Conservatives hate wokeness. Don’t trigger them by asking what it means | Arwa Mahdawi

Tired of hearing conservatives go on and on about “wokeness”? Me too. So I have a cunning plan: let’s establish a moratorium on people throwing around the word “woke”, one of the most used and abused terms in recent memory, until we have all agreed on a precise definition of it.

Before the right co-opted the term and used it to describe everything from BlackRock to Disney World, “woke” had an actual meaning. The term comes from African American Vernacular English and, originally, was broadly defined as being “alert to racial prejudice and discrimination”. Americans who aren’t suffering from Fox News-induced brain worms still understand that to be its meaning. According to a recent USA Today/Ipsos Poll, 56% of Americans surveyed say they think that being woke means “to be informed, educated on, and aware of social injustices”. Thirty-nine per cent of people surveyed (and 56% of people who identified as Republican), meanwhile, said it meant “to be overly politically correct and police others’ words”.

Do prominent conservatives – the people bandying around the world nonstop – agree with that definition? Let’s check in with the conservative commentator and proud bastion of anti-wokeness Bethany Mandel, shall we? On Tuesday, Mandel appeared on the Hill’s morning program Rising, where she proceeded to repeat “wokeness” ad nauseam as she asserted that most Americans aren’t liberal and “probably fewer of them consider themselves to be woke”. The program’s co-host Briahna Joy Gray stepped in at that point to ask Mandel to clarify what she meant. “Would you mind defining woke? Because it’s come up a couple of times. I just want to make sure we’re on the same page.”

Being asked to define the words that she was using seemed to come as something of as a shock to Mandel. “So, I mean, woke is sort of the idea that … um …” she replied before trailing off and pausing for an awkwardly long time. “I – this is going to be one of those moments that goes viral.” She was certainly right about that: the clip of her torturously trying to explain wokeness, which she says she devoted an entire chapter of her new book to, has been viewed millions of time and sparked a lot of headlines.

Share With Your Friends!

Leave a Comment

Share to...