Being ‘woke’ is eye-opening. Being ‘awake’ is heart-opening.
today at 8:00 am
I knew just about every familiar slur hurled at the Polish kids in my class at Passaic Senior High School. Ditto the adaptations for the Italian kids. And the dozen or so especially demeaning insults reserved for blacks and Asians. Plus the unique taunts set aside for the artsy classmate who couldn’t throw a ball worth a crap.
No doubt I used them all. They were part of the vocabulary of the time, common-usage words that identified the members of an ethnic minority branded by its differences; words that were particularly hurtful when they landed on a kid who didn’t feel different at all.
I also know every demeaning, hateful, denigrating insult ever slapped in the face of Jews since the reign of Emperor Constantine in 337AD. Reading “The Merchant of Venice” as a son of Shylock made English class an ignominious nightmare and the walk to my seat a mortifying gauntlet of slander and spital.
That was the culture that existed ‘back then.’
Thankfully in the years that have passed I and an evolving zeitgeist have had our eyes opened wide. The views we accepted without a second thought when we saw the world of our careworn parents’ limited horizons, have expanded. We have grown in understanding how and why prejudicial attitudes were formed, and as we expanded our outreach, outlooks changed.
Over the course of time I evolved. It’s taken decades but I no longer am a troglodyte. I am “woke.” Before its demise last April I really did read Playboy for the articles.
So my question is, would it be fair to report me to the MeToo police based on my lustful comment at the seventh grade, co-ed swimming party when Helene Newman wore a bikini that revealed the hormonal maturity of a Playboy cover girl?.
A young African American journalist named Alexi McCammond stood at the sharp point of that query with her new job as editor-in-chief of Teen Vogue dependent on the answer. Accomplished at just 27 years old she had worked at Axios covering the 2018 midterms and Joe Biden‘s 2020 presidential campaign. She could be seen often as a contributor on MSNBC and NBC and the National Association of Black Journalists named her its emerging journalist of the year.
But then some racist and homophobic tweets were unearthed and McCammond was toast after social media outcry and several staffers at the magazine demanded she be ousted. “Unearthed” is the right word, the tweets in question were buried in her teenager’s hard drive, written when she wasn’t old enough to vote.
McCammond already had adamantly apologized for the tweets in question years ago, calling them idiotic, harmful and racist. And she had acknowledged having written them to Conde Nash management during her interview for the job. To no avail. She was forced to resign.
As I see it, as a traveler on the road to redemption, these woke witch hunters are blind to what is at stake. They are mistaking a teachable moment as a time for a self-righteous tar brushing. If they truly were awake to what is needed in today’s tectonic shifts in cultural and societal values, they would opt for compassion and open their hearts to forgiveness.
We all evolve from our high school years. Working a real job or perhaps going to college provides a different worldview. We take on responsibilities and become adults. Undoubtedly that was Ms. McCammond’s arc after attending the University of Chicago before joining Axios.
https://4fc4b41b7778186697a333547f5aeba8.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html She made amends. She took responsibility. Cancel culture should not have taken away her second chance. What is the point of sewing a scarlet A on her work apron?
I hope a clear thinking company hires Alexi McCammond. She’s earned the right to validate her rehabilitation.