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Libs of TikTok creator Chaya Raichik was laughed at by students at Indiana University after she failed to define the word "wokeness."

Source: Nicholas Klein / Getty

In today’s episode of White People Don’t Actually Know What ‘Woke’ Means, the white woman behind the conservative social media account, Libs of TikTok, found herself getting laughed at by a room of college students as she struggled to define “wokeness” even as she was claiming it exists everywhere in today’s society to the point where it’s inescapable.

“It’s in our kids’ schools, it’s in our college campuses, it is in the workforce, it is, uh, in the streets, it’s when you go to the store—I mean, like, you can’t do anything in peace without this wokeness being shoved down your throat wherever you go,” MAGA media miseducation messenger Chaya Raichik told students at Indiana University.

OK, first of all, where are these “streets” that Chaya Raichik is referring to? Are conservative Caucasians having to duck drive-by DEI dissertations on their way to work? Are Antifa activists standing at intersections handing out pamphlets while preaching the good word of Ta-Nehishi Coates? Are dealers on the street corners selling candy in rainbow flag wrappers to the children? Or is Decepti-Karen simply being white and fragile in response to witnessing a society that is evolving, improving and correcting itself from generation to generation, which is literally how every single society in history has progressed socially?

Anyway, students started chuckling when Raichik claimed this ubiquitous “wokeness” she spoke of was “being shoved down your throat”—because, at this point, that particular cliché is just starting to sound like some kind of freaky right-wing kink—but that was nothing compared to the laughs she got when she was asked to define “wokeness” by what sounded like a Black student, and she, well, failed to find a way to articulate any semblance of a plausible definition.

“Wokeness is the destruction of normalacy and… And… Um… Uh… of our lives,” Raichik said. (I looked it up multiple times just to make sure I wasn’t trippin’, and, no, “normalacy” is not a word.)

Here’s the thing: Everything Raichik had to say to these students indicates that what she views as “normalcy” is actually just whiteness—heteronormative whiteness, to be exact.

For Black people, there’s nothing abnormal about calling out systemic racism in America. We’ve been doing it in our households, our churches, our barber shops and beauty salons, our cookouts, and in all of our other social groups for generations. When we are blessed to have Black teachers in our Black schools, what white people call “wokeness” has always been in our classrooms, especially at HBCUs. When it comes to “wokeness,” we’re not new to this, we’re true to this. What we have had to grapple with our whole lives is the effects of whiteness, which we see in our “schools,” in the “workforce” and even in our “streets.”

Likewise, in the LGBTQ+ community, there’s nothing abnormal about the fight against homophobia, transphobia and queerphobia in general, and the concept of genre fluidity is not some radical and foreign idea—it’s simply about human beings believing they’re still entitled to human rights and dignity despite not adhering to the gender binary. What they grapple with is anti-LGBTQ+ bigotry in their “schools,” in the “workforce” and even in their “streets.”

Chaya Raichik reminds me of another tighty-righty white woman who also couldn’t define “woke,” conservative author Bethany Mandel, who said herself that she wrote an entire chapter on wokeness in her book, Stolen Youth: How Radicals Are Erasing Innocence and Indoctrinating a Generation, but she also failed miserably when challenged to define the word.

“So, I mean, woke is sort of the idea that, um ….” Mandel began before visibly drawing a blank and getting tongue-tied.

“This is gonna be one of those moments that goes viral,” she admitted while realizing how foolish she had made herself look.

“Woke is something that’s very hard to define and we’ve spent a whole chapter defining it,” she eventually said. “It’s sort of the understanding that we need to totally reimagine and redo society in order to create hierarchies of oppression. It’s hard to explain in a 15-second soundbite.”

Here’s what I wrote last year about Mandel’s non-answer:

Oh, Bethany.

Actually, “woke” is not a hard term to define. It’s so easy to define, in fact, that Black people have been using the word with a clear understanding of what it means as early as the 1930s. There was nothing complicated about it. It could be explained in a five-second soundbite. It absolutely doesn’t take even that long to articulate, “Woke refers to Black people’s collective awareness of white supremacy.”

Anyway, joining in on Raichik’s unintentional Caucasian comedy routine was Republican Indiana Rep. Jim Banks, who chimed in as his co-speaker was being laughed at to define “wokeness” as “anti-Americanism,” because, once again, white conservatives believe they are the arbiters of what is and isn’t “American.”

“I’m sick and tired of being taught that America isn’t worth fighting and dying for, it’s a great country, it’s the greatest country in the history of the world,” Banks said.

First of all, constantly referring to America as the “greatest country in the history of the world” isn’t patriotism, it’s jingoism, and, honestly, it reeks of American insecurity. No one who is great needs to work this hard to convince people of it. Secondly, what the hell is Banks even talking about? Who is teaching that America isn’t worth fighting for? (The “dying” part he can keep, though. Why would such a “great” country require human sacrifices from its citizens in the first place?) People who Banks would call “woke” actually fight for America every day—they’re just fighting for the version of America where marginalized people have a voice and equity, and where their lives, values, ideals and existences are normalized. Banks, Raichik, Mandel and their ilk, on the other hand, are fighting for a return to traditional America, which is white nationalist America. What they want is for their culture of conservative whiteness to reign supreme in America.

Hmmmm, whiteness reigning supreme. If only there was a term for that.


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