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RALEIGH – Is there any topic more fraught right now, more controversial right now, than the topic of “wokeness”? Or the terms “woke” and “anti-woke”? We also hear things like “woke mob”, “the woke mind virus”, “woke ideology”, “the woke agenda”, and so on. These terms come up constantly in news stories. Governments at the federal, state, and local levels seem to be discussing wokeness all the time.
If you want to understand the passion, watch this video clip where we see Ron DeSantis speaking about wokeness from his perspective: https://youtu.be/5HeOY1hjh3A?t=48
In the clip DeSantis says:
“And we reject woke ideology. We fight the woke in the legislature. We fight the woke in the schools. We fight the woke in the corporations. We will never ever surrender to the woke mob. Florida is where woke goes to die.”
That is a lot of passion. The funny thing is, many people aren’t even sure what the term “woke” means. So it begs the question of each of us: “Am I woke or anti-woke? Where do I stand on wokeness, and why?”
I think the easiest way to answer these questions is to describe the steps that one might pursue in order to become woke. Regardless of someone’s background, if a person (or company for that matter) wanted to become woke, what steps would they take?
Step 1 – Look up the definition of woke in the dictionary
An obvious first stop on the path to wokeness would be a quick search in the dictionary to see what the term “woke” means. The [Cambridge Disctionary]( https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/woke ) defines woke like this:
“aware, especially of social problems such as racism and inequality”
The [Merriam-Webster Dictionary]( https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/woke ) is similar:
“aware of and actively attentive to important societal facts and issues (especially issues of racial and social justice)”
There doesn’t seem to be anything difficult to understand here. Becoming woke should be fairly simple. Since both definitions talk about race, let’s start there.
Step 2 – Don’t be a racist
If someone is going to become woke, they can’t be a racist. Google’s dictionary defines racism in this way:
“prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism by an individual, community, or institution against a person or people on the basis of their membership in a particular racial or ethnic group, typically one that is a minority or marginalized.”
Racism is most frequently tied to skin color in the United States. Therefore, racism is one of those things that seems impossible to believe in a modern society. Let’s imagine that there are two people standing together, one with skin color A and another with skin color B. What possible difference do A and B make? Both people are human beings. Thus, they should be treated equally by the legal system, by the medical system, by the political system, by the employment system, by the real estate system, and so on.
Treating people equally seems so simple. It requires no effort. All it requires is for someone to look at every human being as a human being.
The “antagonism” part in the definition is especially difficult to understand. Imagine that a person with skin color C comes up to another person with skin color D in public and begins berating them, insulting them, harassing them, etc. because of their skin color. Why do this? What purpose does it serve except to degrade our society as a whole and make people miserable?
A woke person’s philosophy is, “Let’s let everyone live their life free of racism. Everyone in our society should be treated equally and fairly, regardless of their race.”
Closely related to racism is xenophobia, defined as “dislike of or prejudice against people from other countries.” The reason why these two terms are closely related is because ofttimes people from other countries have different skin colors. In the same way that a woke person avoids racism, a woke person avoids xenophobia as well.
Step 3 – Don’t be sexist or misogynistic
Discrimination against women and antagonism toward women are as impossible to understand as racism. Both men and women are human beings, and therefore they should be treated equally by the legal system, by the medical system, by the political system, by the employment system, by the real estate system, and so on.
Step 4 – Don’t be homophobic
Homophobia is defined as “dislike of or prejudice against gay people.” Like racism and sexism, homophobia seems impossible to understand for a woke person. If two men are attracted to each other, want to commit to each other, want to live with each other, and/or want to get married, what possible difference does it make to anyone else? What impact does it have on anyone else? The same is true if two women want to commit to each other – what difference does it make?
A woke person’s philosophy is if two consenting adults want to date each other or live together, it has zero effect on anyone else. Therefore, what possible reason does anyone else have to care about it? Or to dislike it? Or to hate it? Hatred takes a lot of energy – why waste the energy hating other people for no reason?
