President Joe Biden issued his first veto yesterday. Here's what CNN said about it:
President Joe Biden issued the first veto of his presidency Monday on a resolution to overturn a retirement investment rule that allows managers of retirement funds to consider the impact of climate change and other environmental, social and governance factors when picking investments.
This is what the Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy had to say:
In his first veto, Biden just sided with woke Wall Street over workers. Tells you exactly where his priorities lie.— Kevin McCarthy (@SpeakerMcCarthy) March 20, 2023
Now—despite a bipartisan vote to block his ESG agenda—it’s clear Biden wants Wall Street to use your retirement savings to fund his far-left political causes.
As you can see, "woke," which began as an attack on Black Americans (the source of the expression), now also includes Wall Street portfolio managers who appreciate the hard science of climate change. Consuming fossil fuels without the end of our (human and only) world in sight is, apparently, not woke. The elasticity of this word is so extraordinary that a conservative commentator, Bethany Mandel—who makes a living (hard cash money) from describing the evils of wokenness culture on our impressionable children—collapsed into incoherence when asked on Rising, a show streaming on news website The Hill, what exactly is "woke"?
For conservatives, "woke" is one of those sneaky, snaky, snobby "gotcha questions." You must never ask what it means. The word has no meaning in a specific sense; it is better understood as a general feeling.
Woke was a positive term used by folks (mostly black) who wanted to be aware of things larger and more important than themselves and their own experiences but is clearly just a slur when used by Bethany Mandel and others. There's no reason to pretend otherwise. https://t.co/gibvcn64Mo— @ijbailey (@ijbailey) March 15, 2023
But an answer to the question the host of Rising, Briahna Joy Gray, asked the author of the money-making Stolen Youth: How Radicals Are Erasing Innocence and Indoctrinating a Generation can actually be found on CBS's popular TV show The Equalizer, which is now in its third season.
Queen Latifah is the star of the show. She plays a former US intelligence warrior who now offers her services to New York City's powerless citizens. Latifah's is the third incarnation of a character, McCall, introduced in the mid-80s, though it was clearly inspired by a TV show, Callan. In the 1970s Callan made the first McCall, Edward Woodward, a huge star in the United Kingdom and its former colonies. Denzel Washington took the second McCall to the big screen in 2014.
As for woke? One only needs to watch episodes 10 ("Do No Harm") and 11 ("Never Again") of The Equalizer's third and current season. Episode 10 has two stories. One story is about a mother whose child has a rare medical condition that her insurance is unwilling to cover, and she cannot afford. Her daughter will die because the richest capitalist society in the world has imposed a scarcity of cash on almost all of its population. The second story is about an aunt (McCall's sister-in-law) who decides to show her niece (McCall's daughter) the rich tradition of gumbo.
The desperate mother grabs the gun of an absentminded hospital security officer, takes hostages, and demands a surgeon operate on her dying daughter. The aunt introduces her niece to a Black restaurant that has, to her shock, forgotten how to make authentic ki ngombo for two reasons: the death of a Black matriarch and gentrification.
Episode 11, "Never Again," is about a neo-Nazi group that, along with churning out comic books, is planning an attack on a synagogue. In this episode, we learn about the background of one of the show's key characters, a hacker named Harry Keshegian (Adam Goldberg), from a Rabbi who nearly had the life beaten out of him by neo-Nazis.
As you can see, all of this is very woke stuff. "Do No Harm" is woke about the US's obviously broken health care system; woke on the importance of preserving Black traditions in a whitening city; and also woke about the plight of Muslim immigrants (watch the episode to see this bit of wokeness for yourself). As if matters weren't woke enough, the aunt at the center of the McCall family is a lesbian.
The episode "Never Again" is woke about the persecution of Jews, and points directly to Charlottesville (“Jews will not replace us!”). And there are at least two exchanges between key characters that attempt to make one cause of the historical struggles of Black Americans and Jewish Americans. (This unification is, by the way, the true essence of Spike Lee's 2018 film BlacKkKlansman.)
As you can see, this and much, much more in Latifah's The Equalizer is what is meant by woke. And the right's appropriation and reevaluation of the phrase must be taken seriously. Until the late 1970s, the word "Black" was as negative as woke is today. Black magic, blacklist, black sheep, and so on. A whole political and arts movement (Black is Beautiful) was needed to reclaim Blackness from the dark of white supremacy. As Black recedes, woke (a Black English expression) emerges. And so for the GOP (or America's right), everything that's positive in The Equalizer (LGBTQ rights, universal health care, racial harmony, multi-culturalism), simply becomes Black again.