Woke This Mornin’, Feelin’ Round For My Shoes

Over the last few years the word “woke” has become ubiquitous, with its new racially charged meaning. Ten years ago there was no such usage that I was aware of. I first noticed the new meaning of the term four or five years ago. I assumed it had been generated by the Obama/Ayers crowd, or possibly by an Ivy League university.

I was curious about the origin of “woke”, but it’s frustrating to do an internet search on the word, because the results are dominated by examples from the last couple of years.

I wrote to Diana West and asked her if she knew anything about the history of “woke”, and she sent me back this very helpful message:

I searched around for early usage — searching “stay woke”, also “woke” and “rap lyrics,” “woke” and “social justice” and “woke” and “systemic racism,” things like that. I found some entries around 2013 hip hop, maybe Black History Month, but not much.

My sense is that it starts to enter more common usage in 2016. A January 2017 review in The Los Angeles Times of an Asian-type anger exhibition pegged its definition to a radical mag named Gidra at UCLA in 1969.

Gidra sounds like an intriguing publication — dedicated to fighting discrimination against Asian-Americans in the earliest days of the WAYCISM craze.

I was amazed that “woke” went all the way back to 1969. I never heard it at all back in those days, nor for more than forty years thereafter.

But nowadays wokeness is everywhere. Or is it wokehood? Or wokicity? In any case, as a general rule wokesters regard almost anything that white people do or say as WAYCIST.

Racism is rampant. Systemic racism. If you’re white, you’re a racist, whether you recognize it or not.

If you’re woke, you believe that:

  • Saying that people should be judged by the content of their character rather than the color of their skin is racist.
  • White people who perform African-American spirituals or sing the “Black National Anthem” are engaging in cultural appropriation, and are racists.
  • When a black man who commits a crime is arrested by a white cop, that cop is a racist. The white prosecutor who prosecutes him is a racist. White members of the jury who vote to convict him are racists.
  • The fact that the number of black nuclear physicists in America is lower than the proportion of blacks in the general population is proof that STEM teachers are racists, university administrators are racists, and companies in the nuclear tech industry are systemically racist.

And so on. Readers can supply additional examples — we all know the drill.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

The image at the top of this post shows a pack of Rastus Cigars (barely legible motto: “Dey sho am da finess tasin!”) from about 1927. The depiction of Rastus is undeniably racist. But, as the late Lou Reed said, “Those were different times.” Perhaps this Rastus is an accurate representation of the way white people perceived blacks in those days.

In any case, the product is fascinating. Was it marketed primarily to black people? Or did white people smoke Rastus Cigars, too?

Unfortunately, under a woke regime, the investigation of such topics will be forbidden. Discussions like mine will not be allowed. If the wokerati can manage it, the WAYCIST artifacts themselves will be destroyed.

If I remember correctly, back in the 1950s, before videotape was invented, proto-woke studio executives ordered the archival celluloid originals of Amos ’n’ Andy permanently destroyed. A politically incorrect relic like myself views this appalling act as a crime, but to the woke cadres it merits joyous celebration, and is a harbinger of things to come.

In the digital age, the total destruction of deprecated artifacts is much easier. Entire genres can be all but wiped out fairly easily if the mandarins of Big Tech put their minds to the task.

However, as Lao Tzu said (Chapter 55 of the Tao Te Ching):

This is not the way of Tao.
Whatever is contrary to Tao will not last long.

The forces of wokedom have been granted their fifteen minutes, and are currently using it to beaver away at the roots of our “racist” civilization, hoping to destroy it.

How much of it will be left when their time is up is an open question.

15 thoughts on “Woke This Mornin’, Feelin’ Round For My Shoes

  1. Baron writes that the depiction of Rastus is “undeniably racist”. Now when I was growing up that adjective meant: to attribute necessary mental characteristics to a person on the basis of ethnicity. Of course, in 2021 the word is highly elastic.

    So I am trying to see how the depiction is racist. Now what it does do is caricature, that is, the physical features e.g. lips, nose that make a West African different from a Jay Gatsby are exaggerated. Except that Scott Fitzgerald tells us in the novel that Gatsby was of Jewish origin and flying under the radar, as it were, but I digress.

    Some might say that the racism, via sarcasm, consists of the black man being dressed in upper class clothes viz. top hat and wing collar. But then again, I imagine those clothes were to be seen worn by blacks in Harlem nightclubs in the 1920s?

    It is possible that Baron has fallen victim to the pre-woke liberal narrative that one must not comment on or depict racial differences because we are said to be all the same under the skin and drawing attention to what all can see fosters prejudice.

    • No, what’s happening is that the Baron sees the grotesque exaggeration of the facial features, and knows that they are intended to be insulting, because he understands their cultural context, which is his own culture, and from a time that was not all that many years before he was born.

      • DNA research reveals that the humans who left Africa interbred with other hominids; black Africans are therefore the purest homo sapiens, and the rest of us mongrels. Hitler would have hated it.

        Good luck with the racism!

        • And the Chinese or Japanese or Koreans? I am against the Muslim ideology. It is a known verifiable fact that the Muslim follows a plan of action to convert enslave or destroy humanity. There is no Muslim race.

          • The people who migrated into Europe and SW Asia didn’t all stop there; some even walked into the Americas when there was a land bridge.

            Indeed there is no Muslim race; nobody here is suggesting that.

          • The “out of Africa theory” has been well and truly debunked over and over again. There are literally dozens of sites available for anyone clouded to update with. Just key in “out of Africa theory debunked”. Ok?

  2. I attended UCLA in the early 1970s. I remember the publication Gidra, named after the three-headed dragon-monster whom Godzilla has to fight in the mid-1960s Kaiju film, “Monster Zero.” I recall the cover of one edition, which reproduced a comic-book page from the early 1960s or even of the 1950s. It came from one of those war comics like “Sgt. Rock.” It depicted the overwhelming of a Japanese pillbox during the island campaign in WWII. The Japanese soldiers, bucktoothed and with round, wire-framed spectacles, shouted “AYEEEEEE” as the American victors burst through the lines to gun them down. An entire article inside that number of Gidra was dedicated to the “racist meaning” of the cry, “AYEEEEEE,” as attributed to Japanese-in-uniform during the Pacific phase of the Second World War.

    I doubt whether Gidra had much traction. There was a large Nisei population in Southern California, including Santa Monica, where I attended high school. I even dated a girl of Japanese extraction for a time. She introduced me to sushi, for which I remain indebted to her. I never had the sense that my Japanese-descended friends regarded themselves as put-upon in any way.

  3. “The UK Government maternity leave law for ministers that would have referred to ‘pregnant people’ has u-turned. My God what a bloody mess trying to get organised to meet the needs of a major civil or other war. Who the hell is who? Doomversity.

  4. Shaun Bailey, who happens to be be black, looks like a real possibility to replace the current
    Mayor of London. As he is not a Muslim there will be no doubt or question about his loyalty and desire to do the right thing.

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