Possum’s Handy Guide to Wokeness

Rational people in Western society have been puzzled in recent years by a series of disturbing words, some new, some old with new meanings.  Information and analysis is now available to help the ‘unwoke’ to appreciate, if not fully understand, these powerful new concepts. Our account might even interest the occasional ‘wokester’ who has a side-interest in reason. The  guide follows:

REPARATIONS

This has become a big issue in 2020. It was kicked off by black writer Ta-Nehisi Coates in a June 2014 Atlantic article. Are African Americans worse or better off than if they had remained in Africa with their ancestors ? REPARATIONS: Taking Ta-Nehisi Coates Seriously looks at the pros and cons of the idea.

MICROAGGRESSION

“Aggression means “an intent to harm”; microaggressions are usually unintentional.  What are they then?  Microaggression, Mens Rea and the Unconscious Mind and It’s All About Power explain and Blinded with Science! If civil speech is violence, what is real violence? reassures the ‘unsafe’.

COLOR-BLIND RACISM

This paradoxical idea was mooted a few years ago by scholars of race and ethnic studies. Recently it has given birth to the racism vs, anti-racism dichotomy, aka “you’re either with us or against us”. The New Racism, Part I: How ‘Race and Ethnic Studies’ Made Color Blindness a Bad Thing and The New Racism, Part II: The Sociologist’s Toolkit: Justifying Racism Through Language explain what is going on.

DIVERSITY

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (appropriately: DEI) have become a new religion among administrators everywhere, from schools and colleges to big business: “demographic diversity is a proxy for perspectival diversity…” says one historian of science. Well, no it’s not: Diversity and Inclusion of Identity Groups Often Means Uniformity and Exclusion of Ideas and  Is Diversity an Enemy of Excellence? explain why.

WHITE FRAGILITY

This has become a popular theme and a very successful book, but as social science (as opposed to propaganda), it is nonsense.  A parody, Did the Hoaxers Do Anything Wrong? shows that white fragility is a meaningless insult.

SYSTEMIC RACISM

This has become a biggie. Now systemic racism is everywhere. We all know about individual racism: how is systemic racism different? Does it even exist?  How Real Is Systemic Racism Today? , The New Racism: How activism and pseudo-science have corrupted sociology and Response to Vicky: Is racism everywhere, really?

PREJUDICE

How can we recognize prejudice? It isn’t always easy.  Is stimulus generalization prejudice, or just an automatic learning process? Offense intended? Or not? gives an example.

CRITICAL RACE THEORY

A powerful new social-justice philosophy that proves and empowers: “My ongoing general motivation for the past twenty years or so has been to help with the project of unwhitening mainstream political philosophy…” says Charles S. Mills, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the CUNY Graduate Center.  For more see…

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