Waking up to Wokeness
By Mark Schwendau
The term woke is bigger today in our modern day society than it has ever been and yet many people do not understand its meaning. At one time the word “woke” was simply the past participle of “wake”. Surprisingly the modern day definition of the word “woke” isn’t that new in the US.
- Saunders Redding recorded an African American United Mine Worker official in 1940, stating: “Let me tell you buddy. Waking up is a damn sight harder than going to sleep, but we’ll stay woke up longer.”
Back in 1962 the New York Times published an article of “phrases and words you might hear today in Harlem”, the northern section of the New York City. The African-American novelist William Melvin Kelley was the first to coin the phrase when he wrote the earliest known use of the new definition of the word in an article titled, “If you’re woke, you dig it”. In other words, to be “woke” means to be aware.
But to be aware of what, exactly?
“Woke” was added into the Oxford English Dictionary as an adjective in June of 2017. That dictionary defines “woke” as “originally: well-informed, up-to-date. Now chiefly: alert to racial or social discrimination and injustice”.
In other words, it means to be aware of sensitive social issues, such as racism.
So racism has always been at the center of this expression. In other words, to be woke means you are aware and understanding of the plight of minorities in America. People were not really aware of this urban slang term and its meaning but when they found out about it, they were okay with it and accepted it.
Then along comes LGBTQ personalities to pile on and accept the term as a “social issue” relative to gender identity, gender reassignment and the like. As the news source Al Jazeera points out in one of their opinion articles las year “Why ‘woke’ became toxic”; “The term ‘woke’ has become so divisive that it is harming support for the issues it is meant to be highlighting.”
While blaming LGBTQ for poisoning the woke well, so to speak, might be off base to some, nobody can argue with the fact that more people accept different races than they accept the agenda of sexual deviants (people who opt to deviate from traditional heterosexuality). Put another way, people of religious faith have always been taught to love one another regardless of skin colors. However, those same people have also been taught sexual sin is one of the gravest of sins to God.
Disney Corporation recently brought this scenario to the forefront when they crossed Florida Governor Ron DeSantis over teachings related to sexual orientation and gender identity specifically in Florida kindergarten through third grade classes. Disney and the LGTBQ community tried to then build support for teaching such things as “gender identity” and “trans rights” by labeling the Governor’s law prohibiting primary grade school children form sexual indoctrination (largely without parental knowledge) as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. The DeSantis bill never mentions the word gay anywhere in it making those pushing back against DeSantis and Florida parents look like liars and/or propagandists.
Governor DeSantis was quoted as having warned the Disney Corporation, “I thought it was a mistake for Disney to get involved and I told them, ‘You shouldn’t get involved it’s not going to work out well for you.'” DeSantis offered this in an interview with conservative commentator Dave Rubin released online to subscribers of The Rubin Report.
Governor DeSantis then made good on his warning against Disney, signing another bill into law in April to dissolve the company of its self-governing status after Disney executives said they would work to repeal the DeSantis legislation known as the Parental Rights in Education Act of Florida.
So the one thing journalist Johnny Luk of Al Jazeera was very correct about in his opinion article of a year ago was the introduction of sexual identities and sexuality into the word “woke” has become divisive. In a move many would regard as bad business and marketing, some major American corporations decided to pick sides and declare themselves “woke”.
Pretty soon conservatives on the right wanted to know who these woke corporations were siding with the left so they could boycott them and direct their money elsewhere. Mark Levin urged Americans to boycott ‘woke’ businesses. Websites such as the following came to be to offer them assistance in this effort:
Of course two companies to immediately become targets were a jeans company who featured transsexuals dancing around celebrating as well as a drug company that was promoting a drug to keep HIV in check and concluded with two men kissing.
But, as one might imagine, things soon went from just race and sexual orientation to a whole host of other causes that seemingly pit liberals and conservatives against each other such as the “NEBRASKA TAXPAYERS FOR FREEDOM WORKSHEET: CONSERVATIVES SHOULD BOYCOTT THE FOLLOWING COMPANIES AND PERSONALITIES:”
This list opens with suggesting boycotting Adele because “this singer urged fans to not vote for Trump”.
Other websites promoted boycotting any company that opposed President Trump and his call for election integrity.
All and all, for the average American, this wokeness and understanding who to patronize and who to shun gets very confusing very quickly for people one either side of the fence.
Whether you liked President Trump or not, the one thing everybody should have liked about him was his promotion of “America First” and “nationalism”. Nationalism brings the country together where it increasingly seems organizations such as BLM and LGTBQ – etc. seek to divide the country apart. If an objective study was ever done, it seems Democrats are divisive more so than Republicans. Democrats are even fighting amongst themselves about how far left their party should lean.
I think everybody reading this on the left and right would all agree we should remain aware and sensitive to the plights of our fellow American brothers and sisters. I think many of those would agree corporate America should remain neutral on causes that get hijacked along the way. Wokeism is such a cause.
Conservative people of faith are still the majority of this country whether they attend weekly worship services or not. If they are not respected for the numbers they are, corporations going woke could lead to them going broke.
United we stand, divided we fall.
Copyright © 2022 by Mark S. Schwendau
Mark S. Schwendau is a retired technology professor who has always had a sideline in news-editorial writing where his byline has been, “Bringing little known news to people who simply want to know the truth.” He classifies himself as a Christian conservative who God cast to be a realist. Mark is an award-winning educator who has published 7 books and numerous peer-reviewed trade journal articles some of which can be found on the Internet. His father was a fireman/paramedic while his mother was a registered nurse. He holds multiple degrees in technology education, industrial management, OSHA Safety, and Driver’s Education. His personal website is www.IDrawIWrite.Tech.