Hell yes I’m woke. Why aren’t you? Skip to content

Hell yes I’m woke. Why aren’t you?

It’s time to be explicit about what “woke” means – and why we’re woke and proud of it.

2 min read

I’m getting really tired of this wink-and-a-nod use of the word “woke” by far-right politicians, pundits, and demagogues.

They use it as a code word, a way to say the quiet part out loud without actually saying it, to wrap all their bigotry and homophobia and anger into a single, symbolic term.

I think it’s time to call them out on it – to point out what they are actually saying that they stand for.

And to do that, I’m not going to avoid the word; I’m going to claim it, and wave it around, and put it right out there.

Get it straight, all you right-wing pin-heads: I’m woke, and proud of it.

And if we all know what “woke” really stands for, the next question is: Why aren’t you?

Let’s be clear about what “being woke” really means, what it actually stands for. And as I lay this out, remember: by saying they are fighting “wokeness,” those right-wingers are saying they are against these things.

“Being woke” means:

  • Being awake to racism, sexism, homophobia, injustice, and inequity
  • Seeing where there is still prejudice and discrimination, and being willing to name it and fight it
  • Being willing to acknowledge our entire history as a nation – the heroic and the hateful, the inspirational and the aspirational, as well as the shameful and terrible
  • Accepting all other persons as fellow human beings, including LGBTQ, immigrants, the poor, and the powerless
  • Accepting the fact that gender dysphoria is a real conditiion, and that denying gender-affirming care is cruel and inhumane
  • Wanting our schools to be true citadels of learning and discovery, and not merely factories of propaganda and indoctrination
  • Being serious about the separation of church and state
  • Standing up to institutions, laws, and persons that would strip away the rights of others

All these right-wingers who are shouting they are fighting “woke” – they are trying to destroy all of the above. They want to stop the continued acceptance of diversity in our nation, and instead take us back to the 1950s — or the 1850s — where white, cis-gendered males ran everything, and all others were supposed to stay in the shadows and be powerless.

I’m not having it. I’ve spent a lifetime gradually getting woke, and I’m not going back. And it’s time we claim the word and all it means, and shout it back at all those who would put the chains back on society:

“I’m woke, and proud of it. Why aren’t you?”


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Bruce Maples

Bruce Maples has been involved in politics and activism since 2004, when he became active in the Kerry Kentucky movement. (Read the rest of his bio on the Bruce Maples Bio page in the bottom nav bar.)

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