In this age of poor grammar, is doesn’t surprise me that those supposedly “in the know” or those who believe to have had their “consciousness raised,” would misuse the origin of a word to convey “awareness.” This folly is just a beautiful entry way into the fallacy that is being “woke” or believing any individual, regardless of background, could achieve some all encompassing anti-prejudice nirvana…for like ever ever.
Woke, after all, in proper use, is a past tense verb. It means you became awake after sleep. If social justice warriors really wanted to convince me of anything, they’d start by taking a few grammar lessons so they make sense. Anyone who says to me “hey are you woke?” would likely loose my respect because I’d have to correct them and say, “clearly I’m awake because I’m standing here.” And then the person would have to explain they were being metaphorical and then I’d have to explain that even metaphors would benefit from proper verb usage. And then the whole point of the stupid question, ie. “do I know what’s really going on and are therefore wiped clean of all prejudice?” would be lost because then I’d probably have to explain what a verb is to some poor Common Core educated Millennial.
Awareness of course means one doesn’t live in denial. To be aware means to see what’s going on, be able to interpret it, and find a solution to understand and process the information. Being aware is about taking in the deep and irrecoverable truths of life and finding ways to live with those truths. Awareness sometimes is resigning oneself to their fate, and other times, it is in fact speaking out.
In a way awareness is like a plate of nachos. There are layers and just because you’ve tasted some sour cream and guacamole, doesn’t mean the ground beef was seasoned properly. In other words, when we are young adults (or older because we were too busy in youth doing what we did to be “woke” then) we see certain layers of injustice, get upset about them, and eventually learn there are other layers of injustice so mind boggling that no single ideology will ever “save the world”. We mature into the understanding that we’ll never understand all there is to understand or correctly perceive the truth of every situation. We learn our thinking is limited. And then we learn our thinking has been limited. And then we get to the business of thinking for ourselves.
How does this happen? Well, time for one thing, is really a master teacher. That which we think we see in one way today, may be seen quite differently later on. Example:
Mike Pence and his wife have what I feel is a very smart marriage policy and one would say my wife and I are quite Pencian in terms of socialization and gendered differences. Years ago though, I assumed all people should be able to be alone together (without spouses) regardless of commitments at home, because that was the “enlightened” post-gender thing to do. I assumed that people can just will their way into “acting right” regardless of other potentialities, because, you know, if you think it- it will be.
Nope. I don’t go to dinner with butch lesbians or men without my wife. And she doesn’t have dinner with femmes or unmarried ladies. I know how attractive my wife is, and I have a feeling she feels like-wise about me. Who we are alone with is about valuing each other and respecting boundaries. By being aware of – or not in denial of – each other’s attractiveness, our boundaries keep the potential for jealousy at bay. Easy peasy! And the whole line about how men keep women from climbing the ladder because they won’t have private dinner meetings is just silly. Conference rooms were made for a reason.
Here’s a more pertinent example:
Pepsi pulled an ad from circulation this week because “activists” decried it saying that the short film mocked the “real” protest movement. Talk about asleep! Why wouldn’t a multinational like Pepsi cash in on a supposed cultural shift? Is protesting today such a sacred cow that a company must prove itself to represent said cause. Why is Ford, who has anti-Semitism in the company’s history, and is notorious for playing both sides in the eco-industry, a silent angel? While Pepsi, a company that basically peddles diabetes in slow form to the population, is a pariah for paying about as much attention, as those who use the term “woke” in their music yet star in a video that depicts their naked body covered in faux semen (yes Erykah Badu, we remember your Flaming Lips video in 2012) and then complains of being used?
My favorite “woke” moment in all this is when those in the LGBTQI+&%$#@! movement started retweeting Bernice King’s tweet about Pepsi supposedly mocking her dad’s legacy. Umm hello she’s not a fan of gays and has said:
“I know deep down in my sanctified soul that he [Martin Luther King, Jr.] did not take a bullet for same-sex unions.” -Bernice King
Which may or may not be true and I don’t actually care. The point is even Dr. Martin Luther King’s daughter can’t help but twist her father’s legacy into fodder for another cause. So why should Pepsi be any different?
Instead of being #woke let be actually aware. Let’s get off the computer, leave the smart phone at home, go outside and take a deep breath and a good look around us. That guy in line behind you at Starbucks, (if that’s not “woke” enough, wherever you get your local artisan free trade soy café au liat) you know the guy who let you go first even though he got there 2 seconds before you, may have…gasp…voted for Trump. Know he is a person who may actually know more than you. Know that even if he didn’t vote according to his “wokeness” he may have voted according to his own awakened moral standards. And if you claim to want unity, peace, tolerance, and love, you’re going to have to start being out in the world and aware of others and their own versions of being “woke.” In 20 years you’ll possibly have the same version of “woke” the Trump voter has now and maybe he had the same “woke” you did years ago.
Being aware is holding ourselves accountable before pointing fingers at others. Social justice is being aware that everyone has limits and loving them even when it’s painful or when we disagree. Prejudice is not seeing beyond one’s own point of view until their ideology becomes too detrimental personally and socially. Prejudice against President Trump, Mike Pence, Pepsi, Bernice King or anyone else will not cure prejudice. As Maya Binyam said regarding the Woke Olympics:
When vigilance becomes a game, the dangers posed by injustice begin to feel arbitrary. The Woke Olympics, in turn, operates both as sport and false consciousness, championed by the faulty belief that eradication is the natural result of recognizing hate’s existence. If hate is affective, it’s bound to leave its imprint where we’re least likely to detect it. We’d be best served by attuning to hate’s residue: not the bodies in which it is presumed to reside, but the individuals and communities whom it continues to haunt.
Hate circulates in unpredictable ways, often entangling those who try to name it.
Claiming “wokeness” is just a brightly decorated shadow of denial. Pretending to understand hate and attempt by force to make it disappear ultimately leaves the door open to authoritarian control. This is what fascism actually begins to look like when a phrase, ideology, or yes, prejudice begins to become a brown shirt. If a couple wants to conduct their marriage as they wish, behind closed doors, in a way that denigrates no one, they are supposedly offensive and should do X, Y, or Z instead. Who do we think we are to tell grown law abiding citizens how to be married? Why is it our business? Why do we believe we understand their situation fully? Why should we try to control their lives? Oh yeah…because we’re woke. Or are we?