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Majority of Americans Think Being 'Woke' Is a Good Thing: Poll

Majority of Americans Think Being 'Woke' Is a Good Thing: Poll

Woke definition

Republicans are using the term as an insult, but in a new poll, many Americans beg to differ.

Republicans are casting being “woke” as a bad thing, but a majority of Americans don’t see it that way, according to a new poll.

In a USA Today/Ipsos Poll that asked respondents to choose between two definitions of the term, 56 percent chose “to be informed, educated on, and aware of social injustice.”

“That includes not only three-fourths of Democrats but also more than a third of Republicans,” USA Today reports.

Thirty-nine percent opted for the negative definition, “to be overly politically correct and police others’ words.” Fifty-six percent of Republicans chose that.

Respondents’ age made a difference. Among those aged 50 to 64, 48 percent chose the “overly politically correct” definition. Only 33 percent of those aged 18-34 did, and 37 percent of those aged 35-49.

However, respondents were divided on whether being called woke was a compliment or an insult. Overall, 40 percent considered it an insult, 32 percent a compliment. Sixty percent of Republicans and 42 percent of independents thought it was an insult. In contrast, 46 percent of Democrats deemed it a compliment. Younger respondents were more likely than older ones to see it as a compliment.

“Most Americans understand that to be woke is to be tuned in to injustices around us,” Cliff Young of Ipsos told USA Today. “But for a key segment of Republicans who make up the Trump-DeSantis base, ‘woke’ is a clear trigger for the worst of the politically correct, emerging multicultural majority.”

The term dates from the early 20th century, when Black American activists urged people to “wake up” to the reality of injustice. It came back into wide use after the police killing of Black man Michael Brown in Missouri. It has come to mean being aware of not only racism but also homophobia and transphobia.

But Republicans are using “woke” to describe everything they see as wrong with the U.S. They see being woke as undermining conservative values and making white people feel guilty. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the Stop WOKE Act into law last year; it “essentially prohibits instruction on race relations or diversity that imply a person’s status as either privileged or oppressed is necessarily determined by his or her race, color, national origin, or sex,” according to a press release from Florida state Sen. Bobby Powell, a Democrat.

Several speakers at last weekend’s Conservative Political Action Conference denounced what they see as “woke” policies, including moves to support transgender people. Donald Trump recently released a social media post saying President Joe Biden was engineering a “woke takeover” of the federal government by calling for equity and inclusion. When DeSantis won a second term in November, he proclaimed, “We will never surrender to the woke mob.”

“Even South Carolina’s Sen. Tim Scott, a Black man who discusses how racism has affected his life, has derided ‘woke corporations’ and ‘woke prosecutors’ as negative forces in American life,” USA Today notes. Scott, a Republican, is a potential presidential aspirant.

The poll also asked respondents about school lessons on racism, book bans, and the use of gender-neutral pronouns. The response on school instruction depended on how it was asked. Half of those surveyed were asked if they favored teaching about “the ongoing effects of slavery and racism in the United States,” and 72 percent said yes, including large majorities of Democrats and independents as well as nearly half of Republicans.

But the other half were asked if they support the teaching of critical race theory, “which holds that systemic racism is institutionalized in America to the advantage of white people,” as USA Today puts it. Fifty-three percent opposed it, with 41 percent supportive. Among Republicans, 81 percent opposed it.

Among all respondents, 76 percent opposed book bans by state governments. That included 86 percent of Democrats, 78 percent of independents, and 66 percent of Republicans.

A majority opposed the use of gender-neutral pronouns; the margin was 61 percent to 36 percent. Respondents opposed the use of a choice other than “man” or “woman” on government documents by the same margin.

But 61 percent of Democrats supported the use of gender-neutral pronouns, and 60 percent favored having a gender-neutral identity option. Republicans were overwhelmingly opposed, 87 percent on pronouns and 88 percent on the identity option.

The poll was conducted among 1,023 people last Friday through Sunday on the Ipsos online platform. There is a margin of error of plus or minus 3.3 percentage points.

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