Being “woke” may have come into our lexicon after the murder of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman in 2012. I know that is when the movement, Black Lives Matter came into full view of the world. This tragic murder moved a lot of us out of our “work hard and everything will work out for you” slumber and we’ve been asking how woke everyone is since then.
Our goal here at CREAD is to assist in the woke process because you can be woke but the hard part is to stay woke. You may have some awareness about an issue but how does that impact your thoughts, choices and actions in your daily life? In other words, what difference does it make to raise our consciousness if it does not compel us to act?
The concept of awakening or raising consciousness is not new. In fact, the use of this metaphor for raising collective awareness has ancient origins in Greek drama. Some of our most revered playwrights structured their works using the opening “wake up” scene; bringing attention to the audience that what is about to unfold is going to pull them from their reverie. August Wilson does this especially well in the opening scene of The Piano Lesson. A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry also begins with a morning wake up scene. (**If you are teaching these plays or any other dramas this year, it is worth analyzing with your students what playwrights aim to teach their audiences in the form social or political messages.)
Director, Spike Lee, is also known for his intentional use of this dramatic element, making many of his film scenes especially impactful and memorable. For Lee, these scenes are a direct plea to the characters and the audience to pay attention to what is happening in our communities, neighborhoods and most of all, society.
In Spike Lee’s School Daze, Laurence Fishburne’s character, Dap screams at the top of his lungs for his community to wake up! The question is, wake up to what? Our question to you, is what do we all need to wake up to?
“Wake up everybody no more sleepin’ in bed
No more backward thinkin’ time for thinkin’ ahead
The world has changed so very much
From what it used to be
There is so much hatred war an’ poverty
Wake up all the teachers time to teach a new way
Maybe then they’ll listen to whatcha have to say
‘Cause they’re the ones who’s coming up and the world is in their hands
When you teach the children teach em the very best you can
The world won’t get no better if we just let it be
The world won’t get no better we gotta change it yeah, just you and me.”
Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes
By now, you recognize that CREAD isn’t here for just lesson plans and “resources.” Instead, we’re here to help all of us teach a new way, to think a new way, to love a new way.
As you may you know, November is Native American Heritage Month and it is our charge that you celebrate and acknowledge it in your classrooms. Yesterday we talked about Shirley Chisholm and how necessary it is for her to be a part of our curriculum. Looking ahead at the month, we will be celebrating and spotlighting Benjamin Banneker, Sojourner Truth and Thurgood Marshall. We will be delving into the Dakota Access Pipeline protest, the Not One Dime protest and the Injustice Protest as well. In addition, we will be providing our post mortem take on the presidential election and how we acknowledge the life and bravery of our Black Veterans.
It is our hope that you find many opportunities to raise your own awareness and that of your students through class discussions, watching films or documentaries, various kinds of readings and writing assignments, and more importantly becoming involved in your respective communities. We are here to think deeply with you and support all of us in teaching in a new way.
Deep thinkers only