The GetWoke Campaign Provides An Important Platform For Black Experiences To Be Both Spoken About & Heard
The word "woke" is thrown around quite a bit on social media, but awareness isn't as simple as just commenting under a hashtag. Gaining a "woke" level of understanding takes careful and vigilant listening to voices that have far too often been drowned out and muffled — which is exactly where the GetWoke campaign steps in. GetWoke, which launches Nov. 1, aims to create a platform for black people to speak out on individual and collective Black Experiences, and for white people to listen and hear about these experiences. Through this act of storytelling, the creators of the campaign hope to engage commenters and readers from all walks of life and build a community of listening and understanding. In a country deeply divided, this campaign could be an important step towards healing the deep wounds left from centuries of continuing racism and injustice.
GetWoke utilizes a newsletter format to accomplish its goals. Anyone can submit their story to the campaign via email, be it a personal experience, a series of thoughts, or a collection of feelings. The submissions can take the form of video, text, images, or recordings — whatever best expresses the experience. Each week, a curated email of these stories is sent out, allowing the community to easily share in these experiences. As with the Black Lives Matter campaign, GetWoke focuses on sharing the diversity of Black Experiences. Notes the GetWoke website, "Our Black Experiences are diverse. Black Experiences are varied. Black Experiences are valid. Tell us your story, in whatever form that takes."
Campaign co-founders Chissy Nkemere and Danny Rothschild hope, too, that the platform will bring people of all backgrounds together. "We each have had experiences speaking with friends (white and people of color) who are at a loss for words when unnecessary violence occurs. As a white man, Danny sometimes doesn't know what to say, and as a black woman, neither do I," Nkemere tells Bustle. "I often find myself placating friends and making sure they know that I'm OK, when really we should all be angry and upset and confused. While the color of my skin mandates the additional burden I carry in this country, the burden should be shared between us — if not physically, then emotionally."
In that spirit, just as the GetWoke website notes that the campaign focuses on Black Experiences, it also addresses what white people can do to be good allies: It asks, "Allow others to speak up & speak loudly, allow yourself to quiet & listen." It is "a place for everyone": "Regardless of race, religion, culture, national origin, ethnicity, disability, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation or age, we all have stories to tell and we can all learn from each other's experiences," the website writes.
The idea for the campaign began as a reaction to the deaths of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling, and the feelings of helplessness in the wake of these tragedies that the co-founders experienced. Though Nkemere acknowledges that the site will not be a solution to racial violence, she hopes that "it will serve as an outlet for self-expression for black people and a place of learning through understanding for everyone." For those unsure how to "get woke," the website even has a 10-step process.
As to the importance of the campaign's name, it does not simply utilize the word "woke" for its trending appeal. "It's plural and proper because there isn't just one black experience, black vote, black community, or black sentiment. We are all so diverse in our upbringings, education, careers, motivations, wants, and loves and every single one is valid," Nkemere tells Bustle. "We're so often unheard and unseen — a disconnect that fuels our dehumanization when we're killed on screen or kneel to protest it."
For more about the campaign, check out the introductory video below: