Woke

Back at the first of the month, the CBC ran an opinion piece entitled Words and phrases you may want to think twice about using. I read the article with interest and thought about the message. The author had reached out and got opinions from various parts of society in research for the story.

I appreciated the message and, as an educator, could understand why I wouldn’t want to use most of those words in a class in front of students. That’s always the acid test for educators. While there are times when we think that students aren’t listening, it only takes one misstep to have that revisit you over and over.

I understood the message and I don’t think that I use many of the words in the list anyways and appreciated the context. All in all, I thought that it was an important piece to read and left it at that. I do recall sharing it to my networks because it seemed like one of those things that was worthwhile reading and thinking about.

Since that time, however, I’ve read three responses from traditional right wing media sources that reached out and jumped all over the message. I’m not going to include links to the articles because I don’t want to promote the message at any level. I’m sure that, if you’re really interested, you could find them easily enough. I’m not naive enough to think that it doesn’t stop there.

Actually, I’m positive that there are more because I did do a quick search.

In all three of the articles that I read, the authors took some liberties with even the title of the post. Instead of “you may want to think twice about using”, toughened the language to read “words you can’t say” and then went off on that particular tangent.

I was so offended.

First, that someone would take the original intent of the article and shoot the premise down as the focus of their own opinion piece. The whole notion that the use would offend some went completely ignored. Secondly, the media where these messages were posted are open for reply by anyone who wanted and quite a few people wanted to jump in.

I get that the intent of the articles was to sell media. These days, shock value is sometimes needed to make sure that cages are being rattled. Normally, I just pass by messages like this but the fact that they were written and even published goes way beyond that. Quite frankly, I’m disgusted that there are people that would take the time to extend that conversation. I thought that “we” were better than that.

I remember an elementary school teacher once telling us that language was something that was always growing and evolving. She confessed that some of the things that we were learning then would change as we grow older. When I go back to the original post and consider the words, I get it.

If it’s considered being “woke”, a word in itself that has a new meaning today beyond the idea that my mother “woke” me up to go to school, then I guess this new meaning applies to me.

3 thoughts on “Woke

  1. Thanks, Doug. This is something that is an ongoing learning process for me. I am a bit of a linguistics fan, and the way language evolves fascinates me. There are words here that I am still working on – tone deaf was pretty frequently part of my vocabulary, until someone let me know that it was ableist language. The more we know, the better we can do.

    Liked by 1 person

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