Most of us remember Spike Lee’s movie, “Do the Right Thing.” Spike directed the film and played the lead role of Mookie, a young African-American man working as a delivery driver for Sal’s pizzeria. John Turturro portrayed Pino, Sal’s openly racist son, who had a hostile relationship with the predominantly African-American community around the pizzeria. The movie came out in 1989 and at the time served as a powerful social commentary that prompted viewers to examine their own biases, challenge the status quo, and take action to address racial inequalities. The movie examined the systemic racism, prejudice, and cultural clashes within the community. While the film does not explicitly use the phrase, “wake up,” it presents a compelling narrative that encourages both Black and white viewers to confront and engage with the realities of racism and discrimination. Thirty-four years after this iconic film, we are still experiencing the realization of social injustices and racial disparities that persist in society today. Black America, we must wake up to the fact that we still have opposition from certain people, political agendas, and government institutions who are trying to cancel our cultural history, ignore critical race theory, and make America the place where “woke” comes to die.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who is also a Republican presidential candidate, has brought much attention to the “woke” movement because of his desire to render it null and void. Why would a person who wants to become the leader of the free world try to kill a movement that wants to dismantle systems of oppression, including racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, and others? Woke ideology acknowledges that people can face multiple layers of discrimination and that these various aspects of identity, such as race, gender, sexuality, and class, are interconnected. You would think that any presidential candidate regardless of political affiliation would want to support a movement that encompasses various social and political issues, including but not limited to racial and social injustice, gender inequality, environmental justice, and economic disparities. Communities of color must wake up to the fact that if one white parent in a Miami-Dade Florida County elementary school can complain that a book based on a poem written by a young Black National Youth Poet Laureate, Amanda Gorman, is not educational, and has indirect hate messages, causes confusion, indoctrinates students, and now is restricted from students reading lists is disheartening. It marginalizes and conveniently minimalizes African Americans' contributions to our country.
There are certain elements in this country that do not want to recognize and realize that racism is deeply ingrained in our legal systems, policies, and societal structures, perpetuating systemic inequalities. History has shown us that racism is not only the result of individual prejudices or overt acts of discrimination, but rather it operates within various aspects of society, including law, education, housing, employment, and criminal justice. Currently, seven states have banned critical race theory, while another sixteen states are in the process of banning it. That constitutes almost all states with a Republican governor. These governors and states are saying that there is no structural or systemic racism and they want no public discourse on anything concerning race, power, diversity, equity, and inclusion. We must wake up and examine the systemic racism, prejudice, and cultural clashes that exist within our community. We must make America, “Do the Right Thing.” #antiwokemovement #coachwendy
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