Flat White

IT’S BACK: What’s woke this week?

18 July 2021

12:00 PM

18 July 2021

12:00 PM

Does it seem to you that rather than falling slowly like Alice, we’re gathering speed in our plunge down the rabbit hole to Wokerland? And that everyone there believes at least six impossible things, and not merely before breakfast. Violent books, pregnant men, negative encounters with sharks, and racist food and geology are our impossible woke things this week. 

Book Donnybrook

The American Booksellers’ Association each month sends a promotional selection of books to member retail outlets. July’s selection included a copy of journalist Abigail Shrier’s bestselling critical analysis of the treatment of gender dysphoria, Irreversible Damage: the Transgender Craze Seducing our Daughters 

Overwrought melodramatic Twitter feedback from woke booksellers ensued. Quelle surprise! And the ABA’s response? Pathetic, grovelling capitulation won out over a spirited defence of free speech:  

An anti-trans book was included in our July mailing to members. This is a serious, violent incident that goes against ABA’s ends policies, values, and everything we believe and support. It is inexcusable.

We apologize to our trans members and to the trans community for this terrible incident and the pain we caused them. We also apologize to the LGBTQIA+ community at large, and to our bookselling community. Apologies are not enough. We’ve begun addressing this today and are committed to engaging in the critical dialogue needed to inform concrete steps to address the harm we caused.

One could be forgiven for thinking that an army of savage books had jumped out of boxes and physically attacked hapless booksellers who were no match for their bigoted ferocity, armed as they were with only an array of pronouns and gender flags.  

Non-binary refinery

You’ve got to hand it to the people (I hope the word ‘people’ is still inclusive enough) at Unicode Consortium. You asked for it — well probably no one actually did — but they’re about to deliver new emojis crafted with love for the post-binary world, anyway. You’ll wonder how you ever managed without ‘pregnant man’ and ‘pregnant person’ in your emoji arsenal.  

The announcement on Emojipedia foreshadowed the draft emojis due for release in September: 

Pregnant Man and Pregnant Person are new, and recognize that pregnancy is possible for some transgender men and non-binary people. These are additions to the existing Pregnant Woman emoji. 

The emojis come in a pleasing array of skin tones and hair colour to prove their anti-racist creds and the ‘pregnant man’ is sporting a moustache, just so you know he’s a man, because only men have moustaches.  Wait a minute…  That can’t be right. 

Back to the woke drawing board, methinks. 

Nark attack


It turns out that Jaws, a work of fiction, wasn’t entirely accurate. Who would have thought?  

 It seems you don’t have to worry about shark attacks any more, according to Australian scientist keen to change the image of sharks as ’ravenous, mindless man-eating monsters’ (because we all thought that, didn’t we?). Now you need only be concerned about ‘incidents’, ‘interactions’ or ‘negative encounters with a shark’, depending on the scientist, or the state in which you live. Whew! What a relief! 

Here are two of my favourite quotes from scientists in the article: 

Sharks don’t have hands so, if they want to explore something, they mouth it. Very rarely are humans consumed by sharks.

‘Shark attack’ is a lie”, he said, noting that more than a third of encounters left no injury at all.  

Tell that to the ten people killed in unprovoked attacks in Australia in 2020/21.   

Now I’m all for proper education about how to be shark smart and I don’t want to sic people with pitchforks, (or perhaps tridents?) on them but when has changing language ever changed the facts?  

French lesson 

Mathilde Cohen, Professor of Law at the University of Connecticut, recently published a paper entitled The Whiteness of French Food. Law, Race, and Eating Culture in France, in which she sinks her teeth into the unbearable whiteness of French cuisine. 

The whole article can be downloaded here but the abstract’s woke logical fallacy par excellence should be enough to give you the drift:  

Food is fundamental to French identity. So too is the denial of structural racism and racial identity. Both tenets are central to the nation’s self-definition, making them difficult, yet all the more important to think about together. This article purports to identify a form of French food Whiteness (blanchité alimentaire), that is, the use of food and eating practices to reify and reinforce Whiteness as the dominant racial identity.

How dare ‘Whiteness’ be the dominant racial identity of France? 

Geology symbology 

Most people probably wouldn’t think of the scientific field of geology as the hotbed of racism that it clearly is. Thank goodness for Fort Hays State University associate professor Hendratta Ali and her colleagues who have disabused us of that notion with their recently published ‘actionable anti-racism plan for geoscience organizations’. 

The same incisive academic thinking that permeated the White French food paper is on display here with a quagmire of cant that includes: 

Racism thrives in geosciences. Geoscience organizations function alongside the same racist ideologies and practices shaping society.

So obviously that makes the organizations racist. 

Racism has led to the geosciences becoming one of the least diverse among all science and engineering fields.

Because it couldn’t be anything else, could it? 

The barriers to the inclusion of BIPOC and other ‘marginalized identities’ are particularly scandalous: 

[C]urrent expectations around manners, clothing, hair, professional attire, language, and diction are all racist at their core. Thus, organizations should recognize how current “professional” expectations negatively impact BIPOC members.

But it gets much, much worse.  

As the geosciences strive to be more accessible, the community must recognize that BIPOC and other marginalized geoscientists are not always safe in geoscience spaces. For example, holding objects (e.g., a rock hammer) has been viewed as “suspicious” and, continues to be, used as a reason to call the police on Black people, which can lead to the death of Black individuals, entirely because of racial profiling and an unjustified fear of Black people.

One can only speculate about the staggering number of BIPOC geologists who have been killed by police for wielding a rock hammer out in the field.   

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