Defining Woke down

Today I voluntarily walk into the quicksand of Woke,  which I generously award a capital W, so we can easily spot it.

The danger in discussing Woke, like its ally CRT, is that we don’t have a universal definition. 

So I will invent one, as I did with CRT, a/k/a Critical Race Theory. Here’s my definition of CRT:

To believe, because of slavery, the United States was not once racist would be ignorant.

To believe, because of its Nazi past, that Germany is still racist would be shameful.

Get the picture? Things change. People change. Attitudes change. Both Super Bowl quarterbacks this year are Black. That would have been impossible 50 years ago. And Patrick Mahones and Jalen Hurts did not get there because of their skin color. They got there by merit, which Woke insists is racist.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines Woke this way: “Woke, adjective: Originally: well-informed, up-to-date. Now chiefly: alert to racial or social discrimination and injustice; frequently in stay Woke.”

If it were merely that, I would have no objection. 

But when it is used, as many have, to slur all white people as irredeemably racist, and all People of Color as oppressed, is a vicious lie, a vein that runs deeply on the Left, and one that sows irreparable harm among Americans.

Love of country once was see as admirable. 

To the Woke, who see everything through the prism of race (as communists do through the prism of class) love of country is a moral failing.

Among the ideas that Woke opposes are these: cultural appropriation, meritocracy, math, apple pie, mass incarceration, grammar, Apple watches, gentrification, and bootstrap theory. Also that race and gender are merely social constructs, silly inventions. 

Woke has degenerated into seeing everything and everyone through a prism of race, as if nothing else matters, that race defines you. 

That idea stands in direct opposition to one of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s most powerful quotes, a demand, really: 

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

That statement is anti-Woke. It demands people be judged by their beliefs and actions, not by the color of their skin. 

Has America totally achieved that?


Has America tried hard and made Herculean efforts?


Is it true America has more Black billionaires than any other country on earth?


Is it true that America has more POC elected officials — including chiefs of police — than any other predominantly white country?


Is it true that America’s four largest cities — New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Houston — all have Black mayors?


There are, and have been, many more, including a president of the United States.

Has all racism been eliminated in the U.S.?

Sadly, no. The same for anti-Semitism, anti-Asian hate, Islamophobia, transphobia, and all the rest.

The question is not the existence of hate, but how much it changes the daily life of those minorities. And are there remedies, primarily through the courts? 

Yes, there are.

Cases of overt racism are relatively rare, even though each one stings. The perception of massive racism, I believe, is more widespread, and based on misperception and ignorance.

Americans believe, according to polling, that African-Americans comprise 41% of the U.S. population. The actual figure is 12%.

Americans estimate the nation is 27% Muslim and 30% Jewish when the actual proportions are 1 and 2%, respectively. Those polled likewise think Native Americans make up 27% of the country when they are 1%, Asian Americans are thought to be 29% when they are 6%.

Respondents say 30% of Americans are gay, but it’s about 3%. Bisexuals? People say 29%; in reality, it’s 4%. How about transgender people? Those polled say 21%; it’s actually more like 0.6%.

Those are amazing misperceptions, and can lead to bad ideas, such as the “replacement theory” that whites are being replaced by Blacks.

This comes as the result of bad education, or a willing blindness to facts, such as the election deniers who believe the 2020 election was rigged but are unable to prove any of it. Even Bill Barr, the attorney general appointed by Donald J. Trump, called “bullshit” on the election fraud theory, which was pushed by very nonWokepeople.

Returning to the Woke, they talked themselves and others into believing that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis had banned Black history education in Florida because he objected to alleged propaganda in a proposed course for Advanced Placement students, for which only a fraction of students qualify.

For the vast majority, there is plenty of African-American material that is part of the Florida Department of Education curriculum.

This comes from the Florida Department of Education website:

“The history of the United States, including the period of discovery, early colonies, the War for Independence, the Civil War, the expansion of the United States to its present boundaries, the world wars, and the civil rights movement to the present. American history shall be viewed as factual, not as constructed, shall be viewed as knowable, teachable, and testable, and shall be defined as the creation of a new nation based largely on the universal principles stated in the Declaration of Independence.”

Specifically to the Black experience:

“The history of African-Americans, including: the history of African peoples before the political conflicts that led to the development of slavery; the passage to America; the enslavement experience; abolition; and the history and contributions of Americans of the African diaspora to society.”

Does that sound racist to you? How about this?

“Students shall develop an understanding of the ramifications of prejudice, racism, and stereotyping on individual freedoms, and examine what it means to be a responsible and respectful person, for the purpose of encouraging tolerance of diversity in a pluralistic society and for nurturing and protecting democratic values and institutions.

“Instructional shall include the roles and contributions of individuals from all walks of life and their endeavors to learn and thrive throughout history as artists, scientists, educators, businesspeople, influential thinkers, members of the faith community, and political and government leaders and the courageous steps they took to fulfill the promise of democracy and unite the nation.”


“Instructional materials shall include the vital contributions of African-Americans to build and strengthen American society and celebrate the inspirational stories of African-Americans who prospered, even in the most difficult circumstances.”

