In 1998, I experienced my “woke moment.” On a 5-hour flight between Toronto and Bridgetown, I found myself stuck on a plane with no in-flight movie and a dead Sony Walkman in my backpack. I was forced to resort to picking up a book and reading.

My grandma handed me two books to read, Alex Haley’s Roots and The Autobiography of Malcolm X. Over the course of that summer, I not only read those books front to back, but I sought out many other books on Black history and liberation. As I entered high school, my eyes felt open in a way they’d never been before. Hell, it even affected how I chose my Black Planet name, but we’ll get to that later.

As we quickly approach the two year anniversary of the Ferguson uprising and the three year anniversary of the birth of the Black Lives Matter movement, it’s more than fair to say that we are in a new era of unapologetic Black consciousness. While many have been fully cognizant of society’s rampant anti-Blackness for far longer than just a few years, it feels like we are in the midst of a revolutionary social awareness unlike anything we’ve seen since the Civil Rights movement. A whole lot of folks are becoming and celebrating being ‘woke.

To become fully aware of systemic injustices and how it effectively influences almost every aspect of our lives, is to recognize how it impacts everything from how we dress, to what we read, to what we watch and to whom we give our votes to. With this being such a huge part of our lives, it’s obvious that we would want our “wokeness” to be apart of who and how we choose to love as well. Many of us are looking for life partners, and if they’re on some #AllLivesMatter ish while we’re on our #ByAnyMeansNecessary tip, that will have an adverse effect on any future union.

Once I became “woke,” I found myself becoming attracted to “woke” women and substantially less attracted to women with no understanding of white supremacy. It’s not easy to find your Bell, Betty or Coretta when most of the girls around you are too busy lusting after Jonathan Taylor Thomas. But, after leaving that particular high school and meeting many smart, strong and beautiful Black women, I realized something I had never taken into account before. There are levels to being “woke.” And, after having many in-depth conversations with these sisters and some of my boys, I realized that there’s such a thing as trying to be “too woke” and that’s called being a hotep. And the first step in dating while “woke,” is scanning the scene for any sign of hotep life and avoiding them at all costs.

See, the problem with hoteppers is that they think they’re “woke,” but many are just sleepwalkers – people acting like they’re fully awake, but truly locked in a state of deep unconsciousness. Hoteppers aren’t for the safety and security of the Black community; they’re for Black men. The best quote I ever heard about the hotep cult is that they’re not resentful of white supremacy, they’re jealous of it.

Hotep logic propagates the Black woman as being singularly responsible for the plight of her sons and daughters without addressing the role of absent or horrible fathers. Hotep logic is homophobic, transphobic and completely ignorant of intersectionality. Hotep logic places Black women in a binary where they are either, “Queens of the Earth” or “Insta-twerking-Beyonce´-loving hoes,” which is nothing more than restrictive misogynoir.

And, believe it or not, all hoteps aren’t male. I know a lot about hotep sisters because I’ve dated them. And I know a good amount about these dudes, because I was once one of them.

Around 1999 when I was just getting into the swing of my pro-Blackness, I found myself searching for a good Black Planet handle and I landed on Israel_Saleem. First, I know now that it was a ridiculous combination of names from two different faiths and two separate regions of the world. But I was determined to shed my slave name, and I had to choose a moniker before one of my sister’s friends called our home phone and knocked our 56K modem offline. And don’t act like your first BP name was all that lit either.

Before I knew it, I found myself spewing nonsense in the chat rooms about “Black-on-Black” crime, why women needed to stop looking like “sluts” and start dressing more like Queen Aoleon and why enacting segregation is the only way to effectively overcome white supremacy. And I started hanging around women who felt just like that too. The type of women who fervently believed BS like this:

Luckily for me, I went to college and met a ton of smart and patient folks who effectively de-programmed me away from that narrow hate-speech into becoming a real student of history and society’s collective suffering at the hands of racist, sexist and xenophobic bigots. I was afforded the opportunity to learn and become a better friend, a better lover and a better man.

Look, it’s not easy to date while “woke,” because just finding someone with an equal level of interest in social justice is already difficult in and of itself. But  “woke” Black women specifically deserve better than faux-intellectuals masking anti-Black-woman rhetoric cloaked in Black nationalism.


It’s funny how hoteps are the first to call a woman “Queen,” yet the first to treat her like a concubine.