Being Woke Is A Good Thing

We should all be a little more “woke”

Sree Sreenivasan is a leading expert on how technology is changing our lives. He is a professor of Digital Innovation and CEO of Digimentors.
Liberal Opinion

Sree Sreenivasan

Digital Innovation Prof, Stony Brook; CoFounder, Digimentors
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To conservatives, there is no four-letter word more vile or offensive than “woke”. The mere mention of it agitates right-wing media to the point where they will waste a good portion of their on-air time ranting against the “Radical Left” and its “woke” agenda. Black Lives Matter and all-gender bathrooms are just two of the most popular targets for the anti-woke diatribes you hear from commentators on the right.

Former President Trump claimed “woke ideology” is one reason he launched his new social media venture, which doesn’t exactly sound like the most fundamentally sound business reason to create a company, but we digress. My point is, being “woke” shouldn’t be vilified; it should be encouraged, especially in politics.

At its core, being “woke” is simply about showing courtesy and respect to those around you. No matter what political ideology you align with, we can all agree that both those aspects are missing from present-day politics. But think about the discussion about gender identity and pronouns, one of the “wokest” topics out there.

In the end, if you meet someone — whether casually, for work, wherever and however — is it really such an ask, such a huge burden, to simply acknowledge that they think of themselves in a way that they want others to just…accept? Using “they” instead of “she” isn’t exactly painting the Sistine Chapel, or even ending the filibuster in the Senate for that matter. It’s just acknowledging this other person’s autonomy over themselves and their identity. 

Is it really such a bother, such an inconvenience to recognize and respect how a person views themselves and prefers to be identified? This is why I laugh when people say “woke” as if it’s a bad thing.

It’s not. In fact, we would all benefit from being more “woke”.

Hi, I’m Sree Sreenivasan, and I talk about politics, technology, and more. Today, I want to talk about “Woke-ism” and why we could use a little more of it. 

Being “woke” is a cardinal sin in modern right wing politics. 

People putting their genders in their Twitter profiles? Woke. 

Having non-gendered bathrooms in a restaurant? Woke-ism run amok. 

The Black Lives Matter movement? Woke-ism incarnate. 

And, if you mix in so-called “cancel culture” — then you’ve summed up the political left. 

Nothing could be further from the truth. Being “woke” is a good thing, it’s a major step forward, and we should do more to promote woke politics. 

Of course, taken to extremes, over-wokeness becomes performative and often counter-productive. But, I’m not here to talk about the extremes. I think your average person trying to be more accommodating to others is progress, and a great basis for respect. 

Now, basic facts are somehow political, even though they remain exactly the same — they are facts. 

It’s a fact that black men are treated much much worse by the police than any other demographic group. Somehow, 40% of the country sees that fact as a “woke, leftist position” — and this certainly isn’t the only example. 

Saying that Confederate statues – mostly put up decades after the Civil War by the LOSING side – have no place in modern America is a woke position. You know what Germany did with the losers of their war? They certainly didn’t build a single statue to a Nazi. 

Also woke: Saying that we should call people by the names and terms they want.

In the end, if you meet someone — whether casually, for work, wherever and however — is it really such an ask, such a huge burden, to simply acknowledge that they think of themselves in a way that they want others to just…accept? Using “they” instead of “she” isn’t exactly painting the Sistine Chapel, or even ending the filibuster in the Senate for that matter. It’s just acknowledging this other person’s autonomy over themselves and their identity. 

If being more inclusive means being woke, count me in. 

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