Wednesday, June 21, 2023

We need to talk about “wokeness”

"When I grow up, I want to be hired based on what I look like rather than my skills.… I want to get promoted based on my chromosomes.… I want to be offended by my coworkers and walk around of the office on eggshells."

Those are just a few of the quotes from some child actors in a viral YouTube ad for a company called RedBalloon.

RedBalloon is a job board to match anti-woke employees with like-minded employers.

Not convinced? Here's what RedBalloon says in a white paper available on its website.

With just one or two other like-minded employees, you can form a group to pursue pro-freedom change in the workplace. Your group can present petitions to management, either in writing or in person. Potential topics include repealing vaccine mandates and other COVID restrictions, where not required by law; allowing employees to opt out of LGBTQ / Pride displays; permitting expression related to Christmas or Christian belief; enhanced maternity / paternity leave (especially if the company pays for abortion travel); and allowing employees to skip training sessions that promote Critical Race Theory. 

According to RedBalloon CEO Andrew Crapuchettes, the "new ad campaign is awesome, funny, and cuts to the heart of the woke nonsense in the workplace."

As a contrast to Mr. Crapuchettes (no, I did not make up that name for dramatic effect), let me offer a different viral YouTube video, Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker's recent remarks as Northwestern's commencement speaker. Here's what he said:

Somewhere along the way in the past few years our society has come to believe that weaponized cruelty is part of some well-thought-out master plan. Cruelty is seen by some as an adroit cudgel to gain power. Empathy and kindness are considered weak. Many important people look at the vulnerable only as rungs on a ladder to the top. I'm here to tell you that when someone's path through this world is marked with acts of cruelty, they have failed the first test of an advanced society. 

It's for that reason that I reject the very concept of RedBalloon's "anti-woke" job board. 

You can think whatever you want to think and believe whatever you want to believe, but when you try to use those thoughts and beliefs to exclude certain people from your workplace by hiring likeminded "anti-wokers," you end up with a workplace that looks a certain way — white, straight, and cis. It fails the first test of an advanced society by rejecting others just for being others. I reject this as a philosophy and an employment practice.  

At its core, "woke" means "socially aware" and "empathetic." What's wrong with that? That's the kind of workplace in which I want to work … in which we all should want to work. The fact that RedBalloon even exists, however, tells me that way too many people think otherwise.