Carnes: I’m awake, but not woke |

Carnes: I’m awake, but not woke

I am aware of most issues facing Americans today, and a little bit more of issues facing us here in Happy Valley, but I’m not what one would call “woke.”

Woke used to be the past tense of awake, as in, “I woke up this morning” as opposed to saying, “I awaked this morning,” which just sounds silly.

But lately the term has become both a rallying cry by one side claiming the ultimate awareness of social injustices like racism and the ultimate insult by the other side claiming it proves the exaggeration of identity politics is an extreme form of racism.

So which is it?

Honestly, I don’t care, as it all boils down to a Blue Team versus Red Team, Left versus Right, good versus evil, black versus white, yada-yada-yada, with “woke” simply being the latest buzzword one thinks helps make their point. Both sides are so busy trying to cancel each other culturally that in my mind they simply cancel each other out permanently.

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While loosely defined, the “woke” cult of social justice crusaders is on par with the “non-woke” cult of evangelicals, both engaging with religious zeal to slam and shame all who disagree with their viewpoints, no matter how narrow.

This of course does not minimize the reality of the issues involved, as awareness is the first key to solving problems, but being “woke” is just a symbol of activism to some and a symbol of pointless concern to others.

To me, the woke Black Lives Matter crowd is fighting racism, the woke MeToo crowd is fighting sexism and the still asleep TrumpWon crowd is fighting reality.

Is Vail Resorts a woke company?

Again, I don’t care as long as VR does what it thinks is best for its people. Not the stockholders, but the employees, and raising the minimum wage last week was a good step forward.

If you want to use woke with pride to show how aware you are or want to use it to poke fun, at least have the integrity to be open-minded toward the issues and willing to become more informed beyond the limitations of political polarization.


I am woke to our lack of rainfall and dwindling snow totals.

I am aware of our woeful lack of affordable housing for workers, thus causing extreme employee shortages at restaurants, hotels and any other place of business requiring help around here.

I am happily reminded that some take offense to using the word “cute” when referencing a hospital nurse that I have no recollection of but thanks to my wife had a short description provided for a column.

I am cognizant that making fun of Texans skiing in scotch-guarded Levi’s can be construed as an insult, but I don’t care because it’s funny.

I am sensitive that calling someone a “Karen” or a “Chad” is to imply they are being a nosy, entitled busy-body, but I don’t care because it’s funny (apologies to friends named Karen and Chad).

I am heedful that the vaccinated are walking magnets and that Jeffery Toobin was reinstated, but I understand neither.

I am also aware that if we stopped vehicular traffic in Vail Village we could have our “Common Consumption Zone” back.

Either way, claiming awareness of issues only has as much meaning as the actions taken to help solve them, for without doing so is no different than the person stepping over an empty beer can on Bridge Street while thinking, “Damn, someone should pick that up,” and then strolling along on their merry way.

Richard Carnes, of Avon, writes weekly. He can be reached at

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