Estimated reading time: 4 minutes
Wokeness! I woke up woke! My survival and existence depend on it.
I have been awakened since the 1980s.
My first recollection of being woke is during my Caribbean History class in high school and learning that Cristoforo Colombo, didn’t discover the Caribbean.
There were native people already living on the islands before his arrival in the West Indies
Over the last couple of years, I have seriously questioned if residing in the USA as a black man is killing me slowly. Gun violence, state brutality via law enforcement, anti wokeness and systemic racism seems to be flavour du jour.
In recent years, there has been a surge of voices condemning what is often called the “war on wokeness.” In an election year, these ill informed voices will only get louder. This critique focuses on progressive social justice movements that seek to raise awareness about systemic discrimination and promote inclusivity. While the debate around these issues is essential for a healthy society, it is crucial to recognise that the fight against wokeness, in essence, opposes the pursuit of empathy, growth, and a more equitable world. In this blog post, I explore why it is essential to embrace wokeness as a vehicle for positive change and societal progress.
Recognising Systemic Injustices
The “war on wokeness” core tenet is often based on the belief that efforts to address discrimination have become excessive and divisive. However, it is crucial to acknowledge that systemic injustices have existed for centuries and continue to affect marginalised communities. By dismissing the conversation on wokeness, we risk disregarding the real issues many individuals face and perpetuating the status quo.
Encouraging Empathy and Understanding
Wokeness fosters empathy and understanding by encouraging individuals to educate themselves about the experiences of others. It prompts us to recognise our privileges and biases, creating a more compassionate and supportive society. Empathy is the foundation for building connections across different communities, fostering a sense of unity and shared humanity.
Wokeness: Promoting Inclusivity and Diversity
Social justice movements – Black Lives Matter, MeToo, Anti-Asian Hate, 1619 Project, Critical Race Theory – are often associated with wokeness and advocate for inclusivity and diversity in all areas of life, including education, employment, and public discourse. Embracing these values enriches our collective experiences, breaking down barriers and allowing everyone to contribute fully to society—inclusivity benefits not only those historically marginalised but society as a whole. According to Heather McGhee’s book Sum of Us, the denial mindset states, “Color blindness has become a powerful weapon against progress for people of colour, but as a denial mindset, it doesn’t do white people any favors, either.”
Nurturing Intellectual Growth
Critics of wokeness argue that it stifles free speech and discourages dissenting opinions. Being thoughtful and aware shouldn’t hinder free speech. It’s a chance for personal and intellectual growth. Engaging in dialogue about social issues, even when uncomfortable, challenges our perspectives and enables all of us to evolve.
Creating a More Equitable Future
Ultimately, the fight against wokeness seeks to resist societal change and maintain the status quo. However, progress often involves discomfort and upheaval. Embrace wokeness for positive change towards a future where everyone’s rights and dignity are upheld, regardless of background.
The “war on wokeness” may appear as a defence of free speech and individual liberties, but in reality, it stifles progress and perpetuates systemic discrimination. By embracing wokeness, we acknowledge the struggles of marginalised communities, encourage empathy, promote inclusivity, and nurture intellectual growth. It is essential to remember that pursuing social justice is not an attack on anyone but a call for a fairer and more compassionate world. Rather than rejecting wokeness, let us engage in constructive dialogue, learn from one another, and work collectively to create a society where equality and empathy prevail.