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Discussion of Wokeism and CRT

By Sharon Jarrett
Posted: 11/06/2023
Tags: wokeism, crt, discussion

Notes by Sharon Jarrett

 

Due to some scheduling confusion, there was no presentation made during this meeting as anticipated. Instead, the group held an open discussion among the participants about the topics of woke-ism and critical race theory. One result of this situation is that there is a recording of the discussion which is a rare event we do not typically record discussions where there is no presentation. So this may be a standalone recording and is available for viewing on our YouTube channel as “Wokeism and Critical Race Theory”.

The discussion was very energized and involving due to the fact that all the participants have some awareness of the topics under discussion because of the constant news coverage that they receive.

The discussion began with a review of Critical Race Theory and a sharing of different understandings about the topic.  The group was comfortable in acknowledging Critical Race Theory as an academic prism by which to understand the past.  It was acknowledged that this was not a universally held concept with some individuals denying the use of the theory in academic analysis at the university level.  Some individuals in the community believe the theory was taught as a set of truths to children, while in fact the theory is employed in research and analysis at the university level in history, social studies and law. The theory was developed by Derrick Bell at Harvard.  He has written about the use of the theory in recognized academic journals.

The group then moved to the term "woke".  A participant who is African American and lives and works in the South, shared the use of the term in her family as meaning to be alert and cautious in the environment. The need for this stemming from racial discrimination and prejudice.  Beginning in 2010, the term took on a broader meaning in society. It began to be a negative term with essentially no standardized meaning.

The term was used to cast a negative light without information.  The term was then used by certain media personalities to anger and inflame.  Another participant remarked that the term had changed greatly remembering "woke" as a term for a person trying to understand the impact of discrimination on people of color and being mindful of the effects of those experiences. He recalled it being a positive term.

It was concluded that both terms are misapplied for specific purposes.  While both terms can help deepen understanding of history and social structures, they can be misused to frighten and create a sense of "other". Understanding the meaning of the terms was critical to any discussion.  The group next responded to a question about how this can be achieved.  The following suggestions emerged: know the correct definitions, be aware of how the terms are used in various settings and encourage the use of facts.  It was briefly noted that AI was making it difficult to fact check and contributed to the spread of misinformation.

The importance of facts, fact checking was reiterated by a number of personal stories regarding stereotypes and racial profiling.

The group then discussed the "Lost Cause" and the tenets of the Lost Cause as an example of the suppression of facts.  A brief discussion followed about subject matter content standards and their use in state textbook adoptions.  It was noted that the adoptions of textbooks are state specific and may not conform to the individual state content standards.  It was noted that publishers deferred to those standards of states who purchased the most textbooks.

The group returned to discussing the challenges of fact checking with a participant noting at one time there were 400,000 individuals employed as journalists.  There are now 44,000.  Most of the loss being at the community or local level.  This has significantly limited the information and investigation that occurs and limits the sources of information available.

The next meeting will be November 17th at 12:00 PM PST. It was noted that the December meetings may be affected by the holidays, but, information would be posted on any cancellations.

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