Whoomp ! There It Is (updated)

In 1992, the pom pom squad at my high school… a group of girls who would jungle walk and wop, while the cheerleaders did backflips and splits, to the newest and most banging hip hop songs on the radio in short skirts and with lots of attitude during games…. performed a routine to the song “Whoomp (There it is)” by Tag Team. It was a Miami bass song that at the time was a huge urban song, played on tbd radio every five minutes. But about a year or two later it appeared in the Addams Family movie and then the Mighty Ducks film, and then the White soccer moms got ahold of it. Soon, it went from Bobbie Jean’s hips hitting the 2 and the 4 to Nancy clapping on the 1 and the 3.

Ijeoma Oluo in her book, So You Want to Talk About Race defines cultural appropriation as “the adoption or exploitation of another culture by a more dominant culture”. More specifically this happens when dominant culture ends up benefitting more from the creation of art by other cultures that are not similarly compensated. Ultimately Tag Team benefitted from their song going mainstream… but very often even the appropriation of an idea, slang, or phrase results in some harm being done to the creating culture.

Niggas acting woke, but the broke-J.Cole, 1985

Now stay woke/Niggas Creepin/They gon find you/ Gon catch you sleepin-Childish Gambino, Redbone

What is wokeness? The first time, on record, “stay woke” was uttered was in the spoken afterword in the 1938 song “Scottsboro Boys,” a protest song by Blues musician Lead Belly. Years later in 1962, William Melvin Kelly was credited with coining woke in his 1962 New York Times essay “If You’re Woke You Dig It”. So the story goes, the word was kind of passed down through griots to the writer and speaker on Master Teacher by Erykah Badu, Georgia Anne Muldrow. Muldrow moved from Cali to Harlem where she lived in the same area as artists Bilal, Robert Glasper, Badu, Questlove, Common, and Q-Tip. Muldrow, known to walk around with a tee that had “Stay Woke” written above the heart, recorded with Badu through her affiliation with these musicians and MCs.

“What if it were no niggas
Only master teachers?
I stay woke” -Erykah Badu, Master Teacher

And so it began. The term Stay Woke gained steam after the police killing of Michael Brown and the start of Black Lives Matter. At its inception it was meant as a sort of a two word guide to survival as a Black person in the streets, being aware of what was happening around you at all times and prepared to act if necessary. As opposed to being unaware. It was first co-opted by hoteps and Black nationalists who used it as a sort of way to put down other Black people as not being aware enough of Black politics and history. But true to form, it has now been appropriated by right wingers to paint Black people who fight for social justice, diversity, equity, the inclusion of a more complete and accurate account of Black history in schools, the acknowledgement of racist ideology and systems in America and their impact in communities of color, and Blackness as politically correct leftist zealots who seek to marginalize Whiteness. How silly.

“I’m Black and I’m Proud” to “I’m rooting for everybody Black” was never a denigration of Whiteness, it was a celebration of Blackness that we had been told, in this country, since 1619, was unacceptable and not worthy of pride. These proclamations of Black excellence were what we needed to know it was ok to embrace our hair, our skin, our creativity, our ancestry, our beauty, and our struggles… our many struggles. However, white fragility dictates that as soon as we become too positively anything, it needs to be tamped down, heeled, and extinguished. So while we were expressing the need for us to keep our eyes open for ourselves and each other… to stop and help, videotape, to acknowledge one another’s presence in a hostile situation, to lend support, to be our brother’s keeper… in the face of police brutality, white supremacists were trying to fight against social justice, diversity, equity, the inclusion of a more complete and accurate account of Black history in schools, the acknowledgement of racist ideology and systems in America and their impact in communities of color, and Blackness.

It is Ron DeSantis trying to pass anti-woke laws… sir?!?! Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert tweeting that singing “Lift Every Voice” at NFL games where almost 70% of players are Black is wokeness that needs to stop or equating divisiveness with being woke.

Critical race theory, which none of these idiots even know the definition of, is being linked to making White children feel bad … about being White. This shit is “whoomp there it is”, “my bad”, and “bye Felicia” times twelve thousand. It’s Kim Kardashian trying her hardest to look like Beyoncé on instagram, but in the US Capitol. They all need to stop because they look and sound silly AF! I honestly feel like this is payback for the “Karen” phenomenon.

At their white supremacist meeting, the women threatened to withhold the box from their husbands unless they did something about them being called “Karen” to their faces. Gotta be. That’s all that makes sense. We know that white women’s tears are often invoked to massage White men’s desire to save White women. I mean I am trivializing a bit, but I just want to highlight how fucking ridiculous it really is. White right wing politicians using Black social justice terminology and the Black Republicans who support them (still nigga or whatever Jay-Z said) are just turning our ideas against us to harm us… racism. And ….

They are talking more about banning books about Black history than little babies being shot. “We’re not gonna fix it”, Republican Representative Tim Burchett told reporters regarding the Nashville school shooting. No ban on assault weapons but the rest of his party has surely taken on banning wokeness. “I think they mean Black…” Erykah Badu recently told Ari Melber. Erykah, it certainly doesn’t mean awareness. No gun laws , no police reform, no prison reform, no racial policy reform… but they sure are anti-Black, err uh I mean anti-woke.

“Check it to wreck it, let’s begin!”

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