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Jesus Was Woke

In light of the attacks on being Woke, from the Governor of Florida, in particular and other racist adjacent governors like the Governor of Texas, there has been a false and misleading narrative about something that Black people created called “Staying Woke.”

And this attack on being woke in reality is another attack on people of African Ancestry’s ability to self-determine themselves.

Staying woke has been a part of Black people’s lives ever since Africans were stolen from their homeland and dragged to these shores to be sold on auction blocks, worked from can’t see in the morning till can’t see at night for free, beaten, raped and robbed of their culture and language. Staying woke for Black people in this nation has been all about survival in a savagely violent society.

The Grio writer Michael Harriot, in one of his latest articles, referenced Blues singer Lead Belly who wrote a song about the nine Black boys who were falsely accused of raping two white women and were unjustly incarcerated in Alabama.

The Boys came to be known as the Scottsboro Boys, and Lead Belly at the end of his song spoke these words, “I’d advise everybody to be a little careful when you go down thru there. JUST STAY WOKE, keep your eyes open.”

Lead Belly coined a clarion call to Black people to stay ever vigilante in this violent society and that call resonated with Black people for 84 years until white people became aware of it, then actively attempted to co-opt it. Now MAGA-minded people like DeSantis are aggressively trying to kill the spirit of “Staying Woke,” in these, according to Queen mother Maya Angelou, “Yet to be United States.”

In fact, and most importantly for people of the Christian faith Jesus not only was woke, but Jesus advised and instructed his followers to “Stay Woke.”

Remember when He was in the Garden of Gethsemane? He told His disciples, in particular Peter, James and John to watch while He went to pray. And when He came back, he found them sound asleep and told them to “Stay Woke.” He came back two other times and found them still sleep and said on both occasions to Stay Woke. Jesus was woke and advised others to Stay Woke.

Remember when Jesus told the parable of the 10 Bridesmaids? He said five bridesmaids prepared the oil of their lamps ahead of time but five were lazy and did not. Jesus called them the foolish bridesmaids.

Jesus said they all fell asleep. Jesus then said when news of the bridegroom coming was announced, the five that were prepared were able to go with the bridegroom, but the five foolish bridesmaids could not because instead of preparing themselves by getting the oil ready, they went to sleep. Then Jesus told His disciples, “Therefore Stay Woke, because no one knows the day or the hour…”

And in the gospel of Mark, Chapter 13, Jesus told another story about watchfulness. He said a man went on a journey and left his servants in charge and each had their own responsibilities. And Jesus then said, “Be alert,” that means stay woke, In fact Jesus says Be Alert/Stay Woke at least three times in this one story.

Jesus was not only Woke but, because Jesus was a part of a group of African people in Biblical Palestine who were being occupied and colonized by Europeans from Rome, Jesus quite often advised and instructed them to Stay Woke. Stay Woke, Jesus would caution because their enemies were relentless in their attempts to totally dominate them.

If Jesus the Lord of the church was Woke and advised his followers to Stay Woke, then we who live in 21st century North America must Stay Woke.

Stay Woke means to stay alert to the satanic and sadistic strategies of voter suppression by white racists. Stay Woke means to stay attentive to the dubious double talk of white liberals who pretend to be allies, but in reality secretly support white dominance. Stay Woke means to stay watchful on how Black wealth is diminished when Black people don’t support Black businesses. Stay Woke means stay aware of how white racists use ignorant self-hating Blacks like Clarence Thomas, Candace Owens and Black people who associate themselves with MAGA crowds to attempt to diminish and dilute the agency and advocacy of people of African Ancestry against the attempts to re-subjugate Black people in this nation. Stay Woke.

Staying Woke for Black people is a survival strategy. In 1975 Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes lifted a call to “Wake Up, Everybody” and Stay Woke.

Spike Lee intentionally titled his 1988 movie “School Daze.” And if you noticed Spike spelled the word “Daze,” rather than “Days,” because Spike was sending a message that too many people of African ancestry were living in a Daze of colorism where lighter complexioned Blacks were looking down on darker complexioned Blacks.

Spike was sending a message that far too many in the Black community had been brainwashed into a slumber of valuing straight hair over naturally curly or creatively kinky hair. Spike was also pointing out that too many HBCUs were in a Daze of centering European standards, curriculums and agendas over the needs of Black people in Black institutions who needed Africana studies as the center of their curriculums. Finally at the end of the movie the character Dap played by Laurence Fishburne rings the school bell of the mythical Mission College, screaming at the top of his voice, “Wake Up!!!”

Beloved, Jesus instructed us over two thousand years ago to Stay Woke, so please Stay Woke!!!

Knowing The Truth - Part I
Rev. John E. Jackson
Senior Pastor at | + posts

Rev. Dr. John E. Jackson, Sr. is the Senior Pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ-Gary, 1276 W. 20th Ave. in Gary. “We are not just another church but we are a culturally conscious, Christ-centered church, committed to the community; we are unashamedly Black and unapologetically Christian.”

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