Too Woke For Wellness

Between Vegan-Propaganda based documentary “What The Health,” World Renowned herbalist Dr. Sebi, and Chemtrail conspiracy theorists all across YouTube, some of us have “woke’d” ourselves sick. Is it a good thing that we’ve collectively become much more conscious about the foods we use to fuel our bodies and the methods we use to take care of them? Absolutely. But if we’re not careful with what information we use to make these dietary and lifestyle decisions, we can potentially become consumed with misguided, misleading sources that play on our fears as opposed to our intellect, and that’s where woke gets dangerous.

Wokeness as it pertains to social-political awareness is often accompanied by a general distrust of the system and its entities, as it should be. But when we start to discuss wokeness as it pertains to the care of our bodies, we cannot completely disregard information supported by Western sources, and we don’t have to. We should be woke enough to know that Anatomical Science, Nutritional Science and many other disciplines under modern medicine aren’t all that modern at all. In fact, modern medicine borrowed from and built upon sciences and concepts that derived from a slew of ancient African civilizations. If to be woke means to be informed, then let’s start with our health. We cannot forget that we are the foundation on which much of society as we know it was built. Literally. Henrietta Lacks anyone? If we reject it all, we reject our contribution to it as well.

Too Woke For Reality

If you’re unfamiliar with the name NatureBoy, I implore you to familiarize yourself. NatureBoy, born Eligio Bishop, is a former barber, stripper, porn star, model and prostitute turned self-proclaimed Master Teacher.  In 2016, Bishop decided to leave his wayward reality behind and embark on a journey to enlightenment and self-discovery in Honduras. Overtime, Bishop’s journey from Honduras to Costa Rica to Belize to Mexico captured the attention of over 17,000 followers, some taking him up on his offer to be their “guide out of the hell realm,” leaving their worldly possessions behind and following the Master Teacher. And as others trotted behind Bishop in the hopes of also escaping their daunting realities, many found themselves trapped in a nightmare.

Some three years later, reports of child abuse, sexual assault, sexual coercion, rape, physical assault, and death have surfaced from NatureBoy’s compound, known more recently as Carbonation. Families have contacted local authorities to assist with the return of their loved ones, and yet individuals exhausted with the weight of reality continue to flock to the Master Teacher in the hopes of finding refuge. NatureBoy may be one of the more visible perpetrators, but countless individuals have taken advantage of the psychological fatigue that accompanies elevated social awareness, offering refuge for the restless consciences our oppressive existences have created. The problem then becomes that many of those offering refuge are seeking asylum themselves, promising tranquility and enlightenment when they possess neither. This isn’t just a testament to how misguided our attempts at enlightenment have become, but more so evidence of just how unbearable reality has become for many of us. So unbearable that we would subject ourselves to worse in the pursuit of better.

Too Woke For Rest

Some of us are so woke we can’t recall the last time we slept. We’ve decided to take on every injustice, every violation, every offense as though it were our social obligation. Life revolves around Shaun King’s Twitter feed and anyone who isn’t abreast of the most recent infringement simply isn’t woke at all. The Too Woke never rest, every conversation is scanned for teachable moments, every joke is assessed for even the slightest indecency. And in their effort to become the Captain Planet of picketing, many of the too woke become too woke to function. Social injustice soldiers can and will experience social burnout. Simply put, no one can live in such an unending state of social traumatization without running the risk of a mental collapse and that collapse can present in a variety of ways, including isolation, depression, delusion and self-injury, which can be physical and/or mental. Rest is good, rest is even better when you’re exhausted and to be socially conscious is to be exhausted round the clock. Rest doesn’t imply we take a break from our dedication to the cause, nor does being woke imply we’ll never need a break from the fight. Even the greatest warriors rested. And once we accept that to be woke is to be defenders of ourselves first, we won’t embrace it in a way that causes us to be neglectful of our own needs.

Being woke doesn’t mean we become less of who we were before the knowledge, in fact quite the opposite. Those of us who were mean-spirited before our enlightenment will use our new found knowledge to tear others down, hence “cancel culture” and the weaponizing of spirituality. Those of us who struggled with self identity before our enlightenment will struggle with it in the aftermath, hence the “fauxtep” ideology. And those of us afflicted by the internalization of anti-black sentiments before wokeness will use it to attack Blackness, hence the mysogyny built into many Afrocentric new-age teachings. Just being woke for the sake of claiming wokeness is just as detrimental as not being awake at all, meaning it’s not the label that makes the difference, it’s how and to whom it’s applied. The most important awareness a person can possess is the awareness of self. In its absence, all subsequent awareness should be called into question. Why, because a person who has discovered themselves will connect to social activism out of moral compulsion, a person who has not will connect to a movement because of the social validation and camaraderie that comes with it, and it takes more than a common complexion to demonstrate dedication to a cause. We may have unintentionally taken woke too far, a byproduct of our intense thirst for solutions to problems we didn’t create, but that doesn’t mean we should continue falling victim to our own well-intentioned dysfunction because that’s what this has become. Being and staying woke isn’t just about how much knowledge a person can hoard and weaponize, it’s about being responsible for how that information is shared, how it’s sourced, and the impact it can have on members of the community. If staying woke has put us all in a perpetual zombie-like state of consciousness, then perhaps a cancellation is just what we need.

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