Transphobia falls into the same category as homophobia for a woke person.
Step 5 – Don’t be an ableist
Ableism is defined as “discrimination in favor of able-bodied people.” A woke person asks: Why would anyone want to discriminate against a blind person, or a person using a wheelchair? It seems impossible to believe. A person using a wheelchair is a human being, same as anyone else.
The Americans with Disabilities Act – https://www.ada.gov/ – is an amazing thing. It is common sense that people with disabilities deserve to be treated equally. It is similar to the civil rights act, which is described in Wikipedia as:
“a landmark civil rights and labor law in the United States that outlaws discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin. It prohibits unequal application of voter registration requirements, racial segregation in schools and public accommodations, and employment discrimination. The act ‘remains one of the most significant legislative achievements in American history’.”
Recap of Steps 1 through 5
Think back through the history of the United States:
- There was once a time in the United States when slavery was legal. Today we see slavery as an abomination. Slavery was outlawed in 1865 with the ratification of the 13th
- There was once a time in the United States when women could not vote. The first state that allowed women to vote was Wyoming in 1869. The 19th amendment to the constitution, ratified in 1920, granted all women in the right to vote.
- There was once a time in the United States when segregation based on race was legal. This practice was outlawed in 1964 with the passage of the civil rights act.
- There was once a time in the United States when same-sex marriage was illegal. This changed in 2015 because of a supreme court ruling.
- And so on…
It seems impossible to believe that slavery or segregation were once legal, or that women were once denied the ability to vote. But we made progress as a society and righted these wrongs. Woke people celebrate and embrace all this progress because treating people fairly and equally is the right thing to do. It is also completely obvious that a fair and equitable society should work this way.
Step 6 – Other things that woke people are aware of
A person who is woke is also aware of societal issues that affect us all and degrade our society. Some of the most important issues include things like:
- Climate Change – the need to stop burning fossil fuels and fix the climate catastrophe is apparent to any thoughtful person, as described here: https://wraltechwire.com/2023/03/10/doomsday-or-fossil-fuels-mankind-has-a-choice-to-make-says-author-marshall-brain/
- Voting fairness – There are a variety of roadblocks that affect elections in the United States, from gerrymandering to voter suppression.
- Gun control – Any aware person in the United States can see all the death, misery and destruction caused by guns in schools and other public places. See this article for details: https://wraltechwire.com/2022/06/10/guns-doomsday-how-can-we-reduce-mass-shootings-and-deaths/
- Health Care – The United States is the only developed country that does not have universal healthcare, and this causes myriad problems as well as a huge economic burden. This article points out that “Health care spending in the US is nearly double that of other wealthy nations. People in the U.S. were also more likely to have chronic conditions and visited their doctors less frequently.” https://thehill.com/changing-america/well-being/prevention-cures/3836252-health-care-spending-in-the-us-nearly-double-of-other-wealthy-nations-report/
- Economic Inequality – Inequality in the United States is hollowing out the middle class and bringing all of us in the lower economic tiers closer to poverty. This classic video helps to explain what is happening: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QPKKQnijnsM
A woke person imagines changing our society and fixing these problems and many others, with the goal of making our society better and fairer for everyone.
If you review and think about what we have discussed here, a woke person is a thoughtful, decent human being who aligns with the principles of human rights and human dignity. A woke person stands against things like racism, sexism, misogyny, homophobia, and ablism. A woke person also works to fix problems like climate change, voter suppression, gerrymandering, gun violence, healthcare costs, and economic inequality.
Human decency is something that helps everyone and is a vital part of a functional society. Therefore, wokeness benefits us all, while anti-wokeness is tearing things down.
Now you can decide for yourself: do you want to be woke or anti-woke?
- https://youtu.be/5HeOY1hjh3A?t=48 – ‘Florida is where woke goes to die’: Republican Ron DeSantis re-elected as governor
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QPKKQnijnsM – Wealth Inequality in America