As Republicans all across the country discount and disparage the ‘woke’ influence in our everyday lives, let’s consider what some ‘woke’ folks did in the past that affect all of us today.
– Michael Ronquillo on Medium
And, updating Ronquillo’s next statement for today:
There is an old Turkish proverb: “Fear an ignorant man more than a lion.”
Just-announced Republican presidential candidate and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis calls ‘woke’ a “war on the Truth.” And he’s right: it’s a war on his and Republicans’ invented truth.
Republican right-wing politicians have appropriated the term to discredit any attempt at social inclusion, and as a catch-all for any stance on a social issue that they don’t like, from the collapse of banks to military recruitment underperformance to gun laws to mass shootings.
They also like to sell ‘wokeness’ as self-righteousness by Democrats. Really?
To most Americans, ‘wokeness’ is just showing basic respect and dignity to your fellow human beings, and was used in the past by people who supported awareness of social injustice and bigotry.
One voice for that respect and dignity is your local workers union (or what’s left of it), and the Democratic party policies that the Biden Administration and many state governors are pushing for.
But Republicans would rather support greedy corporations instead of organized groups of ‘woke’ workers trying to secure a fair, productive, educated, organized, and regulated work environment.
Here is an idea: ‘anti-woke’ Republicans should give up every benefit and right that they use that Democratic ‘woke’ policies are responsible for.
They should dedicate their lives to making the ‘anti-woke’ corporation more money than the year before, even at the sacrifice of their health and their family. They should give up their breaks for lunch, and the 40-hour work week, and safety in the work place.
Some right-wing Republicans are already doing this. In states controlled by Republicans, ‘anti-woke’ corporations are being allowed and encourage to return to the 19th-century factory model for the workplace:
• work employees 60+ hours a week,
• offer no breaks,
• hire children,
• offer horrid, unsanitary work conditions,
• and pay literally next to nothing.
This is what corporate work environments were like before ‘woke’ policies. If we get rid of ‘woke’ workplace policies/rights/laws tomorrow, corporations will rush right back to the way they were 70 years ago.
For example, the Republican right-wing governors of Maine and Arkansas have signed bills to repeal child labor laws. Texas and Florida have enacted multiple laws that strike down ‘woke’ policies and that punish worker’s speech and assembly rights. In Florida, there is a dystopian Stop W.O.K.E. Act that imposes viewpoint-based restrictions on educators.
So if Republican right-wingers want to take a stand on ‘wokeness,’ they should practice what they preach and give up all of the following ‘woke’ rights:
• All breaks at work, including lunch breaks
• Paid vacation
• Sick leave
• Social Security
• Minimum wage
• Civil Rights Act (prohibits employer discrimination)
• 8-hour workday
• 40 hour work week
• Overtime pay
• Child labor laws
• Workplace safety rules
• Worker’s compensation
• Unemployment insurance
• Employer health insurance
• Collective bargaining rights
• Wrongful termination laws
• Age discrimination act
• Whistleblower protection laws
• Employee Polygraph Protect Act (prohibits employer from using a lie detector test on an employee)
• Veteran’s Employment and Training Services
• Compensation increases and evaluations (raises)
• Sexual harassment laws
• Americans With Disabilities Act
• Holiday pay
• Privacy rights
• Pregnancy and parental leave
• Military leave
• The right to strike
Will Republicans give up all these ‘woke’ policies? Or will they admit that people in the past who stood for justice and fair treatment for everyone — all those ‘woke’ activists — actually made everyone’s lives better?
Let’s be clear: being ‘woke’ means standing up for inclusion, acceptance, fair treatment, and equality under the law. Republicans saying that are ‘anti-woke’ means they are opposed to all those things.
Which side will make your life better? Which side would you rather be on?
Written by John James Alexander, a pseudonym for a long-time Kentucky educator.