via commentary:

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In 2014, after the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, the #staywoke hashtag became a digital rallying cry around Black Lives Matter activism. Then, in the Trump years, progressives freed the slogan from its BLM context and deployed it wherever needed. Which is why you’d see pieces in the New York Times such as, “In Defense of ‘Woke,’” by Damon Young. In 2017, a photo of a baby wearing a “stay woke” sign at a Women’s March event went viral.  Stacey Abrams spoke at something called the “stay woke” rally in 2018. When the pandemic hit in 2020, #stayhome #staywoke hashtags appeared on liberal Twitter. By the time George Floyd was killed by Derek Chauvin in Minneapolis, every white liberal interested in signaling his revolutionary sympathies was advertising his wokeness. As Aja Romano noted candidly in Vox in October 2020, “‘woke’ has evolved into a single-word summation of leftist political ideology, centered on social justice politics and critical race theory. This framing of ‘woke’ is bipartisan: It’s used as a shorthand for political progressiveness by the left, and as a denigration of leftist culture by the right.”

That’s right. Back then, both sides understood that wokeness had become a leftist catch-all term. Conservatives still do, but the Left decided to erase its own role in this history. Why? Because soon after 2020, wokeness became an embarrassment and a political liability. The country started to reject the widespread radical project. In November 2021, Republican Glenn Youngkin was elected governor of Virginia. At the time, Democratic strategist James Carville was asked what went wrong. “Well, what went wrong is this stupid wokeness,” he said. “Some of these people need to go to a woke detox center or something.”

But short of detox, there’s always wishful thinking. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez responded to Carville by claiming that “woke” was “a term almost exclusively used by older people these days.” The Left has been trying to fight the term ever since, pretending that it’s something cooked up by racist right wingers to discredit their opponents. As we get closer to the 2024 election, we’re going to see more of this revisionism.

h/t Ed



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