Critics can’t agree on what “woke” means. Going back a bit into our history is the idea of Black people being “woke” from the oppression of the white man and what we, as a society, can do about it. But the term has been appropriated for a variety of left-wing causes.
On the other side of this is MAGA, which is short for "Make America Great Again," former President Donald Trump's campaign slogan. What is this MAGA movement, and what does it mean to be in it?
Like woke, being MAGA is also hard to define.
Most political movements have difficulty defining themselves, and finding the right label has been a challenge.
For example, I’m a libertarian republican, but hawkish -- a contradiction in our basic political terminology. Just as calling me MAGA would be inaccurate, so perhaps, too, is calling me conservative, depending on who’s talking at any given moment.
The woke idea has been appropriated mainly by white liberals at the expense of Black people and has come with such force because the authoritarian tendencies from the left leave you woke or out of the crowd.
The white liberal political groupthink that comes with the term, and the movement for transgender rights, a mainly trendy white issue, continues to transform as white people exploit civil rights for white aims. Woke, at this point, varies from non-racist or even anti-racist to acculturate leftist movements that have little to do with whether I’m going to be gunned down by police while eating a donut.
Like woke, MAGA has become a word and a movement taken from its small-government, dovish roots and hijacked, not from liberal authoritarian whites but Christian nationalist authoritarian whites and/or the alt-right.
Instead of reveling in shrinking the government and protecting borders, MAGA has become a rallying cry for a minority of white conservatives who see a browning America and want to make adjustments to the racial harmony of the country. Some commenters at the Charlottesville, Virginia, rally went so far as to advocate for a country that is 85% white and Christian. Where does that come from? Trump certainly never suggested anything like this.
Woke and MAGA appear to be at odds with each other, but they have some similarities in goals that are worth noting. Not to silence the cries of Black people with legitimate complaints, MAGA wants more police training and more funding for law enforcement. If the left thinks more money will fix the schools, why won’t it fix the police? Why is it anti-woke to even suggest it?
At the heart of the Black community are serious deficits in education. Like the GOP before it, MAGA seeks to push hard for school vouchers -- not because white donors can’t afford it, but because too many Black students can’t. They want those kids in school with their own kids, and the right-wing fight against the soft segregation of public school districts is noteworthy and important.
While we’ll continue to hear authoritarians try to use terminology and labels to divide the public by race, religion and partisanship, we must remember that our struggles and hardships end up hurting us all the same, even after the division. The question we should be confronting is how these terms are used to divide us, and we should be answering it by seeing our common enemy and fighting that instead.
To be woke is to be MAGA, because both movements are about ensuring an equitable and fair society. The nation’s underclasses, across racial lines, have been abandoned by the institutions that govern us. They have been abandoned by the leaders of movements primarily interested in enriching themselves at the expense of the rest of us.
We need to ignore these labels to establish a consensus in moving America forward and finally making America great again for everyone.
Holt is a member of the Project 21 black leadership network: nationalcenter.org. He wrote this for InsideSources.com.