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  • Jayne Stearns

Stay Woke

Updated: Jun 20

As Shakespeare did NOT say and probably never would, "To be woke or not to be woke, why should that even be a freakin' question?" And why is Elon Musk now against what seems to be all forms of 'wokeism' after having been born into the troubled midst of apartheid in South Africa?

Maybe it's the fact that Musk’s grandfather, J. N. Haldeman, was a pro-apartheid, antisemitic conspiracy theorist who blamed much of the world's problems on Jewish financiers. Although Haldeman was born in Minnesota but raised in Saskatchewan, Canada, he moved his family to Pretoria, where he became an impassioned defender of the apartheid regime two years after South Africa instituted it. So, supportive of the regime he wrote tracts praising apartheid as if it were some sort of religion. Among his tract writings on apartheid are the words: “An unconditional propaganda warfare is carried on against the White man.” These same words are echoed today in anti-woke rhetoric and the legal prohibitions against teaching 'wokism' in 15 states.

Other Haldeman writings include: “The facts of history show that the White man has always developed the country he inhabits to the benefit of all concerned,” and “The Black people of Africa have been in close contact with civilization from the earliest times but, on their own, built nothing and discovered nothing, not even the wheel.”

What a sweet guy grandpa was, eh?

Decades later, Musk followed up his grandfather's sentiments by saying:

“At its heart, wokeness is divisive, exclusionary, and hateful. It basically gives mean people a shield to be mean and cruel, armored in false virtue.”

I guess Elon thinks Martin Luther King could have dodged the bullet that blew off half his face if he hadn't been so "mean, cruel, and armored in false virtue?" Sorry, but I need to cry BS. Loudly.

What 'Woke' means

The first documented use of the phrase “stay woke” occurred in 1938 within the lyrics of a Huddie “Leadbelly” Ledbetter song about nine Black men advising Black people traveling through Alabama to “stay woke … Keep your eyes open.” Why did they need to stay 'woke'? So, they weren't arbitrarily lynched by any white man who was having a bad day.

Then, in 1940, a member of the striking Negro United Mine Workers promised that the members would “stay woke up longer” than their opposition.

Their lives depended upon staying 'woke.'

Although racism's impact on society has diminished over the years, maintaining diversity and equity requires that we remain vigilant so the ugly specter of racism is confronted and extinguished the moment it rears its ugly head. Staying 'woke' was a matter of life and death. It still is, lest we become buried again by an avalanche of racism and inequality.

In closing, maybe Musk doesn't like wokeness because the release of his first inaugural Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Impact Report in 2020 revealed that men at Tesla represented approximately 79% of the workforce, 83% of leadership, 75% of new hires, and 77% of promotions in 2020, with more than half of them pale-skinned; while Black and African American employees at Tesla represented only 10% of the workforce, 4% of leadership, 12% of new hires and 10% of promotions in 2020.

Maybe Musk doesn't like wokeness because his Tesla plant in California had its proverbial pants sued off in February 2022 for “rampant racism” at the company’s Fremont factory. In September, the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission also sued Tesla for subjecting Black workers “to severe or pervasive racial harassment.” So, tell me again, who are the hateful ones?

Maybe Musk doesn't like being woke because it costs him lots of money and time.

Numbers don't lie, but people often do. Only the worst among us lie to ourselves.

Stay woke, my friend.

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