Flat White

What’s woke this week?

18 May 2021

6:30 PM

18 May 2021

6:30 PM

The overarching theme of this week’s woke stories is diversity and inclusion from the tiniest insect to multi-billion dollar corporationsWhite privilege and bus-stop seating are joined by matters non-binary and artistic, in the loosest possible sense.  

Non-binary redefine-ery

You may have missed it because, well, most of them don’t really make much noise, but an ant roar recently swept the globe as the approximately 1 quadrillion ants (give or take a few billion) alive on earth joined together to applaud the naming of a new ant species 

OK, not really, but they would have if they’d known about it because this one is ground-breaking 

It’s the first animal species to be given a non-binary name. The Ecuadorian miniature trapdoor ant has been called Strumigenys ayersthey in ’recognition of non-binary people and a celebration of gender diversity. 

Is the ant non-binary? Well of course not. Only one specimen was found, a female. And since she was ultimately preserved in ethanol, her views on the subject were probably not canvassed.  

Has it been named after someone who ‘identifies’ as non-binary? No again. Strumigenys is a genus of ants and ayersthey  is named after Jeremy Ayers, an artist and human rights activist, who was gay.   

Is this a load of virtue-signalling, diversity-embracing codswallop? You bet. 

Study author Dr Douglas Booher of Yale University  said: 

Moving forward the “they” can and should be used as a suffix to new species for those that want to be identified outside of the gender binary.

All ant workers are female and non-reproductive in most cases, so there wasn’t anything special about the ant’s biological sex per se. Because it was such a cool find, I wanted to celebrate this ant with a name that celebrates all biological diversity, which includes diversity among individuals, gender included.

It’s a pity that it took a bunch of white male scientists to set them free but thank goodness all those marginalised gender-diverse ants can now live an authentic life free from toxic labels and stereotypes.  

Pretty soon they’ll all be eschewing their omnivorous existence in favour of veganism. 

Art attack

The perpetually naked (and obviously non-binary) emperor of post-modern conceptual art is still suffering from the delusion that he/she/they are sumptuously clothed. The shortlist of finalists for the 2021 Turner Prize was recently announced and it’s everything we’ve come to expect from this annual orgiastic ovation to contemporary art 

The prize was not awarded last year due to Covid but the 2019 prize money was split between all four finalists after they begged the judges not to choose a single winner. All hail those unselfish little social justice darlings! Or, and I’m just spit-balling here, maybe a quarter of £40,000 and the resultant publicity for their individual social justice causes was worth more in the hand than zilch in the bush.  

This ‘collective’ approach obviously struck a chord with the judges, who decided that ‘artistic ensembles’ would be the focus this year.  

The shortlisted candidates this year include  jazz hands, please, no drum rolls  a collective of ‘neurodiverse artists and: 

[A] group founded by and for a “community of queer, trans and non binary people of colour involved in art, sound and radical activism”.

The front runner however, is Cooking Sectionsa duo that put a table in a tidal zone off the Isle of Skye to grow oysters and serve meals of molluscs and seaweed.   

I shouldn’t have to explain their ‘artwork’s’ purpose, Why, anyone can see that: 

Their installation seeks to address “how to eat as humans change climates”, arguing that the cycle of seasons is “Eurocentric” and needs reexamination.

Should be interesting to see how they manage to set up that exhibit at the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum in Coventry. 

And how is this art? Well, your guess is as good as anyone’s in relation to an award whose previous winners include a white room with a blinking lightbulb, a sheep in formaldehyde and a soiled, unmade bed.   

I suggest you turn instead to the artworks of the counter-art culture Turnip Award. At least they’re funny.   

Disney-lala-land 

Last week saw the exposure of an entertainment mash-up that sounds like fun on paper but loses greatly in the translation to reality. Disney has finally gone ‘Looney Tunes’, but not in a good way. There’s no little black duck or rascally rabbit in sight. Instead the powers-that-be at Disney have thrown off the shackles of white supremacy and want their employees to embrace diversity and inclusion and ‘Reimagine Tomorrow’.  

Journalist Christopher Rufo detailed the company’s promotion of ‘equitable outcomes’ rather than ‘equality of opportunity’ through a 21-Day Racial Equity and Social Justice Challenge, a program for which they sponsored the development. In it employees are asked to confront their white privilege through a lengthy checklist that includes statements such as ‘My parents are heterosexual’, ‘I have never been shamed for my body type’, ‘I have never been cyber-bullied for any of my identities’, ‘I have never worked as a waiter, barista, bartender or salesperson’, and ‘I consider myself to be physically attractive’ as shocking markers of white privilege.  

They encourage participants to move away from the norm of a white dominant culture in which ‘white fragility goes unchecked’, ‘those who bring up discomfort for others are scapegoated’, ‘if it’s written down in any way other than “Standard American English” it’s seen as incorrect or less intelligent’, and ‘politeness is valued over honesty’.  

For a company with such a close business relationship with China (their movie Mulan was made in a city which houses concentration camps for Uighurs, and the movie’s credits thanked the ruling Chinese Communist Party for its participation), this recent concern for diversity and inclusion seems a little tin-eared.  

And then there’s the rather inconvenient truth about Disney’s executive leadership team. It comprises Robert Iger, Bob Chapek, Alan Bergman and Alan BravermanAnything homogenous about that list? Plenty of frogs but no black princesses, Pocahontases or Mulans. And no sign of giving up any of that ‘white privilege’. 

Seems like equity doesn’t quite make it as far as the white boys’ club in charge. 

Woke wheels 

In a display of virtue-signalling par excellence a Galway City councillor got wheelchair users’ wheels spinning and homeless advocates raging this week when she announced her request for more inclusive seating at public transport stops around the city.  

The seats with cut-out spaces (see the images on her Facebook post) have obviously been designed to prevent rough sleepers from using them (commonly known as hostile architecture by homeless advocates) but Councillor Clodagh Higgins promoted them instead as ‘wheelchair accessible’ despite the fact that wheelchairs, as well as being mobile, are, actually, um… seats and can be placed at either end of the bus stop seats.  

Never let the truth get in the way of a woke story. 

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