What is the real threat of so-called “wokeness”? I’m increasingly convinced the answer varies greatly depending on the spaces where you live, work, and worship. In blue America, wokeness—defined broadly as a particularly zealous commitment to identity politics and/or various versions of critical race theory—can lead to intolerance and censorship.
In red America, by contrast, the challenge of “wokeness” is far different. In red America, the mere allegation of wokeness can often close minds and hearts. “Woke” is treated as a synonym for “wrong,” yet the definition of “woke” is increasingly imprecise and often tied to anything that challenges conservative conventional political wisdom, especially on matters of race.
In fact, fear of wokeness and “woke” ideas is leading legislature after legislature to consider (and sometimes pass) broad bills that claim to ban indoctrination into critical race theory but instead often function as unconstitutional speech codes, punishing a broad range of protected speech.
Call something “woke,” and too many Americans wall themselves off from engagement and reflexively oppose ideas that should be carefully considered.