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Friday, April 19, 2024 — Houston, TX

To be Woke and a Woman and Black

By Blaque Robinson     11/18/15 8:59am

I woke up this morning thinking about last night. I woke up this morning thinking about what was going to happen at Mizzou today, what we needed to say about Mizzou, what was happening at Yale, what needed to be said at Yale, what was going to happen at Rice today, what we needed to say at Rice.

Woke refers, in my definition, to those persons of color that are constantly plugged in. We know about the latest injustices. Some talk about the ails of a capitalistic society. Some talk about power structures meant to keep people of color down. Some talk about the effects of racism on their day-to-day life. Some speak out. Some have one-on-one conversations with the perennially ignorant on their college campuses. Some work to educate other people of color around them about how the injustices our brothers and sisters face in California affect us here in Houston. Some just cry in their rooms. Some have to take an information break. Some can’t even speak.

Some cannot bear the weight of staying woke.



Today, I rest here. I rest fed up, too sad, beyond angry, unable to do homework, can’t think about that thesis, wishin’ I could just go get some ice cream with the besties or cuddle up with the boo thang and pretend that the world is going just the way it should and injustice is not threatening to break down my door.

But I can’t. Even when I’m fed up, I still come face-to-face with injustice because I am a Black female body that just doesn’t mix it up well all the time in a white male society. Every day, even without checking my Facebook feed for the latest on injustice in America today, I wake up “woke” and I can never go back to sleep.

James Baldwin so aptly said, “To be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a rage almost all the time.”

What happens to that Black woman at the back of the classroom who is faced with so much violence by being at an institution of higher learning that she can’t bear to read the next assignment for class? What happens to that Black boy whose brother was shot and killed last week, yet his teacher is yelling at him for not turning in his paper and he can’t even manage an answer because all he will do is cry? What happens to that black girl who just lost her mother and grandmother, is depressed, doesn’t want to give up her cellphone and as a result gets slammed to the floor by a school police officer?

What does this mean for the Black college student trying to get into DuBois’s esteemed Talented Tenth to lift up the community who walks into her residential college commons at Rice University’s Brown College to see “most likely to be a bitch ass nigga” posted on the wall?

To live in a constant state of rage is also to live in a constant state of the unknown. It is necessary, but it is unhealthy. The Black body does not suffer from the disease of rage, rather, rage is the symptom of constant exposure to the toxicity of a racist, sexist, homophobic, elitist environment. We suffer because white middle-class cis-hetero able-bodied society has chosen to hate those who are not them.

 Yet I, not they, am forced to come face-to-face with the realities of injustice every day.

We wake to the pathologizing of the bodies we inhabit for being perpendicular to “the privileged.”

Our screams, yells, cries and demands that we be recognized as human are used against us to prove just how valid the claims to our inhumanity are and the necessity of our invisibility.

We are in a constant state of rage.

Some cannot bear the weight of constantly being “woke.”

What happens then? 

Blaque Robinson is a Weiss college senior.

Note: I identify as a cis black able-bodied woman. So, when I say “we” I am referring to those areas of my identity that are targeted and recognize those areas which are privileged from having to be perpendicular.



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