To Be Aware Or Not To Be

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JARED GRUENWALD PHOTOGRAPHY

I think we have a lot of personal preferences when picking our inner circle. Before choosing to hang out with somebody we may look at things such as personality, compatibility, interests or even what music they listening to. Sometimes we may be as vain as to pay close attention to how they dress or judge how attractive they are before deciding to officially give them the “friend” title. However, as a person of color, I believe one of the biggest things for myself and my circle is social awareness.

Social awareness is the ability to comprehend and appropriately react to both broad problems of society and interpersonal struggles. Broad problems could range from capitalism to sexism. While interpersonal struggles are how these broad problems affect you. A socially aware individual would understand that women are paid less than men and can understand the implications that are associated with that scenario. Ask yourself this: Am I socially aware, is my circle aware, and if not, am I okay with that?

Carlton Johnson, 22, traveled from Pittsburgh with a church group to the “March for our Lives” rally in Washington, D.C.

Being a socially aware person of color is very important in my opinion. Being aware doesn’t just mean understanding racism, it means understanding the institutions that play into racism, so you as a person can work against it. It’s understanding religion and understanding how it affects generations and the implications behind it. Social consciousness is a gateway to understanding life itself and to me that’s real.

Now, is it fair to judge an individual for not being socially aware? Probably not, but that doesn’t mean you cannot want that for yourself and for the people around you. Imagine this, you’re an individual who just got passed up for a promotion simply because the other candidate was a different skin color. The situation itself is a product of discrimination and if you hit up your friends or your partner and explain it, would they understand how serious that is or even care at all. Could you be happy with someone who doesn’t understand the depth of African-American struggles? What would you do if they never wanted to understand? I need someone who is going to understand, or at least try.

Being aware means opens you up to the realest dynamics in life, helps you understand people and why they do the things they do. I think it’s important to surround yourself with people who are conscious and pushes you to become conscious. Don’t get me wrong, social awareness is amazing but it’s a blessing and a curse. You’re essentially out living your life, but you just know there are battles you may have for simply being a woman, queer, or of color. To say, “I don’t care about all of that,” is to say you don’t care about anyone effected by the discrimination of society. It is you saying that discrimination will never happen to you, but realistically, it happens to everyone, even those who believe they are above it all.

But, let me clear the air here. This is not me believing that socially unaware people are less than or even bad people. This is me believing they’re shorting themselves on the human experience by choosing ignorance. A world where everyone understands each other is a world of peace and harmony. I believe life itself is difficult enough without humans subconsciously judging other humans on sexuality, religion, or race.

I believe we owe this social knowledge to ourselves and the next generation. Young people need to know what world they are growing up it. This knowledge gives them the option to change it, live in it, or become a part of it. Social consciousness is why some of us have evolved to the degree that we have. We owe it to ourselves to become the best version of ourselves that we can be. Be the change you want to see and surround yourself with others who want to create change with you.

 

By Jacob Bonds, Sophomore, Malcolm X College

Twitter/IG: @jaluszn

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