Politically Woke


Dr. Deborah Ashton, Chief Psychologist & Learning Officer, Diversity Learning Solutions

I, too, applauded former President Obama for his stand on the ‘politically woke’ at the third annual Obama Foundation Summit in Chicago. I am sure all have seen his statement by now. Excerpt from President Obama’s statement

This idea of purity and you’re never compromised, and you’re always politically woke and all that stuff, you should get over that quickly… to be as judgmental as possible about other people, and that’s enough… That’s not bringing about change. If all you’re doing is casting stones,…

The irony is being judgmental, uncompromising and throwing the ‘first stone’ is the opposite of inclusion. By definition, being inclusive means being empathic, finding common ground and knowing that we all have biases. To paraphrase: Let he/she/ze/they without bias cast the first stone.

According to Merriam-Webster, ‘dictatorial’ is defined as oppressive to or arrogantly overbearing toward others. ‘Politically woke’ and ‘cancel culture’ wish to dictate what other people say and do.

Being inclusive is to better understand the other person’s point of view. It is understanding that diversity and inclusion is not a monologue, it is a dialogue. And when inclusion is completely inclusive, it is not a one-way street or a two-way street, it is a roundabout. We all must be respectful of the other, which means we all must yield/compromise at some point to get to our destination.

Compromise is not appeasement. To compromise is to find common ground or a middle ground—where all parties give a little to get a little. Appeasement is to give another whatever they demand. For the ‘politically woke’ not to be seen as the counterpart to the alt-right, it is important to demonstrate that the ‘woke’ embraces inclusivity and has a dialogue, which means listening to various points of view, keeping an open mind and where possible find a middle ground.

The only way to successfully navigate the roundabout is to understand that we all must yield at some point for us all to gain the right of way. We can be in a traffic jam or we can crash, or we can all successfully proceed to our destination by being willing to yield and to take our turn when we have the right of way.

Being inclusive is being open and flexible. Are you ‘woke’ enough to acknowledge your bias? Are you ‘woke’? Are you truly inclusive?