The Social Justice Blind Spot: Part 7, Woke

There's an awful lot of preaching to the choir in social justice spaces.

You host events to increase awareness, express solidarity, and organize allies, and the people who show up are those who are already educated, active and engaged. You look around the room and realize that the people who really need to hear this, the people who really need to be there, aren't there. So progressives and social justice warriors end up talking to each other, over and over, preaching to the choir.

Something like this happened on my campus recently. An awareness workshop was being offered. People who were well versed in the issues attended, and those who needed the training didn't. So a workshop devoted to raising awareness was largely attended by people who were already very, very aware. Noting this, I shared with one of the organizers, "I think people need to have a conversion experience before they'll engage with these issues."

There's a word for this "conversion experience." We call it being "woke."

Again, for the purposes of this series I don't care what you think about being "woke" and "woke culture." My point is simply to point out that being woke is a moral issue, a matter of personal conviction, accountability, and responsibility. And being woke is very similar to having a conversion experience. Like the apostle Paul's road to Damascus experience, the scales fall from your eyes. The blind now see. The sleeper awakes.

And to the point of this series, being woke isn't a systemic issue. There's no policy fix or systemic way to forcibly convert people, to make them woke. You can persuade, you can evangelize, but you can't compel people to become woke.

Becoming woke, opening your eyes and heart, is a profoundly moral journey.

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