Submitted by Kevin Ashley
As the war broke out in Ukraine late last month, Steve Bannon proudly waxed poetic on how “anti-woke” Vladimir Putin is. Staying on message on Fox, Tucker Carlson also piled on, asking “Has Putin ever called me a racist? Is he teaching my children to embrace racial discrimination?” GOP Congressman Madison Cawthorn also recently said “…Zelensky is a thug. Remember, the Ukrainian government is incredibly corrupt and incredibly evil, has been pushing the ‘woke ideology’ and it really is the new ‘woke’ world.”
The war on “woke-ness” is also no stranger to Coronado. Our school board meetings have been a battleground for a local “anti-woke” group known as We the Parents Coronado (WTPC). WTPC’s new “scrubbed” website links to the websites of “Anti-Woke” leaders Christopher Rufo and James Lindsay. Mr. Rufo recently celebrated the passing of the Stop W.O.K.E. Act by the Florida State Legislature, which “prohibit schools, corporations, and government agencies from promoting race essentialism, collective guilt and racial scapegoating in the classroom or workplace.” This war on “woke-ness” and Critical Race Theory might seem normal as a result of the constant beat of the war-drum, but it is on the wrong side of history, much akin to the fight against school integration was in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1957.
Our family is multi-racial; my wife is originally from Kenya, and as such, our two children are African American. We bought our home in Coronado in 2013 and have lived here since 2016. We are proudly “woke.” For our family, to be “woke” is to simply be aware and knowledgeable of our unique history, knowing that many people have had (and continue to have) differing experiences in our country. This knowledge has been crucial to the mental health and wellbeing of our family, as this has helped us make sense of some of the racism that we have experienced here in Coronado. Whether it was being called The N Word in a Middle School hallway or being mocked by a group of six children at a CMS Cotillion event, or a shout on Orange Avenue at my wife to “take a knee” since she has a “white guy” on her arm – racism has shown its face here. Despite the good intentions and actions of many good people here in Coronado and across the country, MLK’s inspiring dream of a color-blind society remains a mirage.
We all need to learn how and why racism still exists, 156 years after the end of the Civil War. How we best do that, as parents at home or as educators in the classroom, is a worthy ‘woke’ discussion for all to have. In closing, and keeping it real, we all want academic excellence in education – but this war on “woke-ness” is nothing but a cynical attempt at “whitewashing” our history, and there is nothing academically excellent about that.