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.
About the Author
Michelle MiJung Kim (she/her) is a queer immigrant Korean American woman writer, speaker, activist, and entrepreneur. She is CEO and co-founder of Awaken, a leading provider of interactive equity and inclusion education programs facilitated by majority people of color educators, where she has consulted hundreds of organizations and top executives across various industries, from technology to nonprofits to government agencies to universities. As a lifelong social justice advocate, Michelle 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 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. Michelle lives in Oakland, California.
“A useful meditation on navigating the often-turbulent energies that flow through our moral compasses, our human hearts, our equally human organizations, and the urgent demands of social justice.”—Resmaa Menakem, author of My Grandmother's Hands
“Kim shares valuable ways to elevate our practice in the work of creating equitable, just spaces around us—at work, interpersonally, and within ourselves. In The Wake Up, she deeply and humbly reflects on her own journey and how we can break cycles that perpetuate harm and use our means to build a just, inclusive community."—Candice M. Morgan, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Partner, GV
“Michelle is a practitioner that truly walks the walk. The Wake Up is a vulnerable exploration of activism, as raw and reflective as she is. I recommend for anyone ready to be pushed from just talking towards responsible action.”—Y-Vonne Hutchinson, CEO of ReadySet
“Our journey to creating connection and belonging has been inextricably linked to Michelle Kim's work with our teams. In The Wake Up, Michelle welcomes our imperfection and invites us on a journey to be become our better more awake selves.”—Melissa Thomas-Hunt, former Global Head of Diversity and Belonging, Airbnb; John Forbes Distinguished Professor of Business Administration, Darden School of Business, University of Virginia
“Michelle embodies and practices the entire spectrum of solidarity work and continues to invite and challenges others to join her in deepening our collective work. Michelle’s approach to the work of liberation is wrathfully compassionate and truly calls us to find our place in this movement.”—Kalaya'an Mendoza [He/Him/Siya], Director of U.S. Programs at Nonviolent Peaceforce
“Challenging, empowering, and purposeful, The Wake Up makes the foundational principles of allyship, equity, and justice accessible to all readers willing to do the work. Michelle MiJung Kim is one of the strongest voices advocating for equity and justice for organizations and individuals." —Aiko Bethea, founder of RARE Coaching & Consulting