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"Woke" - Now What?

By Ebonee Magee-Dorsey | November 2021

“There are all too many people who, in some great period of social change, fail to achieve the new mental outlooks that the new situation demands. There is nothing more tragic than to sleep through a revolution. There can be no gainsaying of the fact that a great revolution is taking place in our world today. It is a social revolution, sweeping away the old order… The wind of change is blowing, and we see in our day and our age a significant development. … The great challenge facing every individual graduating today is to remain awake through this social revolution.”
- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., 1965, “Remaining Awake Through Great Revolution”
Over the past two years, numerous webinars, town hall forums, articles, books, conferences and much more have aimed to help educate us on racial justice, diversity, equity and trauma so that we can address issues as they arise, but more important, so that we can be proactive in helping our students face day-to-day challenges. As leaders in our schools and our school districts, we have the opportunity to pivot and design a truly equitable education system that our students deserve. As school counselors, it is our job to create nurturing environments that address social/emotional needs while simultaneously engaging in anti-racist learning that is impactful, rigorous and connected to students’ lived experiences. However, after becoming racially conscious, it is what we do with that knowledge that is vital.

We have the ethical obligation to be advocates for all students. This includes having tough conversations about social justice, equity in our schools, and ensuring that all students have access to quality education. We have to have conversations and call systemic injustice, discrimination and denial of opportunity to people of color based on their race by its name: racism. We cannot defeat racism unless we name it for what it is. As school counselors, this hard work starts with us. We have to know and understand our own biases while acknowledging them. This process will help us understand our beliefs, interactions, and how they affect others.

We are responsible for helping students develop a sense of responsibility for social justice and how they can contribute to a more just society and world. Students want to be involved in this conversation about racial injustice. Across the country, students are urging their schools and districts to take action against racial injustice or provide better education on historical and modern systemic racism. Our students just want to be heard and have a sense of belonging.

Magnolia State school counselors, we don’t have the luxury to do nothing because that leaves the door open for more trouble to arise. I charge you to continue to put into action the ASCA themes of leadership, advocacy, collaboration and systemic change. Continue to move out of your comfort zone, despite the risk, because your students are worth it. You – yes, YOU – are the change agent that has been called to do this great work of improving the lives of ALL students. Because being “woke” is no longer enough.

Dr. Ebonee Magee-Dorsey, NBCC, LPC, is a board member of the Magnolia State School Counselor Association.