#Woke is having a moment. As The Root contributor Lawrence Ware notes, because of police brutality and the Black Lives Matter movement, “The masses of black folks who were lulled to sleep by economic opportunity have now awoken to the fact that race is, and will remain, a central part of the black experience.”
But Ware also notes that being woke isn’t reserved for black people. Here are some white folks who are keenly aware of what’s really going on and are using their privilege to speak out about injustice.
1. J.K. Rowling
Twitter trolls, J.K. Rowling is not here for your foolishness. The Harry Potter author (and apparent Chamillionaire fan) has used the social media platform to clap back at racist Twitter users who were mad that a black actress was cast to play Hermoine in the upcoming Harry Potter play:
She defended tennis legend Serena Williams against body-shaming attacks:
And when the trolls got fed up and called her out for using her wealth and privilege, she dropped a rap lyric on ’em:
2. Peggy McIntosh
The scholar and founder of the National SEED Project on inclusive curriculum helped define the very idea of white privilege. In 1988 Peggy McIntosh wrote the essay, “White Privilege and Male Privilege: A Personal Account of Coming to See Correspondences Through Work in Women’s Studies” (pdf), in which she listed 46 examples in which being white has its advantages, including the following:
6. I can turn on the television or open to the front page of the paper and see people of my race widely and positively represented. …
21. I am never asked to speak for all the people of my racial group.
22. I can remain oblivious to the language and customs of persons of color who constitute the world's majority without feeling in my culture any penalty for such oblivion. …
28. I can be pretty sure that an argument with a colleague of another race is more likely to jeopardize her chances for advancement than to jeopardize mine. …
40. I can choose public accommodation without fearing that people of my race cannot get in or will be mistreated in the places I have chosen.
The pop star is using her Instagram account to speak out against police brutality and support the Black Lives Matter movement and the LGBT community after the Orlando, Fla., nightclub shootings.
A photo posted by P!NK (@pink) on Jul 7, 2016 at 1:20pm PDT
And for those who can’t stand the fact that Pink is speaking out, she has a suggestion:
A photo posted by P!NK (@pink) on Jul 7, 2016 at 2:37pm PDT
4. Stephen King
After another Baltimore police officer was cleared in the death of Freddie Gray, Stephen King took to Twitter to point out just how ridiculous that decision was:
In one simple tweet, the man behind the books and movies that have given us plenty of nightmares highlighted the living nightmare of being black in America.
5. Mark Ruffalo
Mark Ruffalo has been vocal about the lack of diversity in Hollywood, even speaking out on the red carpet to ABC’s Robin Roberts at this year’s Academy Awards about #OscarsSoWhite.
“That’s a real issue. It’s time for our country to have this conversation in an earnest way,” the actor said. “It’s happening in the criminal-justice system, the education system, and it should be happening here in Hollywood. Who else to represent the needs of these than their fellow liberals, you know?”
He’s also spoken out on the water crisis in Flint, Mich., penning a piece in the Washington Post, and supported the BLM movement on Twitter.
Also, he’s approved by Ava DuVernay. Can’t have much more cred than that.
6. Patricia Leary
The Whittier Law School professor literally schooled some miseducated students who were offended when she recently wore a “Black Lives Matter” T-shirt on campus. In a letter to the professor, the anonymous students said the shirt was “highly offensive” and “inappropriate.”
In her response, Patricia Leary broke it all the way down for them, stating: “I am accepting the invitation in your memo, and the opportunity created by its content, to teach you. I would prefer to do it through a conversation, or especially through a series of conversations. Because I don’t know who you are, this isn’t possible.”
She then set up a series of assertions made in the letter, only to swat them away like some bothersome flies:
Premise: You are not paying for my opinion.
Critique: You are not paying me to pretend I don’t have one.
Premise: You know more about legal education than I do.
Critique: You don’t.
Premise: Saying “Black Lives Matter” is an expression of racial hatred of white people.
Critique: “Black Lives Matter” is not a statement about white people. It does not exclude white people. It does not accuse white people, unless you are a specific white person who perpetrates, endorses or ignores violence against black people. If you are one of those people, then somebody had better be saying something to you.
Professor Leary’s entire letter is worth a read.
7. Matt McGorry
On How to Get Away With Murder, Matt McGorry plays the fairly clueless bro Asher Millstone, but in real life, his eyes are wide open. Across social media, McGorry has shown support for racial justice, black folks, feminism and women in general:
He’s also bros with some pretty woke dudes:
8. Tim Wise
The anti-racism activist and author of White Like Me has made a career of dismantling racial hatred by showing white folks how to check their privilege. One blogger even labeled Tim Wise the “Most Hated White Man in America.”
Writing things like this could probably get your white card revoked:
For all y’all rich folks, enjoy that champagne, or whatever fancy ass Scotch you drink. And for y’all a bit lower on the economic scale, enjoy your Pabst Blue Ribbon, or whatever sh—y ass beer you favor.
Whatever the case, and whatever your economic station, know this…
You need to drink up.
Because your time is limited.
Real damned limited.
Of course, getting a white card revoked in this country is damn near impossible. But if these folks get their way, that day may come soon.