Last year was a roller coaster of emotions and uncertainty.
Our sadness, fears, and anger have gotten the best of many of us. But the good news is that 2017 is the perfect time to ignite a "Woke" mindset and consciousness that will keep you grounded. Be a teacher and a student. Commit to content and context this year. Here are a few tips to stay Woke.
There is real power in the knowledge that is shared in a good book. Read and share books that that anchor you on the receiving end in history, context and the lens of impactful Black voice.
Not sure where to start? Check out Purdue University Librarian, Jamillah Gabriel's pet project, Call Number, a curated literature box of books from Black authors from America, the Caribbean and Africa. Subscriptions start at $35 per month. Or create your own list of novels and nonfiction favorites.
If you are a food lover, add James Beard award winner, The Jemima Code from journalist and food historian, Toni Tipton Martin to your reading list. It is a great compilation of 200 years of African-American cookbooks and the invisible cooks who have produced them. Food bears hidden gems about history and culture in America and beyond.
Wearing the Woke Word
Message t-shirts, mugs and bags are big any time. Check out gear that demands attention from ForHarriet.com. Whether it is the names of her favorite Black female authors, civil rights leaders, musicians, and a favorite with the names of fierce characters from television (Olivia, Annalise, Mary Jane and Cookie, all make great gifts. Also check out
Also check out Tough Skin, Soft Heart, a line of candles, note cards and t-shirts from entrepreneur, Shannon Cohen. We love the "Girl, You Were Made for Greatness" tees.
Support the Woke Allies
If you want to make an impact understand your economic power. Be mindful of how and where you spend your money. Buy local, spend on Black businesses, and with companies big and small that support your values. Penzey's a nationally known cooking spice company, a favorite among home cooks and chefs alike, took a stand against racism, classism and genderism with a scathing manifesto against hate that went viral. Send your favorite foodies a care package with an explanation of what it means to tell your truth in the coming months and years.
Support Woke Cities
Think about investing in a city on the comeback when you spend your cash. Shinola in Detroit creates watches, bikes and journals all in the city. The company creates jobs and opportunities, and is revitalizing skilled trade opportunities once again.
Check out Quirky Brown Love's 2016 Ultimate Black Business Guide to Shopping for Everyone on Your Shopping List for 500 ideas on being economically woke and making your dollars count.
Curated Your Own Woke Film Festival
Spring for a subscription to Netflix for your aware friends to check out the important documentaries like 13th from filmmaker, Ava DuVernay, and What Happened Miss Simone, on the life and music of Nina Simone. While they are at it they can check out Marvel's "Luke Cage", and "The Get Down", a drama series about the early years of Hip Hop in the Bronx that will be returning for the second season soon. Subscriptions start at $8 a month.
Henry Louis Gates' Black America Since MLK: And Still I Rise, which is free to stream on PBS, as well as his Emmy-award winning The Africa Americans Many Rivers to Cross six-part series that traces African-Americans from slavery to the election of President Barack Obama.
Although it first aired in 2009, The Black List, a collection of intimate and surprising interviews with Toni Morrison, Whoopi Goldberg, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Colin Powell and others, from photographer Timothy Greenfield Sanders and journalist Elvis Mitchell, is as important and timely as ever.
Don't Forget the Music
We all took a big hit in 2016 with the passing of His Royal Badness, Prince. Lose yourself in a playlist of the best of his music over the years. Nothing else to say about that, dearly beloved, as we move through this thing called life, right?
Make a Woke Donation
Make a donation to the Children's Defense Fund, TheBlack Women's Health Imperative, The Southern Poverty Law Center, Black Lives Matter, an HBCU or other national organizations that have significance in communities of color. Do your homework and make a gift to a local organization that is doing great hands-on work in your community.
Have a Woke Experience
For years, poet Nikki Giovanni has advised us all to invest our money in adventures, not stuff. A trip to the National Museum of African American History and Culture at the Smithsonian in Washington, DC goes right at the top of the list. This is Us.
If you can snag them, purchase tickets to Hamilton, the Musical. But also check out the seriously woke Anna Deveare Smith in her one-woman show, Notes from the Field, which is a part of her powerful Pipeline Project. Nobody brings diverse American voices to life like Miss Anna. Or enjoy theater right where you are by taking in productions of local theater featuring the work of Black playwrights and diverse casts.
Make an Investment in Being a Boss
Follow your dreams and empower yourself by taking a class in running a small business. The Small Business Administration has a host of low-cost classes in all aspects of building and running or in some skill that will last a long time.
Find Your Roots and Wings
You have to know where you came from to know where you are going. A year-long membership and DNA test through Ancestry.com will help you on your journey. Spend a year discovering the journey and struggle of their ancestors. You may uncover some woke surprises.
Capture Important Stories
Get an inexpensive digital voice recorder or an app that will allow you to record interviews on your mobile phone, with relatives and older friends. In these trying times we all need to be reminded of the high price that has been paid for us to be here.
A Gift of Family History in Pictures
Set up a family shared account through Dropbox, iCloud, Google or some other photo sharing service and encourage your family members to include their own scanned and digital files of precious memories.
Take it a step further. Print out several copies of your most precious photo treasures and share with family. We rely so heavily on the images we capture through our phones and digital cameras but we risk losing our memories when we don't print them out.