Living in this technological era: everybody has a platform.
A great many have found social media to be a one stop shop for connecting with others and learning a multitude of things, mind if not sharing a multitude of learning. You truly don’t have to venture very far to have information at your fingertips.
There has been a steady rise in the usage and assigning of words like ‘woke’ and ‘woke celebrities’ to describe the enlightened and still brightening light that is being shone on those with platform. However, like anything else, this becomes a slippery slope. There are celebrities/ influencers /personalities that advocate and promote causes that are near to them or that they wish for others to learn about. You will find them scheduled for panels to discuss topics ranging from sexuality to politics, or even posting links to other sources where you can find more information on the topic.
Now, the real: nobody’s perfect.
Even the most ‘woke’ of celebrities have missteps. We’ve got Amandla Stenberg, the young activist meets actress meets #blackgirlmagic ,who came under fire for accepting a questionable movie project that raised eyebrows and caused multiple questions and many a twitter thread about the context for the setting in which the story is to take place.
A few weeks ago, we also saw the saga of the well-known poet and women’s speaker, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, who came under fire for her comments on a marginalized community and instead of being quiet and listening, she doubled down and further insulted the community even more. She’s since apologized, but many are still smarting from her comments.
Then we have Chris Evans, the seemingly living embodiment of the superhero he plays on the big screen, who openly roots for a highly problematic, [redacted] supporting quarterback, going so far to say that he gives said quarterback a “pass” when it comes to his political alliances.
So naturally, the knee jerk reaction is to ‘cancel’ them. Because at this juncture of political and social unrest and unease, there’s a feeling of wanting the people that are speaking for you… to get it.
However, this ‘wokeness’ needs to be defined and understood. Using your platform to educate is not a free pass to say whatever and do whatever and not expecting anyone to check you about it. There are still some lingering internal microaggressions and misogynistic things that people are still unlearning and to not think and speak from that place- it’s damaging. That’s not reasonable. That’s not how you educate. That’s not how you learn.
With platform comes hyper-visibility.
When there are eyes on your brand and platform, there is a certain responsibility and standard that comes along with it. Whether you outright advocate or not, there is entirely too much information readily available and accessible to pull the “I don’t see what the problem is” card.
When a group of people are specifically telling anyone that they’ve been offended by actions, there’s nothing more infuriating then the culprit responding back in an apathetic manner.
While some apologies fall flat and it is noted, it’s a special kind of magic when one apologizes and genuinely strives to be better in how they interact with communities and persons. It shows that learning is a constant process. No one was born knowing everything, but it takes a level of humility and a willingness to be taught to change behaviors, habits and words.
On the same vein, there are some things that are purely personal decisions. Take that as it is. There is no foolproof way to avoid doing anything that won’t piss someone off. It’s kind of inevitable.
Just remember: Listening is free, learning is accessible.
Written by Aubri Elle