Why I’m Woke!

Yesterday I was abused by being called woke. Not that I see it as abuse. It’s what the right-wing have started banding about as a put-down. In their eyes it is a sign of weakness. They regard all caring as a sign of weakness. I see it as entirely the opposite. Standing up to injustice and exploitation is a sign of strength, not weakness.

I thought I’d reinvestigate the word.

Here’s a definition: woke chiefly US slang 1 : aware of and actively attentive to important societal facts and issues (especially issues of racial and social justice).


I stand opposed to all social injustice, racism, exploitation and inequality. I am woke to what is going on.

The establishment thrives on a hierarchy of injustice and inequality. I’m woke to it.

There is a racial and class system that makes second-class citizens out of most of the population. I’m woke to it.

I’m woke to a political system that gives millions away to a few while taxing the poor.

I’m woke to the gross unfair inequality that lies at the base of our society.

I’m woke to the terrible crimes committed by this elite establishment in the past – the attacking of other countries, the pillaging of their wealth, destruction of their cultures, death and enslavement of their people and the way that wealth was brought back to perpetuate an unfair system in which a few lived in great mansions with servants while the majority were exploited, overworked and kept in abject poverty.

I remain opposed to this hierarchical establishment that is still flourishing and exploiting to this day.

Yes. I am woke. I wear it as a badge of honour. I care. I want a better, fairer world for everyone. I want an end to discrimination, racism, sexism, misogyny and a system that creates such an unfair world and perpetuates wars and gross inequality.

I am woke.

I regard those who would use such a term as a put-down as being either ignorant, misguided, extremely unpleasant, arrogant or stupid. Take your pick.

In my view supporting racism and inequality is simply nasty.

Looking at history without recognising the wrongs done is a sign of ignorance, stupidity or blind nationalism.

10 thoughts on “Why I’m Woke!

  1. Well seen, Opher. I confess that I have used the word “woke” in the right wing sense in the past, but about six months ago I realized that its actual meaning is “having woken up.” The political right have perverted its meaning into the opposite; just as the political left, particularly in the USA, have perverted the word “liberal” into its total opposite.

    The next step is for you and I to agree on what “equality” is!

    1. Lol. I should think we might be able to find some common ground on the question of equality – although, as you imply, it could be a thorny one.

      1. Well Opher, as I see it, there are four tenable philosophical positions on equality. (1) Ethical equality – what is right for you to do, is right for me to do, and vice versa. (2) Political equality – no-one should be a slave or subject to anyone else. (3) Equality of opportunity. (4) Equality of outcome, regardless of how an individual acts. My position is (1). Yours seems to be somewhere between (3) and (4).

      2. I see 1 as really being part of 3.
        I don’t want equality of outcome. I do want equality of opportunity.

      3. Opher, it’s good that you rejected (4), because any system that seeks to enforce equality of outcome requires enormous inequality of political power. (2) negates (4).

        You see (1) as being part of (3). Certainly (1) is a precursor to (3), because it means that discriminating against people purely on the basis of things outside their control, like race or gender, is off the table. But myself, I prefer abundance of opportunity to equality of opportunity. Everyone should have the chance of every opportunity they want to take. Otherwise put, no-one should ever put any obstacle in the way of anyone who wants to have or to take an opportunity (subject to the usual proviso that it shouldn’t cause any objective harm to anyone else).

      4. But Neil there is no point in having an infinite abundance if you can’t access it. A friend of mine was brought up in South Africa. There was a community pool for white kids and he remembers all the black kids outside staring in through the fence.
        At the moment the wealthy privileged have access to abundant choices. If you’re born on a council estate in poverty the choices are out there but you can’t access them.

      5. Yes, that kind of problem – institutionalized (and political) discrimination – is exactly what I am trying to single out for criticism when I say that no-one should put any obstacle in the way of those who want to have or to take opportunities. On the other hand, to deny to those who are less deprived the opportunities they need is also wrong. Which is why I find the view you have sometimes expressed, that grammar schools (including the one you were head of!) should be abolished, to be both silly and wrong. Discrimination against bright people because they are bright is just as bad as discrimination against black people because they are black, or against poor people because they are poor through no fault of their own.

        BTW, I already wrote a paper on Equality, making many of the same points. It’s here: https://libertarianism.uk/2017/11/08/on-equality/. If it seems familiar to you, it’s because you would have already seen it at WriterBeat (those were the days!)

      6. Neil, my school was called a grammar school for historical reasons. It was actually a comprehensive school with the full range of abilities and social backgrounds. The interesting thing was that it achieved similar results as a comprehensive as it had done as a grammar school – only taking the top 15% from the area.
        What I want, by abolishing grammar schools, is to properly fund ALL schools and provide quality education for ALL students. The Grammar School system creamed off 10% and wrote off 90%. The quality of education in the ‘other’ schools was incredibly poor.
        I’d do away with all Public Schools too so that the wealthy cannot buy preferential education for their privileged offspring. Then, and only then, would we get the funding to provide quality staff, quality support, quality equipment and quality buildings to provide quality education for all. I believe every child deserves the best.
        I’m off to see friends, but I’ll have a look at your equality piece when I get back.

      7. Well Opher, I can’t work out when Beverley Grammar School was ever a comprehensive. Wikipedia doesn’t mention it: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beverley_Grammar_School. And it got top grades from Ofsted at three successive inspections – 2006, 2008 and 2010 – when you were headmaster!

        I remember you posting on WriterBeat about your retirement day in 2011. You posted a photo, with you at the podium. Way back on the left of the picture was a very shifty-looking man, who presumably was your replacement. If that guy got charge of the school, no wonder it became a “failing school” inside two years!

        Anyway, I see you’ve created another thread about equality, which I’ll respond on when I’m ready. It’s likely to be a while.

      8. Lol – yes a trio of outstandings! Then just a year later, after I’d gone, it went into need to improve. That’s a story. The guy was pretty shifty! The school went comprehensive in 1974. The year before I arrived.

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