The concept of Wokeism first originated in the 1860s and has since reappeared in instances through the 1960s and again in 2008, all for similar matters, social and political injustices, primarily in relation to the african-american communities.
In today’s world, ‘woke’ refers to the idea of being politically aware and engaged in social matters, many even refer to wokeism as the ‘doctrine’ of social justice. The term resurfaced around a year ago when the Black Lives Matter movement rose to its greatest importance since it’s prominence in 2015, triggered amid the killing of George Floyd in May of 2020. Now, wokeism seems to be expanding rather quickly, providing both virtues and shortcomings as it takes on a new role in the present day.
In today’s society, wokeism has taken shape into a concept which embodies the developing nature of this globalised world we live in. Being woke and having awareness on most topics is a good thing, policing other people’s thoughts and waiting to pounce on their ‘mistakes’ is not, and is a hand in hand product of cancel culture. People have the right to be heard given the appropriate circumstances, but in today’s culture, wokeism seems to be creating a barrier of disconnect between expressing one’s views and a will to express oneself. The fear of being segregated from the “norm” is becoming an increasingly pressing and relevant issue nowadays as people are afraid of becoming a societal reject.
Over the recent years, there have been growing concerns over the nature of wokeism, including the oppression and extremism behind it. Those who are woke typically, call out or correct others that oppose the ideologies wokeism follows. In many instances, wokeism has been compared intimately with ‘cancel culture’ in which mistakes and flaws are known to be overly criticized. This can often lead to an attack on one’s characters and reputation, especially on social media. A couple years back, former US president, Barack Obama shared his own thoughts on wokeism, revealing his objection to its ‘idea of purity’ and that even people with good intentions have flaws. He also stated, in political terms, “That’s not activism, that’s not bringing about change.”
So why does this matter to you? Woodstock is a diverse community and host to people from different corners of the globe, more importantly of different religious, socio and political backgrounds. What does that mean? Woodstock is made up of people with different views and ideas of what is right and wrong, the fine line in between is something that we’ll only continue to understand as we go through highschool and receive further education. However, what we shouldn’t do is encourage a culture where people are no longer comfortable expressing themselves, a thought which is so purely against the values taught and learnt at Woodstock. In gathering student opinion, one 11th grade student claims, “the new pressure brought by wokeism and its rapid evolvement forces one to form an almost ‘governed’ opinion.”
While others feel threatened by a call to conform to these societal expectations, some argue its role in society is vital and acts as a step towards justice. Many believe that the pressures and expectations as a result of wokeism’s new trend are in fact beneficial as it pushes people to further educate themselves and participate in the challenge of constantly being politically informed, otherwise known as ‘staying woke.’ Not only does it market political awareness but its so-called ‘threat’ creates a motive for people to fight for social justice and against discriminations of race, gender, and minorities, that are commonly seen today on a global scale.
Wokeism’s growing culture has presented itself more and more in present-day societies, encouraging the thought of staying politically engaged and contributing to social justice. Although this may be true, wokeism also has its dangers and provides risks of oppressing opposing views in the process of maintaining this new culture. Clearly, wokeism can exercise its benefits and bring prosperity if executed the right way, not oppressively. As global citizens, it is our responsibility to find a good balance between activism and extremism in light of wokeism’s increasing popularity.
Keerat Uppal is a staff reporter.
Edited by Luke Dsouza.