Do you object to any of that?

But here is where it confronts Wokeism:

“No person is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously, solely by virtue of his or her race or sex.

“No race is inherently superior to another race.

“No person should be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment solely or partly on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, disability, or sex.

“Meritocracy or traits such as a hard work ethic are not racist but fundamental to the right to pursue happiness and be rewarded for industry.

“A person, by virtue of his or her race or sex, does not bear responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex.

“A person should not be instructed that he or she must feel guilt, anguish, or other forms of psychological distress for actions, in which he or she played no part, committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex.”

Isn’t that what Dr. King said? 

There is no such thing as “cultural appropriation.” Music, food, fashions, architecture does not “belong” to a group. It all belongs to the world (with allowances made for copyrights, of course.) 

Race is not their only fixation. In the name of Inclusion, or Equity, or whatever, they talk themselves into believing falsehoods that contradict science — such as that men can give birth. To support that crazy notion, they cancel the word “mother.” It is silly beyond belief.

Americans are not born with original sin. Everyone must be judged on their actions and beliefs, not of some long-dead ancestor.

America recognizes the rights and responsibilities of individuals. 

And individuals should be identified by how they act, not by how they look.

16 thoughts on “Defining Woke down”

  1. As always you have summed up an idea in so many words, regardless of feelings, with an eye for the heart of the matter. Bravo Mr. Bykofsky, bravo!

  2. The best article I have ever read on wokeism. This should be syndicated to every newspaper and read in every class room in the country.

  3. First of all, I agree, Stu, that reports of “massive” racism in this country may be somewhat exaggerated. I base that upon my personal belief that MOST people are inherently good. On the other hand (playing Devil’s Advocate here a bit), if you spend some time in certain parts of the country, that perception might well change. You have to remember that you live in a very progressive city, our beloved Philadelphia, and sometimes the perceptions we have are formed by the people with whom we surround ourselves.

    Earlier today, I watched a video of folks being interviewed at the Trump “rally” in South Carolina, and the sheer willful ignorance of some of these people is stunning and frightening. Several of them stated on video that they believe Trump is still president; Trump controls an “alternate” military, which he put in charge after signing an Executive Order in 2018; Biden doesn’t have the “real presidential seal” in front of him when he speaks; the war in Ukraine is fabricated and the refugees from it are “actors”, etc. It would be laughable if it wasn’t so damned scary. These people also vote. These people are absolutely racist idiots. I can only hope they are in the minority.

    Regardless, the whole concept of words like “woke” — words, mind you, NOT things — rattles my cage. Why must we constantly take a simple word like that and make a mountain out of a molehill over it? Why do we have to put such labels on a group of people in the first place? Why can’t we simply use our brains and hearts and souls and judge everyone based upon their behavior and how they treat others?

    I don’t put myself in any particular category, and I certainly would never use a word like “woke” in describing myself. That said, I try to be kind and accepting of others regardless of their color, creed, sexual orientation, whatever. And yes, it pains me when I see a black man being killed by police while crying out for his mother. Wouldn’t any human being feel that? Does that really make me “woke” by the definitions stated above? I think not.

    “And individuals should be identified by how they act, not by how they look.”

    Yes, sir.

    1. I agree that most people are good, or at least not bad. And while I live here, I read a lot about what happens elsewhere.
      Most white people don’t wake up in the morning thinking they are white. The huge proliferation of Black elected officials, entertainment stars, athletes, to me is proof we are NOT a “racist nation.”
      As to labeling, I see no harm in identifying with a cause in which you believe. I only ask the cause not be bullshit —- like the moronic election deniers. I think you know how I feel about them.

  4. Hey Stu, your juxtaposition of wokism and election denial is brilliant. It occurred to me that if you simply replaced “white power structure” with “the deep state,” or “the swamp” with “the patriarchy” in any given sentence, you wouldn’t be able to tell the players without a program. They also share the trait that elevates performative acts above substantive ones, and where attacking ones’ ideological opponents as corrupt, evil and oppressive is the primary goal. Both have a world view that “the system” has been rigged against them. The only things they don’t agree on is who is being victimized and which nefarious force is doing the rigging. Hope they never get together on those issues.

  5. Affirmative action (the requirement to make hiring decision based on a racial composition ‘guideline’) is merely racism in reverse. It was the first ‘woke’ action, even if the term ‘woke’ wasn’t around back in the days of that dreadful decision.

    (Let the outraged howling and name-calling begin.)

  6. Stu – I think this is one of your best essays yet regarding a very touchy subject. It is well-versed and well explained.

  7. Stu:

    As the late Chairman Mao Zedong was wont to say, your comments show sound thinking.
    This column is one of your best since you went online; absolutely first-rate and well thought through, an outstanding example of why in America today common sense isn’t that all common.

  8. This just in…George Santos has parachuted down safely after single-handedly shooting down the Chinese spy balloon.

  9. Santos told reporters he was taught how to be a fighter pilot by a family reiative of his, Eddie Rickenbacker.

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