The new college year has begun. Time to finally say goodbye to the word woke, argues columnist Hicham El Ouahabi. ‘The art of genuine conversation seems to be slipping through our fingers, while we embrace various new designations and labels in return.’
It's September. A new academic year has begun, which feels like a new January - a time of new wishes and goals. Amid this renewed energy, I have a personal wish: the gradual disappearance of the word ‘woke.’
Talk of ‘woke’ or ‘wokeness’ has suddenly become commonplace even in our academic environment. And no, this is not with a positive connotation, but rather a negative one. Or rather, it has an air of mystery around it. For some, it functions as a synonym for rambling on, occasionally as a swear word, and sometimes as an argument. By contrast, others embrace it as a proud identification in the fight against social injustice, which they express, for example, by walking away or rhythmically knocking on benches. In short, it is a source of confusion.
My focus is not so much on the content of a specific struggle against social injustice, nor on alleged injustices that may or may not be there. There are people solely dedicated to that. Nor does the problem for me lie in the desire to fight social injustice or express dissent, but in the loss of the ability to talk and listen to each other. The art of genuine conversation seems to be slipping through our fingers, while we embrace various new designations and labels in return.
‘With fresh beginnings, I hope the word ‘woke’ loses its grip on our academic environment.’
With new beginnings, I hope the word ‘woke’ loses its grip on our academic environment, regardless of whether it is used positively or negatively. This word simply does not do justice to the complexity of the reality in which we find ourselves. It demonstrates a weakness of inability to adequately express thoughts and feelings in words. It is a ghost appearance that clouds our thinking and undermines our ability to communicate clearly.
In an academic environment, where it comes down to the exchange of ideas in a safe manner and the advancement of knowledge, we should instead strive for clarity and precision. Not a crazy wish, right? Then again, who knows, maybe this will be called ‘woke’ now. In any case: Cheers to the new academic year!
Hicham El Ouahabi is a law student. He writes a monthly column.