Why we should stop telling white people they’re ‘woke’
An unfortunate fact about today’s society is that we really haven’t left behind the days of racism, sexism, classism, homophobia and other “-isms” or “-phobias.” As a way of combating the ignorant and naive mindsets of many white people, they’re being taught about their own privilege. The sheer number of white people that are so oblivious or consciously offensive is so high that those who aren’t are deemed “woke.”
Several weeks ago, I was sitting with my friend, who is black, one evening and was discussing a variety of current events—from the Stockley verdict to the president to influential music. At one point, this friend looked at me and told me how “woke” I was—and nothing has frustrated me more. Why? Because, honestly, I’m not woke. I’m conscious that I was born white in a world where people of color lack the privileges I have. I’m aware of the indecencies, the mistreatment, the abuse, the discrimination and the overall disgusting treatment of non-white human beings by white individuals.
Having the human decency to rebuke those who are cruel doesn’t make me woke. Being educated and aware of the “whos” and the “whys” of current events doesn’t make me woke. My “liberal” opinions don’t make me woke. These factors only contribute to me being a somewhat decent human being.
To be fair, I understand why the use of “woke” is used to affirm white people. I know that it’s a way of telling us that we’re learning and improving to encourage us to keep moving forward. However, it’s counterproductive. White people are the ones who cause the issues in the first place, so we shouldn’t get pats on the back whenever we become aware of the problems we caused. The burden shouldn’t be people of color to tell white people that we as a group are becoming more humane.
Yes, white people should fight inequality. Yes, white people should become allies. Yes, white people should keep listening and keep learning. But no, white people should not act like small children who need rewards for standing up for the rights of others.