A woke person walks into a bar…
Barman: What can I get you?
Woke person: I’ll have whatever drink is most favored by minorities.
You see, there is absolutely nothing funny about being woke.
What does it mean to be woke, anyway?
The OED defines “woke” as “well informed in a political or cultural sense.” Woke is just a woker way of declaring yourself “awake,” conscious to the injustices that are occurring in the world today.
To be woke is akin to taking the red pill. Once you go woke, you can never go back to sleep. The enlightened remain “awoke” forever.
Today, you can find How “Woke” Are You? quizzes. BuzzFeed famously christened white men “woke baes” for speaking up against sexism and racism. Twitter even has a “woke-o-meter” rankings of those celebrities deemed insanely woke.
Basically the “woke” are an enlightened bunch, no longer oblivious to the injustices of the world.
But, dear reader, I have my doubts.
And if you have doubts about my doubts, let me guide you in the direction of Joel Kotkin, a fellow in urban studies at Chapman University in Orange, California. He writes about demographic, social, and economic trends in the U.S. and internationally. He also pulls no punches when it comes to delivering some harsh truths.
In a recent essay for the Orange County Register, Kotkin writes: “Perhaps no issue more motivates progressive activists than social justice. Good intentions may motivate the social justice warriors, albeit sometimes sprinkled with a dollop of self-hatred. But good intentions do not necessarily produce good results. Indeed, often the policies favored by progressive idealists hinder the economic and social progress of the very people they seek to rescue.”
Case in point: In California, the capital of wokeness, woke policies are clearly not helping the disadvantaged. Indeed, as Kotkin notes, “despite all the progressive rhetoric, African Americans and Latinos suffer considerably higher rates of poverty in California than in the rest of the nation.”
The Golden State certainly shines when it comes to inequality. Data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s supplemental povertymeasure shows roughly 7.5 million Californians — about 19 percent of the state population— live in poverty.
Another fifth of the population is categorized as near the poverty level. Close to a third of the nation’s welfare recipients live in California.
Moreover, Los Angeles, a mecca of enlightenment, now boasts the largest homeless population in America.
This all makes for quite depressing reading. What factors are fueling the soaring rates of inequality? Thank massive green regulations, identity politics, tribalism, high taxation, green zoning, and radical one-party progressive governing.
Poverty appears to be rampant in cities known for woke governance. At least 10 cities on the West Coast have declared states of emergency in the last few years. San Diego, now in the midst of a severe homeless crisis, has responded by erecting tents to provide shelter for the destitute. In May, Seattle, another bastion of wokeness, also erected its own version of tent city.
High energy prices, a direct result of the most extreme climate policies imaginable, are hitting working-class families, and hitting them hard.
Should people stop campaigning for better environmental policies? No, but surely American society can strike a balance somewhere between ambivalence and mania.
After all, many of these policies actively discourage the growth of manufacturing and other traditionally blue-collar industries. The woke response? Learn to code, brother.
Interestingly, the deepest blue cities, which tend to signify high levels of woke behavior — think San Francisco, New York, San Jose, and the aforementioned Los Angeles — are currently struggling with escalating levels of poverty and homelessness. As Kotkin notes, such cities may “be ruled by social justice activists but, according to Pew research, suffer the largest gaps between the bottom and top quintiles.”
From looking at the state of affairs in the wokest cities in America, one is prompted to ask the following: How much do progressives actually care about the poor and the marginalized? Are they enacting policies that help people become self-sufficient, or are they more concerned with making people a subsidiary of the government? Instead of enlightening the masses, these policies serve to subjugate the masses.
And here I was thinking wokeness meant being aware of the injustices shaping the lives of real people, when in fact, the woke philosophy appears to be more concerned with vague concepts like “equality” and “inclusivity.” Such terms can mean anything, literally anything. What exactly are these concepts delivering?
Nothing but pain and grief.
Come on people, wake up and smell the fair trade coffee.