Woke (Urban Dictionary)
Being Woke means being aware.
Knowing what’s going on in the community.
(Relating to Racism and Social Injustice)
Person 1: Stop bringing racism into everything
Person 2: You're clearly not woke
2015 has come to an end. It was a great year for the Aiden family. No regrets, only humble gratefulness for our health, family, friends and amazing experiences that have helped prepare us for entering into 2016.
This year was the year of getting "woke", being "woke", staying "woke" or being reawakened for our family. As I have written about before, the world is changing right before our eyes. What was our history has now become our present reality. We are constantly watching injustice, prejudice, and racism be played out in the media and even in our neighborhoods. There are constant conversations in our home about how we, as individuals and as a family can do our part to help get the world back on track towards equity, equality and justice for all.
This year, in addition to taking care of our individual selves and spirits, we also tried to do our part to spread some love and peace in the world, hoping that the ripple effect of our actions will reach many that are near and far in our hearts and minds.
Eric participated in the Million Man March in 1995. This year he returned to Washington DC for the Justice or Else Million Man March 2015 20th Anniversary.
We cannot live without justice and where there is no justice there is no peace."
Eric returned home from the #JusticeOrElse Million Man March renewed, recharged and with a mission. His new mission, #BoycottChristmas.
#BoycottChristmas was a major call to action coming out of the #JusticeOrElse march, uniting blacks in a mission to boycott the lucrative Christmas retail industry and gain the attention of those who have contributed to the oppression of minorities.
So, the day after Thanksgiving, #BoycottChristmas went into effect in the Aiden house. It was a house divided, as we all wanted to support Eric and the black community in this charge, but it was so very difficult for us to give up the Christmas celebration and tradition that we have had in our family for 21 years. We debated, we argued, we agreed to disagree. We gave up some things, and held onto some things. No Christmas tree, no decorations, purchases made from black merchants and a lot less money spent in the Aiden household. In the end, we were all together on Christmas morning, healthy, happy, grateful and feeling somewhat empowered by our small contribution to the movement.
Gabrielle spent a lot of time during 2015 offering her humble heart to communities in need. She became woke to the economic inequities and lack of health care of so people in different regions of the world. She spent some time in Nicaragua with the SJSU Medical Brigade bringing medical and dental care to residents in underdeveloped small villages. Gabrielle was nominated to serve as the secretary of the SJSU Global Brigade Board for the 2015-2016 school year. She will return to Nicaragua with the Brigade this summer to assist in the administering of more medical and dental care that is greatly needed in the villages that they will serve.
She then traveled to Tanzania to complete a medical volunteer internship in the Iringa hospital. In Tanzania, Gabrielle had the opportunity to experience medical rotations in a variety of hospital units (pediatrics, labor & delivery and ER) and provide (shadow) medical care to patients in yet, another underdeveloped area in the world. It was in Tanzania that she was able to confirm her notion that a career in medicine was the path she would take in her future. Gabby was also able to make connections with patients, doctors and other medical volunteers from around the world.
While back in California, Gabrielle participated in a variety of protests and marches in response to the many acts of violence, hatred and prejudice that were being inflicted upon blacks and other minorities around our country. Though the SJSU BSU (Black Student Union) and other organizations, she too was able to proudly represent her black culture.
Sinobia. What do we say about Sinobia.... This is our #Powertothepeople leader! Sinobia has embraced her blackness this year. She has become a proud black woman that works hard to protect the integrity, beauty, strength and culture of her black people.
One way Sinobia has begun to bring awareness of black culture to her friends and community is through her "Black Friday" posts on her instagram and Facebook spaces. Sinobia has been using her writing skills to address issues that many people don't want to talk about or avoid conversations about. Many of these posts have sparked some great debates and dialogue. The second week of school, Sinobia began searching for ways to enhance the Black History Month celebrations at ETHS. Through her inquiry, she was given the duties of assisting in the coordinating many of the Black History Month celebrations that will happen at her school this year. She participated in the Black Girls Summit at ETHS this fall and joined the #blacklivesmatter movement through her attendance at the #blacklivesmatter meetings in Evanston.
Sinobia rounded out the 2015 year by doing the black girl "woke" big-chop. She cut off all of her chemically treated hair and went natural (with some pink hair dye). Towards the end of the year, she also found herself participating in a sit-in at an Evanston District 65 Board meeting. Parents, students, teachers and community members gathered at the District65 building in response to the PARCC test results that were released in December. The test results showed that the historical achievement gap between black, Hispanic and white students is still growing in our Evanston schools. At the end of the meetings community comment hour, Sinobia stood up to be the last speaker of the evening. She gave a brave and honest speech about her positive experience in District 65, but also charged those on the Board to think about how they can assist in helping schools and teachers build relationships with parents and students so that they can feel as if they are welcomed, understood and valued in their schools and in their classrooms.
Tracy has spent the past year becoming unapologetic about her blackness, her boldness and her sassiness. At work, in the community, and amongst her friends, she has decided that she is who she is...take it or leave it. During this process of discovery and transformation, Tracy has taken on some difficult challenges, confrontations and conversations with her peers and colleagues. It started with a Trayvon Martin t-shirt, a #nopeacenojustice t-shirt, a #blacklivesmatter t-shirt and then the posting of a #blacklivesmatter sign in her classroom. Some Allies were made, some lost, but in the end everyone pretty much knows where she stands when it comes to being a black woman in America (and in Evanston & Wilmette).
For the past few years, Tracy has worked on developing a curriculum for her kindergarten classroom that teaches about peace, justice, equity and diversity. This curriculum is based on teaching children about these concepts throughout the entire school year and not just for Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Through honest conversations, the exploration of the Civil Rights Movement era, learning about peace makers and game changers in history and discovering past and present injustices in our world, the children in her classroom are empowered with knowledge that will allow them enter into the world as informed peacemakers of the future.
This year, Tracy wrote a proposal to present her classroom work and curriculum at the 2015 POCC conference in Tampa, FL. Her proposal was accepted and she successfully presented her work to a room filled with enthusiastic educators. This was her first presentation experience in her teaching career and it proved to be a positive experience as she received much positive feedback from attendees of her presentation.
We appreciate all of our family and friends, allies and colleagues that have supported us through this magnificent year of discovery, empowerment, and cultural appreciation. Next year we will continue to work towards educating not only ourselves but others who are willing to be WOKE....
Happy 2016 from The Aiden Family!