By Caroline Shapley | Echo
Combining the month of February and the idea of being "woke"- being actively aware of systemic injustice and prejudice - especially related to civil and human rights - the Office of Intercultural Programs (OIP), has created WOKEuary. This idea originated last semester, and since then OIP has created a month full of events, with Woke Week being the biggest of February. The purpose of WOKEuary is to have a month where the Taylor community can engage with and reflect upon Black History Month.
"We wanted a way for campus to engage critically with Black History Month and remind everyone that this is not only relevant for Black students, but this is a history we share. The goal is to keep students engaged at all costs, because for most, the conversations around race and social injustice can be easily ignored," said senior Halie Owens. Owens is the Black Student Union (BSU) co-president along with senior Tiless Turnquest.
The week of Feb. 19-23 will be Woke Week, with each day dedicated to discussing and exploring specific themes. For example, Tuesday, Feb. 20 will have the theme of the social justice system where a screening of the movie "13th" will be played in Cornwall and a discussion panel afterward to discuss the importance of protest.
Purposes of the week will be to bring reflection to ideas and themes being featured, even if they choose not to respond to questions BSU raises. Owens suggests that this is one of the easiest ways to become engaged.
Throughout next week, people will be wearing t-shirts around campus identifying involvement with Woke Week, and encouraging people to start up conversation with them. People wearing these t-shirts are ready to be approached and asked deep and thoughtful questions. It is encouraged for students of all race to be engaged with Woke Week.
"Taylor is famed for its intentional community, so let's be who we say we are," Owens said. "Get to know the person of color on your wing, not because they are a person of color, but because he/she is a person who lives with you. When someone tells you their experience, don't get defensive/disengaged just because you may not agree with it. Listen, because you cannot define Taylor or any other experience for someone else."
BSU wants to encourage students to engage with Woke Week to learn how to think for themselves and not just what has been previously passed on down to them. Some advice from the BSU is for individuals to do their research and to understand and validate others' opinions and feelings. Even though certain topics of race or division may be tough and uncomfortable conversations, it is encouraged to be open-minded and trust that working to bridge the gap between others is worth it.