The Wake Up: Closing the Gap Between Good Intentions and Real Change By Michelle Mijung Kim Book Review

Book Description

Waking Up to Our Capacity to Transform Ourselves and the World 

As we become more aware of various social injustices in the world, many of us want to be part of the movement toward positive change. But sometimes our best intentions cause unintended harm, and we fumble. We might feel afraid to say the wrong thing and feel guilt for not doing or knowing enough. Sometimes we might engage in performative allyship rather than thoughtful solidarity, leaving those already marginalized further burdened and exhausted. The feelings of fear, insecurity, inadequacy are all too common among a wide spectrum of changemakers, and they put many at a crossroads between feeling stuck and giving up, or staying grounded to keep going. So how can we go beyond performative allyship to creating real change in ourselves and in the world, together?

In The Wake Up, Michelle MiJung Kim shares foundational principles often missing in today’s mainstream conversations around “diversity and inclusion,” inviting readers to deep dive into the challenging and nuanced work of pursuing equity and justice, while exploring various complexities, contradictions, and conflicts inherent in our imperfect world. With a mix of in-the-trenches narrative and accessible unpacking of hot button issues—from inclusive language to representation to “cancel culture”—Michelle offers sustainable frameworks that guide us how to think, approach, and be in the journey as thoughtfully and powerfully as possible. 

The Wake Up is divided into four key parts:

Grounding: begin by moving beyond good intentions to interrogating our deeper “why” for committing to social justice and uncovering our “hidden stories.”

Orienting: establish a shared understanding around our historical and current context and issues we are trying to solve, starting with dismantling white supremacy.

Showing Up: learn critical principles to approach any situation with clarity and build our capacity to work through complexity, nuance, conflict, and imperfections.

Moving Together: remember the core of this work is about human lives, and commit to prioritizing humanity, healing, and community.

The Wake Up is an urgent call for us to move together while seeing each other’s full and expansive humanity that is at the core of our movement toward justice, healing, and freedom.

Review

Thank you to Hachette Books for providing me with an advanced copy and finished copy of this book. I winded up listening to this one on audio and really enjoyed it in that format. It is one that I hope to re-visit either on audio or through physical book because one read through isn’t enough to take in everything that was taught in this book.

As someone who went into education because I want to cause change, and I am continuously educating myself on social justice efforts, I found that this is a great book to introduce people to this topic. I thought this was a good introduction text as it was easy to follow and answered a lot of questions that I had.

Something that I found valuable in this book was the author’s identities, it was important that it was an author with multiple marginalized identities being included in diversity, equity, and inclusion work. Often times I see the same voices being uplifted in DEI work and I want to hear a variety of voices and opinions when it comes to this work. I was very pleased to have multiple intersectional identities be addressed throughout this book.

Something else that I loved about this book was the way that it was organized throughout different chapters. I liked that the book was separated into different sections that talked about different topics because it made it so that you can put the book down and return to it at a later time. I liked the four parts that this book separates things into because of what each portion focuses on.

I also really liked that within each chapter there is a way to pause and return later to a chapter so that you have time to reflect on that portion of the book.

Author Information

Michelle MiJung Kim

Michelle MiJung Kim (she/her) is a queer immigrant Korean American woman writer, speaker, activist, and entrepreneur. She is the author of The Wake Up (Hachette, Fall 2021). She is CEO and co-founder of Awaken, a leading provider of interactive equity and inclusion education programs facilitated by majority BIPOC educators, where she has consulted hundreds of organizations and top executives from Fortune 500, tech giants, nonprofits, and government agencies to spark meaningful change. Michelle has been a lifelong social justice activist and has served on a variety of organizations such as the San Francisco LGBTQ Speakers Bureau, San Francisco Human Rights Commission’s Advisory Committee, LYRIC nonprofit’s Board of Directors, and Build Tech We Trust Coalition. Michelle currently serves on the board of Asian Americans for Civil Rights and Equality (AACRE). Her work has appeared on world-renowned platforms such as Harvard Business Review, Forbes, The New York Times, and NPR, and she has been named Medium’s Top Writer in Diversity three years in a row. She lives in Oakland, California.

1 thought on “The Wake Up: Closing the Gap Between Good Intentions and Real Change By Michelle Mijung Kim Book Review

  1. Pingback: February 2022 Wrap Up | Unconventional_Quirky_Bibliophile

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