The trouble with ‘woke’

Feb 13, 2021 by

by Andrew Doyle, spiked:

Any attempt to define or criticise this movement is dismissed as a ‘right-wing slur’.

Where there are no shared definitions there can be no possibility of discussion. Such is the dilemma that liberal-minded people face when attempting to reason with those who insist on continually revising the meaning of words. When most of us say ‘social justice’, we mean the concept of equality under the law, opposition to prejudice and discrimination, and equal opportunities for all. When ‘social-justice activists’ say ‘social justice’, they mean an emphasis on group identity over the rights of the individual, a rejection of social liberalism, and the assumption that unequal outcomes are always evidence of structural inequalities. When most of us say that we are ‘anti-racist’, we mean that we are opposed to racism. When ‘anti-racists’ say they are ‘anti-racist’, they mean they are in favour of a rehabilitated form of racism that makes judgements about people first and foremost on the basis of skin colour and the unsubstantiated supposition that our entire society and all human interactions are undergirded by white supremacy. No wonder everyone is confused.

No word seems to generate more conversations at cross purposes than ‘woke’, whose definition varies depending on who is using it at any given time. For the various black civil-rights activists of the 20th century it signified an alertness to injustice, particularly racism. This usage became popularised by the singer Erykah Badu in her 2008 song ‘Master Teacher (Stay Woke)’, and was taken up by the Black Lives Matter movement in 2013. Soon after, the term was co-opted by practitioners of the new ‘social justice’ ideology, and for a few years was a popular form of self-identification. We became accustomed to headlines in the Guardian such as ‘Can a woke makeover win Barbie and Monopoly new fans?’ and ‘My search for Mr Woke: a dating diary’. In the US, articles such as ‘keeping your classroom woke’, ‘becoming woke in the wake of “Me Too”’ and ‘the woke black person’s guide to talking about oppression with family’ became commonplace.

Read here

See also:

Why NO ONE is safe from the woke warriors trying to stamp out free speechby Sue Reid, Mailonline

Why is the Church so woke? by Giles Fraser, UnHerd

LGBT+ History Month: A message from the Archbishopsfrom the Archbishop of Canterbury website:


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