That’s part of it, but it’s not all of it. Stay woke just means pay attention to everything, don’t lean on your own understanding or anyone else’s, observe, evolve, eliminate things that no longer evolve. That’s what it means. Stay conscious, stay awake. It doesn’t mean judge others. It doesn’t mean gang up on somebody who you feel is not woke. That’s not evolved.

So, when people accuse you of not being woke, do you feel like it’s a misapplication?

I think it’s some kids saying those things. And I’m compassionate about it. I understand because we go through that phase. Those are phases of wokeness, where you are judgmental and you’re strong in your opinion, and you’re learning this new information, and all that’s a part of building your character. As you grow more and more, you begin to eliminate the need to judge others and to crucify others and to compete, to have a word debate. You lose those interests as you grow. It’s natural. [These people] are doing exactly what they’re supposed to be doing right now.

Hmm.

Yeah. I encourage it, argue, debate, communicate even if it’s disagreeing with me, do it, that’s what they’re supposed to be doing.

It is interesting that your response would be empathy. I think it relates to your recent R. Kelly comments, because you’ve said similar things in the past about other divisive or despised figures. Last year, you were trying to find nuance or compassion for Hitler and Louis Farrakhan. I wondered if you could help me understand where that impulse comes from.

You know what, I wrote something about that because I didn’t want to stumble through it and be misunderstood.

[She reads from a long statement, excerpted here.]

O.K. Here I go: Expressing unconditional love for both victim and accused should not be misconstrued with downplaying the fact that [the victim has] been horribly violated. Nor should it be mistaken for the intent to put the accused on a pedestal or to condone their actions. For me, life requires critical thinking on a subject. Critical thinking may lead to logical solutions, but it’s a delicate process because we are all very delicate. Proper healing is the key. It takes the entire community. This mending takes practice because it’s difficult to not always be led emotionally and impulsively. Sometimes, it takes those not very close to the situation to objectively consider all factors. Restorative justice involves finding a solution that not only helps the innocent victims cope with the trauma but to also help the violator, who in many cases, has been the victim of abuse and holds them accountable and is a huge part of recovery. This thinking may help to break the cycle of abuse and ultimately help to heal the community. That’s the goal.