Getting Woke, A Retrospective — The Introduction

Getting Woke, A Retrospective — The Introduction (in which 33 year old me loses her mask and speaks up)
Getting Woke 1)For more about this, see “What Does It Mean to be “Woke” by Raven Cras on Blavity, A Retrospective — The Introduction (in which 33 year old me loses her mask and speaks up) [image credits]

I don’t remember ever having the luxury of not being aware of my race and that I was treated differently as a result. I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately, trying to remember a time when I didn’t know that having brown skin meant I was treated as “less than” or “other”.

I can’t.

Every day I wake up and swim in the polluted cess pool that is being a brown face in America. The vast majority of white people I will come into contact with are either outright racially prejudiced or naïve (which allows the prejudice to continue unchecked). On any given day, I am likely to be met with prejudice and silence from other white people in the face of that prejudice.

I have spent my entire life code switching2)For more about this, see “What’s so wrong with ‘sounding black’?” by Tami Winfrey Harris for Psychology Today to make white people more comfortable, pushing down my sense of “otherness” to not grate white sensibilities and not responding to insult-compliments3)For more about this, see “Microaggression” in Merriam Webster’s Words We’re Watching column like “I don’t even think of you as black”.

Racial issues are not something I can escape or have the privilege of not thinking about. It is something I am always super aware of, something that always has to matter to me.

This is my life. This is the life of many of my family, many of my black friends.


It’s 2016 and I believe I was born with brown skin for a reason. If I believe (and I do) that the God of the Universe puts nations in specific times and places4)Acts 17:26 and ordains kings and authorities5)Romans 13:1, so that people would be drawn to Him6)Acts 17:27; if I believe (and I do) that He formed me in my mother’s womb7)Psalm 139:13, that He purposed good works for me to walk in8)Ephesians 2:10, then I have to believe that He made Valery Sykes (née Pritchett) black in America in this time for a reason.

I’m not sure what that is.

But I do know that in this time of heightened racial awareness that, as many of my white acquaintances are fumbling as they are becoming aware of race in a new way right now and are asking for me and many others in the black community to share our experiences, I can take off the mask I so often wear and invite you into my journey. I can let you see my pain and share with you the pivotal moments from my life.

I hope you’ll understand why I’m blogging — I have more courage and clarity when the words get to come from my hands rather than my mouth. And because I promised myself I wouldn’t lie or sidestep when I’m hurting, here’s another truth about why I chose this format: the tears are very close to the surface when I have conversations about racism and justice, and I am an ugly crier.

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10 thoughts on “Getting Woke, A Retrospective — The Introduction”

    1. Okay, Katy! I’ve inserted a subscription form to have posts sent to readers via email. Are you up for giving that a try?

  1. If you and I are both made on the image of God, our Creator, specifically Jesus Christ, who made all things by the will of the Father, then you need to rejoice and spread the good news of His grace….and not worry about what others think because only God who made them can change them, just as He changes your heart for a heart of love for those who in ignorance of their own “being created in His image”. God is love, Jesus is Lord!

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