I got an email the other day from a reader who objected to my repeated use of the word “woke” to refer to performative social justice warriors who don’t effect change. He claimed that the usage was turning people off who might otherwise be on my side. When I asked for evidence, he said that when Richard Dawkins praised this site on Twitter, a lot of the Twitter comments, said the reader, mentioned unfavorably my use of the term “woke”. I haven’t checked as i don’t do Twitter fights.
I know of course that “woke” originally had a more positive meaning, and was black argot for “alert to social injustice” (by that I mean true social injustice). Now, however, it’s used in a pejorative manner, as I indicated. In that sense it’s similar to “p.c.” or “politically correct” which started out positive and then became satirical. In fact, it almost has the same meaning as “woke.”
But I’m still uncomfortable using a pejorative term to describe a movement I dislike intensely, though I’m not quite sure why. Perhaps it detracts from my credibility or my arguments, but I suspect that those who are turned off by it are looking for an excuse to dismiss what I say. I haven’t yet processed why I’m contemplating this change.
The alternative term that the person suggested was a jawbreaker of many syllables, and was so arcane nobody would know its meaning. (I forgot it.) So I’m canvassing readers to see if:
a. I should still keep using the term “woke”
b. If not, what word would you suggest.
Please comment below.