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Perspective: When weaponizing 'wokeness' goes wrong

Albrecht Fietz

The expulsion of Tennessee State Representatives Justin Jones and Justin Pearson was a gross abuse of power, amongst other things. These two young African American men along with Rep. Gloria Johnson engaged in civil disobedience along with their constituents. The legislators used a megaphone to non-violently protest, and chant, after a deadly school shooting in Nashville. The shooter fired over 150 rounds, killing two teachers, a beloved custodian, and three children at a private Christian school.

While the majority conservative Republican Tennessee House stated the violation of decorum as the reason they voted these two young men out, the situation was much deeper. That became obvious when Rep. Johnson, a middle-aged white woman, was not expelled. Those brilliant scholars represented the “woke culture” Conservatives have attempted to weaponize for the last few years. The word “woke” has been used for decades in African American communities to describe someone who is informed and knowledgeable about current affairs, environmental injustice, biases, discrimination, white supremacy and other acts of injustice. For too long we have been systematically and institutionally oppressed because we were “asleep” on issues like gentrification, wealth distribution, redlining, mass incarceration, indoctrination, inequities in public education, and voter suppression. When you’re “woke,” you have understanding, empathy, facts, historical context, and speak out while acting on social issues that are plaguing our society.

Weaponizing of “wokeness” is being done by those whose power is threatened by people being educated and demanding righteousness. The Tennessee House, which is filled with aging out-of-touch men, attempted to use the essence of Jim Crow to demonstrate their authority. In the end, justice prevailed. Both Jones and Pearson were reinstated a week later by the citizens who elected them to office initially. Power to the People!!!

Born in Buffalo, N.Y., George Joseph “Joe” Mitchell was raised in DeKalb, where he is the bi-vocational co-pastor of New Hope Missionary Baptist Church.