An Open Letter To The Woke.
Forgive me for beginning so abruptly, but what you’re most confused about is who you are. This isn’t an attack, just a fact. I mean go ahead, who are you? Can you express it in words? Exactly. You have a name and family. Maybe you have a job. You look a certain way. Your genitals have a certain…character. You have beliefs and doubts, hopes and aspirations. And deep down you know none of that really touches the truth of you. Stop me if I’m getting any of this wrong.
So anyway, because you’re confused about who you are, and because you realise that none of the things on this or any other checklist can possibly get to the heart of who you are, you try to make one of the things into something more important than it is. You turn insignificant details into centrepieces in your identity.
Your gender, your beliefs, the colour of your skin. Instead of remaining small, peripheral aspects of your splendour as they should, you convince yourself that they actually say something about you. You might even meet other people who are similarly confused. Together you encourage each other to step deeper into this delusion. You give each other a sense of belonging. These little details come to define your sense of self so completely that you can’t understand who anybody who shares them can think differently to you. “They must be confused,” you tell yourself. They might be, of course, lots of people are confused about lots of things, but we’re talking about you here.
Where was I? Oh yes, now that you’ve confused your characteristics with yourself, it begins to feel as if anybody who’s questioning them is attacking you. Not an aspect of you, but you at your core. You’re clear that discrimination based on these characteristics is wrong, we can all agree on that, but recognising that they should be irrelevant doesn’t feel right either. How can they be irrelevant if they’re you? You become trapped in a loop where these immutable characteristics are simultaneously the most important thing about you, and something you wish people would stop focusing on. If they stop focusing on them, what are you? If they continue to focus on them, you continue to be “othered”.