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How do we think about the "woke" debate?
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Woke is a meaningless term

"Woke" is a collection of ambiguous ideas that do not naturally link together. More of a rallying cry or a posture than a coherent philosophy of change, its primary function is to signify adherence to a generational tribe.

The Argument

How does one fight for racial justice, trans-rights, and feminism at the same time? The answer to that question has not yet been answered by those who subscribe to woke culture. Despite no clear path forward, advocates of wokeness try to wade through the complex milieu that the intersection of these social justice issues creates. Ultimately, it fosters a culture with no clear or unifying goal, and sometimes, even conflicting ideas of social justice.[1] The recent scandal with author J.K. Rowling over transgenderism highlights the conflicting goals of the movement. Rowling argued that the abolition of gender pronouns was antithetical to the aims of feminism. Her critique was met with swift condemnation by the woke bloc, but it displayed how two seemingly noble causes can have the same means, but different ends.[2] As Wesley Yang suggested, it also creates conflicts in the domain of racial justice. Yang, an Asian American, writes of the very different expectations and perceptions surrounding his identity, and how the lack of precision in woke culture may leave wreckage in its path. More specifically, he believes that woke culture's idea of equality is an authoritarian dream.[1] Examples like these demonstrate the arbitrary function of wokeness, and how it is more about signaling virtue than a clear-cut effort to create equality.

Counter arguments

Social justice causes are not mutually exclusive. Black, indigenous, people of color, and the LGBTQ+ all share degrees of oppression from a white and patriarchal societal structure. All these groups have had individual struggles against oppression, but through becoming woke, one becomes aware that they are often disadvantaged by the same systems and institutions. While this may translate into a broad social justice platform, it ultimately rallies around the cause for equity. Any conflicts that arise due to the breadth of movements are often small disagreements over how to achieve reform. Additionally, there is a generational difference in how social justice is viewed. If systemic discrimination and bigotry are to be dismantled, a strong coalition of activists is needed to demand reform within these institutions.



[P1] Woke culture does not account for the complexity of many of the issues it seeks to address. [P2] Social justice movements that fall under the umbrella of wokeness can often have conflicting outcomes. [P3] There is an assumption that all minorities face the same challenges when each may face unique ones.

Rejecting the premises

[Rejecting P1] Many successful social justice movements do not have clear-cut policy goals or endgames. [Rejecting P2] Conflicts between social justice causes are often due to antiquated concepts not matching up with the modern mission. [Rejecting P3] Systemic racism and oppression are primarily the results of white privilege and supremacy, so all minorities are vulnerable.


This page was last edited on Wednesday, 4 Nov 2020 at 09:31 UTC

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