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Does "Anti-Wokeness" Resonate?
In our bifurcated bubble-induced political ecosystems, trends can pop up, escalate, and reverberate with such ferocity that those who are exposed to them see them everywhere. But it is unclear how much they escape the echo chambers to permeate society at large.
These thoughts come to mind around a term that has become so ubiquitous in right-wing political and media circles it might as well have its own show on Fox News. The term is “woke,” and we wrote about it at length here on Steady back in August under the headline “Blowing the ‘Anti-Woke’ Dog Whistle.”
As we contextualized back then, “woke” originated in African American English to mean an “awareness of racial and social justice.” But it has since been appropriated by the political right as a cudgel to attack any reckoning around the injustices and inequalities of American history and society. These “anti-woke” crusaders love saying the word with the winks, sneers, and glee that their political ilk had once reserved for railing against “political correctness.”
If you happen upon a Republican campaign rally, “woke” probably competes with words like “the” and “a” for total number of utterances. And there is no level of shame in how low pandering politicians will stoop in warning of the purported dangers of “wokeness.” Nikki Haley, the supposedly sober-minded and serious Republican presidential candidate, recently said “wokeness is a virus more dangerous than any pandemic.” Remind us again how many people have died from wokeness as compared to COVID?
It is clear that those marinating in the toxic soup of reactionary politics are fluent in the “anti-woke” lexicon, just as they are fluent in Hunter Biden and the numerous conspiracy theories surrounding the previous president. But what about America more generally?
Is “woke” something that people are talking about on the sidelines of their children’s soccer games, in the checkout line at the supermarket, or in phone calls with family and friends? Even if people have heard about “wokeness,” do they have a clear idea of what they think it means?
We imagine that those of you who are regular consumers of the news have come across the “anti-woke” diatribes. But even there, how pervasive has coverage of it become beyond right-wing media? Is it covered as a trend or as a concept worthy itself of debate? Is it covered in the national news sources you use? What about the local ones? Is it something that comes up in discussion in your social or professional circles?
Consider us legitimately curious. We would love to read your thoughts in the comments section below.
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