One of my favorite humans is none other than "cousin," the queen of classy and sassy clapbacks herself, Angela Rye. Besides being obviously beautiful, Rye is also widely known for her advocacy in social justice, political reform and tendency to remain unapologetically black whilst doing so. She recently coined the phrase #WorkWoke, a mantra she solemnly swears and lives by.
In her words, “It’s not important for us to ‘be woke’ or ‘stay woke’ anymore.” Instead, Rye challenges us to "work woke" and get serious about creating the world we envision by fulfilling our earthly mission. #WorkWoke is all about attainable action. It’s about implementing and putting our knowledge to use, because we all know that faith without works is dead.
Inspired by Angela Rye’s fearless, faith-driven walk, here are five steps to guide you as you #WorkWoke:
1. Find Your "Why"
Everyone has an itching spark inside, something that tugs, pulls and has its calling over us. Maybe it’s something you went through and overcame personally. Or maybe, it’s something you care deeply about and want to devote your time here making better for future generations. Either way, we all have a purpose and a "why."
Whether it’s physical or mental health, eco and environmental awareness, social justice, education, exposure to the arts, community building, anti-bullying, equality, LBGTQ rights, spiritual teaching, agriculture, world hunger, economic and wealth development, prevention of life-threatening diseases, the fight against human trafficking, prison reform, mentorship, or cruelty-free animal rights…the list is endless. Ask yourself and the Universe, “What am I fighting for?” Figuring out why you’re here, will help keep you fulfilled, focused, grounded and aligned with your greater purpose.
2. Get Super Passionate
There’s no room for lukewarm in the business of change. Either you’re in, or you’re out. After you’ve narrowed down your "why," it’s time to do some serious research. What’s the history and current state of this cause? What organizations, campaigns or people are already committed, and what are they doing to help? How can you help them? What’s going on worldwide, nationwide and locally?
Whatever you’re going to be giving your time to, you’ve got to know it and love it. You’ve got to wake up each day with the mindset of progression. You’ve got to track what works and what doesn’t — all for the sake of change. Plus, as we’ve learned from cousin Angela, nothing beats the fraud like the facts and knowing what the hell you’re talking about. You’re going to be up against some people who won’t like your passion and what you’re doing to help the cause, but by being a known, well-versed advocate, you won’t back down.
3. Find a Community and Get Involved (Consistently)
OK. Grab your pen because this one is a real #WorkWoke, "walk it like you talk it" gem. You’ve gotten clarity on your "why." You know the ins and outs. Now, it’s time to apply everything you know and turn it into some action. This is the part where we get tripped up. We have all the knowledge, but we file it away, hoping someone else will be brave enough to kick off the movement. Here’s what cousin Angela wants us to do. She wants us to BE the change; to stop overthinking service and get involved, consistently.
For instance, if your "why" is social justice, you can start by joining local activist groups like the NAACP. If you’re passionate about improving conditions of homelessness, find a local shelter to volunteer each week, or donate food and perishable items monthly. Take the little homies in your neighborhood to a safe park. There are tons of community groups that support the prevention of diseases and need assistance with health fairs, walks and relays. Caring about the environment starts with picking up trash in your own yard. If you’ve got a thing for furry friends, sign up to care for them every Saturday at the animal shelter. If you don’t have [time] to do any of this, simply find a way to donate or extend your support after researching, of course. It doesn’t matter if you only help one person. Can you imagine if everyone you know made an effort to helping at least one person each week? That’s still a lot of people and a lot of change.
4. Phone a Friend
While I don’t believe one should only serve to flaunt, I’m definitely here for using social media platforms for the greater good (not saying you have to compromise your IG aesthetic or become the annoying guy on Twitter who drags everyone else for not being woke enough). There are pros, however, to using the internet to promote and inspire change. One great example of this was the #BlackPantherChallenge, created by a guy named Frederick Joseph. He launched and used the hashtag via social media in efforts to send kids all over the U.S. to see Marvel’s latest film. The challenge became so popular and widespread that not only celebs, but people in communities everywhere, even my own, began buying out theaters just so kids could see themselves on screen. Something as simple as creating a GoFundMe and sharing your "why" on the timeline could influence or support a way bigger and more special moment. It doesn’t always have to be you begging others for money online, either. You can use your profile to share information and be a resource for those who may want to get on board, but don’t know how. All I’m saying is, there's strength in numbers. And together, we’re an entire ocean.
5. Stay Encouraged
When working, especially in our modern world, it’s easy to get distracted and discouraged. It’s easy to feel like you’re the only one who cares or what you’re doing isn’t going to make a difference. It’s also easy to get caught up in the idea that your contributions have to be substantial enough for social media to notice or they don’t really mean anything. But must I remind you? Nothing worth having or fighting for, comes easy.
The phrase, “You can’t pour from an empty cup,” is more than true. In order to continuously #WorkWoke, even when it’s tough and you feel like giving up, you’ve got to stay anchored in the very thing that lights you up. Constantly checking in with yourself and the spirit of the universe throughout this process of helping others is vital. Journaling, prayer and meditation, tons of self-care, awareness, balance and doing whatever it is you need to do to feed your faith is the only way you’ll find the mental, physical and spiritual strength to carry on.
Life is much bigger than our individual successes. Faith without works is dead. Be the change. Walk it like you talk it. #WorkWoke.