To be “woke” has three meanings. One of those is to be awake. For example, “Anna woke in the morning sun.” The other meaning is to be “aware,” and in that awareness, to be politically or socially active. An example use of this is, “It is important to be woke in the fight for justice.” Or, to rephrase it, “It’s important to be aware in the fight for justice.”
The word doesn’t mean whatever Republicans think it means. In fact, I’m not sure they even know what they think it means. I’m embarrassed for them at each instance of them using “woke” as a way to say ”Black” or “Left” which is what they likely want it to mean. It’s another symbol of the social awkwardness that is pervasive throughout the Right.
To say that something is “woke” as a pejorative seems doubly odd because awareness is integral in understanding the world around us, and if one is lacking in awareness of what is fair, respectful, or correct, then what are we left with? The answer here is the modern Republican. The folks who believe that Trump won an election that he numerically could not and did not win. The same folks think that Mitch McConnell is doing a great job at representing Kentucky through his long silent pauses that show his deficits due to illness or, perhaps, agedness more than his political acumen. It’s a weird, upside-down world we live in.
Let’s look at a few examples and replace woke with awareness. Just try this experiment.
Florida governor and “woke” speech enthusiast Ron DeSantis said, “We have made Florida the state where woke goes to die…” He continued, “The woke mind virus represents a war on merit. It represents a war on achievement.”
So what he is saying is that awareness and the state of being politically active dies in Florida and that awareness is a virus. Noted.
Let’s look at another example.
Donald Trump said in a Fox Interview in 2021 that the Biden Administration is “destroying” the country with “woke.”
Okay, so Biden’s administration is destroying this country with “awareness.”
When you take out woke and replace it within the context of awareness, which is what it means, Republicans sound more and more ridiculous, but it is part and parcel of the America they envision — one that sleeps through any and all of the corruption in government and from their party which is allowing a man indicted on many felonies to raise capital from American citizens. It’s wild times.
Wanna play again?
On Kentucky’s Republican candidate for governor Daniel Cameron’s Priorities page, under “Combatting Woke Ideology,” it says, “From fighting radical ESG to protecting our children from life-altering, irreversible surgeries and ensuring that men are kept out of women’s sports, Attorney General Cameron’s message is clear—the woke agenda is not welcome in Kentucky.”
Somehow Cameron has turned awareness into transphobia because for you to be aware of transgender people and their medical needs, or for you to be aware that some children are suffering from gender dysphoria because their gender doesn’t fit with their sex, is somehow a bad thing. Whether you support transgender individuals or not, the knowledge of them is not welcome, according to Cameron. It’s a weird flex.
In a nutshell, Republicans are only saying one thing and it is insidious. When a Republican uses “woke” to argue against something they have little understanding of or don’t want their voting public to understand better, they are simply saying that knowledge is dangerous.
We have, as Americans, been raised with the idea that “knowledge is power,” and the fear in Republican voices is precious as they realize that more and more Americans who are not wealthy, white, or in lockstep with them have the knowledge to subvert and undermine their quest to make an ignorant people unable to understand, therefore unable to fight back against corruption and having their lives become more expensive while their wages stagnate.
Even younger members of their own party are begging them to stop saying it, but they’ve dug in their silly little heels and will die on the hill of “awareness” because they refuse to get woke to the fact that the way they use the word, doesn’t mean what they think it does.
See this week’s “Thorns and Roses” for what might be the nation’s first “woke” garden. It’s gotten that stupid. •