Letter – No shame in being woke

Published 5:48 pm Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Editor, The Smithfield Times:

Concerning a recent opinion expressed in a letter to the editor (“Not a fan of wokeness,” June 21), I will not waste too much time on the depth of the bile exposed, just a couple of topics: woke and CRT.

First of all, woke is an appropriated term by those that now use it to denigrate others. Originally, woke was used as a term that allowed those who suffered from Jim Crow to describe the difference they experienced in treatment in segregated America as they focused on the disparity between hyperbole and reality. Today, it is recognized as a synonym for enlightened or educated. 

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However, for those who exploit the term as a pejorative to be virtue-signaling to their own entitled or privileged group, to say one is anti-woke is a nice way of saying they are intolerant of those outside of their group. Whether the term anti-woke is used racially, religiously, to express misogyny, attack another’s gender, disabilities or national origin, it all comes down to the term being a hate word.

For those who attack Critical Race Theory, this is nothing new. They are just pretending it is to be self-righteous. The people who examine America’s history generally fall into two camps: those who want to glorify exceptionalism and those who want the whole story. It is that simple.  The exceptionalists will continue to promote the feel-good story that they believe entitles them.  Others will say, “America was never America to me. But this I swear, one day it will be.” – Langston Hughes

The term “USA No. 1!” is a declaration of winning. You can’t have a winner without a loser. Who were the losers? They were the indigenous people, the enslaved, the immigrants and marginalized. People who were exploited and faced expropriation have a story to tell. They are America’s ancestors too and it should be acknowledged for what they endured and the significance of accomplishments and contributions.


Jerry Tenney