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The boy who cried “woke”

Wokeness has become conservatives’ umbrella term to delegitimize everything they do not agree with.

Opinion by Asher Miles, Staff Writer

By Milan Rafaelov/Valley Star

“Woke has been distorted beyond its recognition.”

Credit is due, though, to the silent majority and the GOP for the transmogrification of woke. Reminiscent to how “Black Power” was rebranded by conservative masterminds in the 1960’s to scare the Jim Crow ideology into their base, woke is being used to do the same thing.

Woke has come into fashion after being popularized in American vernacular in 2014 after the police killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Initially, “stay woke” were cautionary words from activists of the Black Lives Matter movement that urged people to be aware of police brutality and unjust police tactics.

And yet, in Lee Atwater-like fashion, a cavalcade of conservatives have simultaneously co-opted “woke” into a maligned version of its former self while also not being able to define what it could be.

In a March interview, conservative author and commentator Bethany Mandel practically broke her brain trying to elucidate what “wokeness” is.

“So, I mean, woke is, sort of the idea that, umm … this is going to be one of those moments that go viral,” the author said as she stammered to define the subject of her own book. “It’s sort of the understanding that we must reduce society in order to create hierarchies of oppression. It’s hard to explain in a fifteen second soundbite.”

After being lampooned for her eye-rolling interview, Mandel decided to graciously provide a somewhat comprehensive, yet elusive, definition of wokeness on her Twitter account.

“Wokeness is a radical belief system suggesting that our institutions are built around discrimination, and claiming that all disparity is a result of that discrimination,” read her tweet.

Belief systems such as capitalism, patriarchy and racism are completely stitched and embedded in America’s institutions and result in inequality. In the context of America, there was a massive colonial project built on killing all Native peoples, coupled with unmerciful enslavement of West Africans that then faced an elaborate and detailed legal system pitted against them.

So, when Mandel talks about institutions built around discrimination - she is not talking about a belief called “wokeness,” she is talking about history.

The inundation of the American people by the wet blanket of wokeness is the conservatives’ ultimate scapegoat. The deluge of “wokeness” by the right allows them to obfuscate from concrete socioeconomic American problems.

Boycotts from Nike to Bud Light have emboldened American conservatives to perform their favorite song and dance. The redneck ritual of burning or shooting “stained symbol” has been underway for weeks after transwoman Dylan Mulvany received a blue-emblazoned beer with her face on it.

Kid Rock can shoot all the Bud Light cans he wants, though. The Anheuser-Busch stock is still up 9.1 percent for this year.

If conservatives spoke about how corporations cynically utilize progressive movements to enrich themselves and uphold an economic system that fundamentally oppresses those marginalized communities, then they would be correct.

Most Americans do not care if a trans woman received a beer can with her face on it, or if Nike actually donates to low-income minority neighborhoods. And neither do conservatives. By creating senseless commotion over trivial things, they can fill their airtime with frivolous chit chat instead addressing America's problems.

Next time someone reiterates to you that “wokeness has overrun America,” ask them to define “woke”. Watch as the gish gallop scallop enunciates something nonsensical. Then, hit them with the “Sure Jan.” It works every time.


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