TALES OF HUMBER: My journey in becoming more progressive

Apr 17, 2024 | OP-ED, Tales From Humber

Looking at the featured image of this story and at a lot of political discourse today the word “woke” is brought up a lot.

Prominent political figures in America, such as Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, mention it in campaign speeches like it’s an enemy to be fought.

It brings me back to my childhood in a way when videos I watched were very similar but different, instead of “woke” the term back then was Social Justice Warrior, usually abbreviated to SJW. What continued, however, was ridiculing these people.

The term is older than you might think: it’s been used since 1991 in an article to positively describe musician Michel Chartrand to signify someone who advocates for social change, according to the Washington Post.

But in the mid-to late-2010s, the term started to take a different meaning, describing someone who advocated for social change in an unattractive, unintelligent, and angry fashion, which to the people online was anyone who advocated for social change.

They were essentially the punching bags of the internet back then, with countless videos insulting them and calling their advocacy useless.

And I was one of the people who made fun of them.

The world is simple, when you’re a kid, even as a teenager. I figured things were generally fine as they were. Gay people could get married, and women and people of colour were allowed to vote. I figured their movements were obsolete in modern times.

So when I saw people protesting, shouting, fighting tooth and nail for equality, I thought, “Inequality? Where? The world is more equal than ever. What are you complaining about?”

This coupled with my general lack of understanding about how people identify gender-wise, I just figured what a person is born as is unchangeable. Anyone who spoke otherwise was just, well, loopy.

Instead of looking for any answers, I just continued getting my information from YouTubers. That was my first mistake.

I mean, many of them carried themselves far better than the “SJWs” they made fun of, calmer, dressed better and were generally more polite, so I figure there must have been a point to their words.

So what changed my mind? What happened in my life that ushered in such a drastic change?

Ironically, for all the “Anti-SJWs” talk of staying out of echo chambers, I was putting myself in one. When I stepped out of it and started making friends on the other side and talking to them, I got a better view of what they believed.

The world is indeed, by many metrics, more equal than ever, but just because we’ve come a long way does not mean we still don’t have a long way to go.

Things like transphobia, racism and sexism are still prevalent in many places, including the legal system and society in general, things that I only see now after I communicated with whom I disagreed.

Ironically enough, the “Anti-SJWs” have started showing their true colours nowadays, becoming the kind of things they accused the SJWs of being.

One of them going by “HeelvsBabyFace” went on an infamous angry rant about the inclusion of pronouns in a video game and then got made fun of by the wider community.

So, seeing all this “anti-woke” stuff going around really makes me think how long it can last.

I doubt it will remain mainstream for too long. I’m starting to see more people seeing that mindset for what it is: angry people terrified of change.

I’m glad I’m not one of them anymore.