Jennifer Robinson

In recent years, I have learned to appreciate a good nap!

My schedule, like many people, is filled with various activities. I don’t fight the urge to sleep as I did as a kid anymore, because my body, mind and spirit need to rest.

Those naps are important, because I am allowing my body sleep for recovery opportunities. As I get older, I don’t have to be convinced to go to sleep or even be lulled. I get my blanket and head to the nearest couch or bed.

I always feel better after a good rest. But socially, I have to remain conscious in regard to my surroundings and my community.

In recent years, the phrase “stay woke” has become popular in American culture. This is especially true in African-American culture. Being “woke” is to be socially conscious about issues that affect us.

I am always “woke” about issues regarding violence and trauma. Those are issues that I will never sleep on or even close my eyes. In fact, there will never be a sleep aid that will cause me to close my eyes to what is occurring in our country in 2019.

While many people are focusing their eyes on politics, others are distracted by things like when will Kanye’s album be released (I need an eye roll emoji here) or what does the word “lynching” really mean (I’m not going to entertain that one).

Did you know that in recent weeks there have been at least two reported cases of babies being raped and murdered in South Carolina? Children are being used as pawns in volatile relationships.

Men are using children as sex toys! And because it is so common now it is ignored that teachers are raping students and having their babies.

And yet when we get to the water coolers of our lives, the conversation is more about whether Meghan Markle has a place in the royal family.

Reporting on child sexual abuse is low in our state and in our country. Greenville Solicitor Walt Wilkins said in 2018, according to greenvilleonline.com, “From my perspective, one child who has been abused is a failure on so many levels because in my experience of dealing with young victims of criminal sexual conduct crimes, it’s hard to restore their faith in humanity after they have undergone such a traumatic experience.”

I really do not like watching or reading the news, and most people would argue that news watching is the ideal way to remain “woke.” Not necessarily. I mostly watch what is happening around me. I attend community events and listen to the people who are either responsible for encouraging change or those who the change will affect.

The water cooler conversations are the ones we should give attention to, because it provides insight into who really are the change agents in our community. If one party of that conversation is discussing volunteering at a local food bank and the other is discussing whether our president’s hair was combed to the left or the right, then I think we can guess who is more community minded.

This conversation is not about me sitting on a pillar chastising anyone. I just sometimes wonder how people can sit in front of CNN or Fox News all day, screaming at the TV about what is not right in our country and think that is creating change.

And this is not all about voting, which we should do. Get out and visit your homeless shelters and child advocacy centers. Learn about the work they do to help people get out of crisis and into better lives.

I will encourage you, the reader, to stay woke. Or in some instances, some of you need to simply wake up! Put aside your privileges, entitlements and titles. Look beyond yourselves and get out of bed. Wake up!

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Jennifer Guiles Robinson is an author and 2017 Ted X speaker who lives in Florence with her husband. She is a mother to three and has a dog named Prince. She enjoys travel and meeting new people. Jennifer can be reached at empoweredtoheal@gmail.com.

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