Have We Gone Too Far ‘Woke?’

(A question on one of my essays, and my response)

Martie Sirois

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Photo by Julien L on Unsplash

In response to a short article I wrote, The Truth About Being a ‘Woke’ White Person, a reader posed the following question:

I have seen some sketchy videos lately, that are supposedly woke.

The fact that I WANT to exercise is now considered fat-shaming
The fact that I WANT to lose weight is apparently racist

I have been wanting to ask some scholar on wokeness, so I am asking you what your opinion is on those 2 statements, and is it possible to have gone too far in our desire to be woke?

This comment and question was immediately familiar. I’ve addressed various forms of it in my educational videos. *For context, aside from writing and editing, I’m a content creator on a couple of social media platforms. I create and distribute a range of videos that cover the entertainment, culture and politics gamut, which I try to reflect from several angles — everything from educational to satirical — to reach different audiences. For example, one of my short series, “Debunked,” tackles persistent myths and misperceptions that largely go unchallenged in our society. By exposing flaws in logic and breaking layers down to the truth, based on history, facts, and cultural context, all presented in three minutes or less, it’s easier for some people to digest than, say, reading an article.

February, 2021 was when I first noticed that the conservative right had suddenly co-opted the word ‘woke,’ had managed to quickly (and effectively) weaponize it, and were repeating it ad nauseum. It’s now almost February of 2023, so I’ve spoken a lot about this in my videos, including the word’s history, cultural relevance, denotation and connotation. Across numerous online platforms, to this day I still see some form of the question above time and time again. So clearly, many people are still muddled in a murky notion of what woke actually means, both literally and figuratively.

I felt like this reader’s comment warranted a longer response than I’d typically provide here on Medium (it did, translating into the “loose” essay that follows below). And from experience, I also felt confident that at least a few other people, who maybe aren’t as likely to reach out in the comments…

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Martie Sirois

Covering the intersection of culture, politics & equality. Featured in Marker, HuffPost, PopSugar, Scary Mommy; heard on NPR, SiriusXM, LTYM, TIFO podcast, etc.