WAKE Up Not WOKE Up
About the author: T. Spike Terwilliger, Ed.D., is a retired public servant from both the military and the Federal Government, former professor of education, leadership, and national security.
Our nation has shifted markedly over the past and current administrations. It’s disturbing from sea to shining sea.
I’m talking about how everything seems to be so called “WOKE.” Whether it’s the President (including Trump and Biden), the so called “progressives,” the Press, and others; it’s disturbing.
First, American has been around for 245 years and we have a long past. We have more than a few examples of periods (some decades) where this nation didn’t show equality, respect for people of color, respect for women, and respect for ideas. That’s shameful, and a part of history. That history should be taught in full. That history should not be blamed on a six year old in school and told they are evil and are “privileged” as happened earlier this year. We know of the long history of inequality to include LGBT citizens and women.
The truth is that not everything is about race. So many, and some very respected fellow citizens, pull the race card from the bottom of the deck when race doesn’t apply to the situation. Doing so, dilutes what racism is and that in, and of itself is harmful to society. There remains pure hateful racism. It’s wrong on every level. When everything is tied to race, then when it is based on hate and racism; it sounds like a normal day at the office. There are more examples than there is time to list. We have to have normal, thoughtful, and cerebral conversations that respect others’ views. This example must start at the top of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of our government. It must start at the state level, and the local level. It must start with each citizen. Yes, we must call out racism when it pops it’s ugly head and at the same time, we must use strong restraint to not use the race card from the bottom of the deck. At the end of the day; we will all be stronger because of it.
Speaking out whether through free speech or peaceful protesting is okay and not deemed supremacy or racist or misogyny. It is really sad and just plain silly to call Lt Governor (elect) Winsome Sears a white supremacist when she’s a) black and b) she supports not teaching CRT in our schools. It is really sad and just plain silly to call the voters of Virginia racist when they voted for the republican candidate over the democratic candidate. It’s sad and just plain silly when thieves stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from smash and grabs in Chicago; the mayor said the root case is the pandemic. It’s sad and just plain silly when a member of Congress called a fellow democratic senator a racist and misogynist because he wanted to look more closely at the Build Back Better bill. It’s really sad and just plain silly to call a teenager a white supremacist when there was zero evidence from any posts, his personal phone etc that he associated with any of those white hate groups and further is white and those who were killed were white. Just a few examples in the very recent past; and there are hundreds — thousands of examples that are even more disturbing.
Schools should not take sides. Schools at the secondary school and schools of higher education. Pitting student against student is wrong. Making one groups of students feel bad or actually telling students they are evil for something that happened 245 years ago is wrong. Telling new college students that if you are white or if you are wealthy, or if you are thin that you are privileged and if you are black, Asian, or Lainx; from anywhere outside America, or over- or underweight that you are oppressed — this is wrong and while JMU pulled this presentation after it was “announced” the very plan to do so was wrong.
When schools suspend students for not using more than three pronouns, that is wrong. When a consortium of universities say that Thanksgiving should be a day of mourning — that is wrong. The most damaging of these is when schools at any level move to mandate one thought lens, punish or remove faculty or students for non-compliance, and disrespect the views of others who don’t agree with the WOKE approach.
Much of this is manifested by the press… the free press. I remember when the news was just that — news. Now, the airways, and internet sites are filled with hate, with opinions that seem short on facts and long on selling eyeballs, clicks, and advertisements. When the press prints or posts or writes false information in the news without identifying its a singular person’s opinion — that hurts the premise of the free press. Equally so, when the press takes a senior leader — whether the president of the United States or a citizen on the street’s comments out of context to alter the news, that is as wrong as telling a false story to the American people. I like the BBC model. They report the news event facts; and then below the article, the author provides commentary and opinion. That way, the reader has the facts and can continue or form their own opinion.
As both a member of the LBGT and Asian American communities — I’ve seen this perhaps more often than most. Here are just a few recent examples where Asian Americans were left out of the conversation as a nation: Little is taught about how a Democratic president put Japanese American CITIZENS in concentration camps after WWII. Little is taught about how Asian Americans were left out of the Civil Rights Act and had to be “included” with separate legislation. Little is taught about how just last year, the Congress passed a law that hate crimes INCLUDED Asian Americans. Little is taught that it wasn’t until 1955 that Korean children could be adopted into the United States.
That was in the past, and sadly, it’s still prevalent today for both groups and seemingly an example of “WOKE” speech that is wrong its surface. Members of Congress now refer to people that are non-white as black and brown .. and that offends me more than one might think. Asian Americans are not brown, and neither are Native Americans; yet as the two smallest minority groups; several members of Congress — especially the so called SQUAD and members of the Congressional Black Caucus tend to use this new “WOKENESS” terminology when speaking both outside and inside their respective chambers. It’s not inclusive and it’s offensive.
I encourage, especially leaders to WAKE UP and not WOKE UP. It’s okay to have other opinions and perspectives. It’s not okay to force those opinions and perspectives on everyone.