By: Madison Johnson
The Aftermath Of DeSantis "Woke" Agenda Continues To Strike An Uproar
Florida Governor, Ron DeSantis, has had a lot of opinions since 2019. Entertaining the public, captivating Floridan conservatives, and disturbing the newer generation. However, in the past year, his most recent concerns about “the wokeness” of America have taken a place in numerous speeches and promises in the state.
The word that once had a special meaning in the Black community and culture is now a cry for help according to new-age Republicans. When did the word become such a political motif and why does DeSantis feel it makes America weak? To understand the evolution of the meaning, we must dive back to where it originated.
Spike Lee, Erykah Badu, and many prominent Black figures preached “staying woke” in their art or interviews. The word can first be traced back to Lead Belly in the 1940s in an interview about his song, “Scottsboro Boys”. It was then that the phrase “stay woke” or “wokeness” gained its meaning of being socially aware and cautious within the Black community. As of today, the expression has been used in many pieces of Black culture. ‘Stay woke’ is similar to a secret message that is passed through the black community through song, writing, and other forms of language.
The message acts as a tap on the shoulder saying to “watch out and remember who we are, and where we are.” ‘Stay woke’ is another one of those proprietary mementos within a community that pulls people together on a common misfortune. However, today, “stay woke” has a lot less to do with Black people and everything to do with politics.
As the term became more mainstream, wokeness began to be associated with other social agendas. It could be about any person targeted within society. To stay woke now meant to be aware of all racial and social facts and issues. People started to become woke pertaining to sexuality and gender, economic classes, and all things political.
“Staying woke” has the political parties held at an expectation that some things will change. Concerns about correctness in civics, policing, and proper laws are held under a different microscope now that people are waking up and being more aware than they have ever been.
Political figures haven't been all that receptive. There has been a newfound resistance to “wokeness”.
The Republican party has predominantly associated the word “woke” with the Democratic party. The Democratic party views the word woke as a token of acceptance as the majority of Americans, 78% being Democratic, see “woke” as a positive term that raises awareness of everyone. However, there is a section of America, that is predominately Republican, that views woke as an overbearing concept that shackles people to an ideology of redundant mindfulness. They view the concept as a virus to important American cultural values as “wokeness” often leads to being “canceled”.
To the Republican party woke means weak and they are using this message to sway audiences for the 2024 Presidential candidate. Some figures have a heavier disdain for the word than others, Ron DeSantis being one of the heavy hitters.
Woke Dies In Florida
According to DeSantis, “Florida is where ‘woke’ goes to die.” DeSantis has been fighting wokeness within the state for months, suppressing the education of what the term stands for, mainly in the classrooms.
DeSantis has even gone as far as to create an entire agenda in abolishing “wokeness” with his “Stop WOKE Act.”
The “Stop WOKE Act” or the “Stop the Wrongs to Our Kids and Employees Act” is a law that says that the Florida Department of Education is prohibited from teaching critical race theory in schools. The entire act is saying that when historic injustices are taught in schooling, it creates a sense of guilt that cannot be accounted for. To avoid this dispute of what falls under political correctness or not, the subject itself should be stripped from K-12 educational institutions.
According to DeSantis in 2021, woke is “a form of cultural Marxism”. DeSantis believes that the act of being “woke” has America tearing at one another, correcting one another, and ultimately dividing us. DeSantis says it makes the country weak and something needs to change. So, he decided to make as many adjustments as he could.
In 2022, DeSantis pushed for a 15-week abortion ban which caused an uproar in the state not only among civilians but political figures as well. State attorney, Andrew Warren, was suspended by DeSantis for a violation of the ban. Warren refused to prosecute those seeking abortions as well as gender-affirming care. DeSantis wasn’t having it and pushed the fact that Warren refused to do his duty.
DeSantis fighting abortion and gender-affirming care feeds into his ideology that it should not be necessary to accommodate minorities in America. According to Ryan Newman, DeSantis’ general counsel, DeSantis doesn’t align with Woke in the slightest. Newman says. “I don’t think he shares the view that you know, our society is fundamentally unjust and needs policies to correct that systematic injustice.”
Just like “woke” didn’t end with the awareness in the Black community, DeSantis doesn’t stop at critical race theory, and it doesn’t slow down at banning abortions.
Disney -Vs- DeSantis
As of today, Desantis is still at it with his anti-woke movement and it has taken a new target. The happiest place on earth. Disney and DeSantis “are at odds” because DeSantis feels that one of Florida’s largest employers is violating his authority.
In March of 2022 the “Don’t Say Gay Bill” was born. The bill prohibited all discussions and spaces of sexuality and gender in certain elementary school grades. DeSantis strikes again against the woke ideology now covering another social group, the LGBTQ community. He now pursues the coverage of prohibition at higher levels of education.
Disney had a few things to say. Disney employees were encouraged to join the protests and Bob Chapnek, the previous CEO, had a list of criticisms about the bill. DeSantis has been seen on Fox News calling Disney “Woke Disney” and it is very clear how DeSantis views the doctrines of the company and the members of society they support.
Disney has made it clear that they are in complete support of the LGBTQ community as the company has a multitude of corporate policies. Disney also recognizes that they are not the only corporate voice DeSantis is at odds with, following his belief system, any company that stands firm in its disagreement with DeSantis’ values is his enemy.
Expectations For The Future:
So, What Now?
Well, DeSantis has taken new sights to a larger horizon. According to the governor, he is planning on participating in the 2024 Presidential election. DeSantis plans to lead “our great American comeback”.
Speculators pieced together that the reason he’s pushing back his legal business with Disney until after the election is to milk this dispute with them as much as he can, to boost him in the running. He also has a lower risk of being affected by his court rulings in the running if he puts Disney off. Disney however, made it clear that they won’t be pushed around.
Many are concerned that a presidential candidate that doesn’t believe there are any systemic injustices in America is dangerous. The idea of a president that desires to cover up the truth about the country to avoid “guilt” and sweep social issues under the rug has people feeling America is walking backward.
As for DeSantis’ opinion on woke. He may have Florida in a chokehold, however, time will tell how well his ideologies will work on the rest of America.