To proponents of "woke culture", the term denotes only a simple awareness of the fundamental inequalities and injustices suffered by minorities - religious, racial, social (LGBTQ). To its critics, woke culture smacks of liberal authoritarianism - a new cultural religion that tolerates no dissent on threat of 'cancellation'. Which is it?
Wokeness is an awareness of privilege and inequality
Wokeness stayed true to its origins in the American Civil Rights Movement. It was applied to show awareness of structural inequalities.
Wokeness is being conscious of inequalities
The term is a call to arms to be aware of the (largely racial) inequities that govern Western society. Historically, it has encouraged peaceful protest against systemic racism and spawned positive forward-looking movements.
White guilt, or the feeling of culpability in benefiting from inherited wealth and privilege, is ultimately why so many liberals advocate for wokeness. Proponents of wokeness aim to correct the inequity that they represent.
Wokeness is being weaponised to undermine the right
Wokeness is now used by left-leaning activists to abuse those who do not agree with them.
Wokeness represents cultural elitism
The term is used by a liberal elite to self-identify and to delegitimise those who disagree with them. The 'oppressed' that wokeness purports to defend do not describe themselves in the terms of intersectionality, white privilege or systemic racism.
Wokeness silences ideas and positions that are adverse to social justice. The primary quality of woke culture is its censorship of discussion - heterodoxy and debate have become difficult, for fear of 'cancellation'. Wokeness has politicised all areas of society.
"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.
Statistics show that those who describe themselves as "woke" come from wealthier backgrounds. Wokeness is not for society's marginalized, but for the privileged elite - condescending, and more a signal of virtue than serious activism.
Wokeness is being misrepresented to sustain systemic injustice
Wokeness has been co-opted by the right to undermine important social and economic injustices.
Wokeness is used to undermine inequality
Right-wing groups have politicised the term 'woke' to undermine the drive for social justice and equality. Ridiculing the word serves to deflect the real debate around left's broader ideology of social justice and fighting inequity.