Ah, pa-woke lang ‘yan!”
You’ve probably seen this sentence before somewhere.
The word “woke” used to be held to such High Esteem™ and now it’s being thrown around condescendingly by trolls online. Remember when “being woke” just meant being educated on social issues?
Almost everybody knows what “woke” means. The word has been attributed to the #BlackLivesMatter movement that started back in 2013, although it has existed in the vocabulary of activists long before that, and has made its way into mainstream slang in recent years, including onto Manila Twitter.
When “woke” is used in a condescending way, it’s usually a reaction to criticism. A Twitter search for “pa-woke” shows a disappointing amount of people using that term to refer to people who “don’t mind their own business” or those who “have to be right.” It’s a common argument against those who try to engage in conversations about important issues. Some people take things personally, and may view someone else’s words as an attack on who they are as a person. In a conservative country like ours, it’s also difficult for some people to publicly talk about their issues or have healthy discourse. We’re not ones to air out topics that are complex or delicate, given our reputation for being non-confrontational.
Rather than “being smart”, wokeness is about standing up for people who may not have the capacity to defend themselves. It’s about bringing to people’s attention the struggles of the marginalized, of those they may have overlooked. Yes, it means people butting in and telling you How It Really Is, but they do so in the interest of equal rights.
It’s understandable though, how wokeness had gotten such a bad rep, and why it’s used as an insult, considering the fierce and ongoing debate of whether or not callout culture, and the pressure to always know what’s up, are truly toxic things.
Bandwagon hate is dangerous if you have ZERO idea why a person is being hated on. Hate can be even more harmful if you don’t know the whole story, which can lead to some people blindly participating in hashtags like #____IsOverParty and #_____IsCancelled. Automatically cancelling people for their problematic acts without educating them is problematic in itself. Yes, it’s absolutely necessary to stop supporting people who display the same bad behavior again and again but it’s also important to help those who are willing to change through the process.
Even if it’s hard, we still need to do our best and try to have these discussions. Brushing aside topics that “don’t affect us naman” is dangerous because it promotes the idea that we shouldn’t care about other people’s struggles if they don’t directly concern us.
Staying woke and being socially aware is hella important, because how else can we progress into the future? We need to take woke back to what it really means to keep ourselves, and others, informed about what’s happening in our society. Ultimately, it’s down to us.