In early August, grammy-winner Beyonce was criticized for using “spaz” on her album, Renaissance. Critics blasted the celebrity, stating that the word was an “ableist” slur. The amount of backlash made Beyonce change the lyrics, removing the phrase entirely from her song. This is not the first time woke culture has made a scene. However, when is woke too woke?
What is Woke Culture?
So, where did woke culture come from? Prior to 2010, woke was defined as being self-aware of social injustice. It was applied in a variety of ways, including being used to insult an individual whose thoughts on racial equality change dramatically after finding out about historical injustices.
However, the term began to change as it was used by Black Lives Matter and other movements. “Woke” started being tied to left-wing politics and movements. In 2017, the Oxford dictionary added “woke” to its definitions. According to Oxford, woke is “aware of social and political issues, especially racism.”
While being aware of social injustice is important, woke culture has gone beyond self-awareness. Instead, the culture is focused on turning words into slurs.
Turning Words into Slurs
While the meaning of words changes over time, it seems like the woke culture is trying to change regular words into slurs. Since 1965, spaz has been a slang term for spastic and used to define someone as inept or clumsy. While it is associated with spasms and hypertonic muscles, it never was derogatory towards a condition.
In addition, there are other words that have been labeled as offensive or derogatory. In 2020, the University of Michigan Information and Technology Service released a list of offensive words with inclusive alternatives. Some of these “offensive” words include:
- Long Time, No See
- “Hey, Guys!”
- “Man Hours”
Even using the term “blacklist” is offensive. These words are not derogatory or slurs, yet they are considered offensive because they have the potential to offend. This focus on impact instead of intention is causing more harm than good.
Woke Culture is Hurting, Rather than Helping
Woke culture is focused on harm-based morality. It does not matter the intentions. If the identified group is offended by another person, that individual has committed an act of bigotry. This type of mindset is harmful as it does not distinguish between good and bad intentions. Beyonce used the word “spaz” in her song, but it was not malicious. However, critics called the lyric an “ableist slur” because it offended the identifying group.
Instead of correcting or bringing attention to social injustice, woke culture is hurting people by accusing them of bigotry for using certain words. It fuels cancel culture movements, attacking people who the mob thinks are not “woke” enough. As a result, woke culture is inhibiting people’s abilities to use their First Amendment rights.
Woke culture is harmful and antagonistic, turning regular words into horrible offenses. While some words deserved exposure for being offensive, many of these words are not derogatory. Words matter, but the woke culture is more about punishment and control than it is about protecting anyone.