People who think they’re “politically woke” and who cast stones at others for petty mistakes need to get over themselves, according to former US president Barack Obama.
Speaking at the Obama Foundation’s annual summit in Chicago, America’s 44th leader was quizzed about the state of politics and activism in the country and the trouble with its growing ‘woke’ culture.
Being ‘woke’ — or being aware of and attentive to all the injustices in society — became somewhat of a catchphrase in the lead up to the 2016 presidential elections.
But Obama said those who believed being woke made them superior and untouchable were kidding themselves.
“This idea of purity and you’re never compromised and you’re politically woke, and all that stuff — you should get over that quickly,” he said.
“The world is messy. There are ambiguities. People who do really good stuff have flaws. People who you are fighting with may love their kids and share certain things with you.”
Obama said he was particularly concerned by young people thinking they could spark change by calling out people in power for petty mistakes, such as spelling and grammar errors.
“One danger I see among young people particularly on college campuses is that I do get a sense among certain young people, and this is accelerated by social media, that the way of me making change is to be as judgemental as possible about other people and that’s enough,” Obama said.
“Like if I tweet or hashtag about how you didn’t do something right, or used the wrong verb, then I consider that I can feel pretty good about myself because, ‘man did you see how woke I was, I called you out’,” Obama said, prompting laughter in the crowd.
“That is not activism, that is not bringing about change.
Great advice. Sadly I think it will fall on deaf ears.