Welcome to Wokefield

01Apr19

I know that you’re used to seeing this column on Thursday, so you may be wondering why you’re reading this on a Monday. The reason is, I have an important announcement concerning a personal new beginning. I thought it only appropriate that I announce it at the start of, not just a new week, but a new month.

The news is that at long last I have seen the light. I have renounced my past ways. I see now the injustices that my own privilege has served to perpetuate. I have been enlightened to the inherent value of diversity, equality and sustainability.

In short, I have joined the Woke Community.

So eager was I to share this news that I threatened a hunger strike if my corporate masters at the Wakefield Daily Item refused to allow me this special Monday column. Fortunately, they immediately caved to my demands so I won’t have to cancel my reservation at Tonno tonight.

When I say that I have joined the Woke Community, I mean that in both the figurative and literal sense. Because being woke means understanding that it’s not about me. It’s about community.

I have come to see that, like me, Wakefield has changed. Wakefield is now a Woke Community, and I am proud to be part of it. As a result of my personal epiphany and to recognize the progress that we as a community have made together, I am proposing that Wakefield change its name to Wokefield.

Beginning with this column, I will dedicate my very existence to making the case for this small but poignant name change. I will proclaim to the world the wokeness of Wakefield. Or is it the wakeness of Wokefield? Either way, you get the idea.

It’s just one vowel, but the singular power of that letter will serve to motivate communities far and wide to follow suit. Who would not be proud to live in any of these other soon-to-be-renamed towns: Personfield (formerly Mansfield), African-Americanstone (formerly Blackstone), Peacewick (formerly Warwick), Fairsharehaven (formerly Fairhaven), Aware (formerly Ware) and of course, Pembwoke.

Why does our town deserve to be designated as a Woke Community?

The reasons are many and diverse, but at the top of the list is the act of reversing nearly 400 years of patriarchal oppression by changing the name of the Board of Selectmen to the Town Council. No half measures for us, unlike Reading and Stoneham, who wimped out and went with “Select Board.” Preserving any trace of the patriarchy is a disgrace. Reading and Stoneham should be ashamed.

Second is our plastic bag ban. Because we took the advice of a wise 15-year-old woman, plastic bags from our town will never again clog a landfill. Never mind that our trash is incinerated and has never gone to a landfill. It’s the thought that counts.

Another plus in our favor is our farmers market. Few things define a community’s wokeness better than the ability to purchase an $8-organic tomato at an outdoor stall.

A very recent example was the vigil that was recently held on the Common in response to the attacks in Christchurch, New Zealand (speaking of communities that might want to consider a name-change). Holding that vigil was a noble gesture, even if the organizers did allow several white males to speak. Oh, well. Baby steps, I suppose.

I could go on, but I want to get to elephant in the room that still needs to be addressed.

I’m obviously referring to The Hiker statue. Don’t be fooled by the fact that it was created by feminist artist Theodora Alice Ruggles Kitson, who rose to the top of the male-dominated world of sculpture. The Hiker remains highly problematic.

First, it perpetuates heteropatriarchal concepts of toxic masculinity. To add insult to injury, it is a symbol of America’s history of imperialist warmongering. And then there’s the gun. I can’t believe the statue hasn’t been taken down on that basis alone. Just try to imagine the trauma that weapon triggers on a daily basis.

The Hiker isn’t the only monumental problem. Why are there no female Civil War veterans depicted on the Soldiers and Sailors Monument on the Common? Only when women are exclusively represented on our statues and memorials will we have achieved true gender equality.

As you can see, although we have attained the status of a Woke Community, being woke is first and foremost aspirational. No matter what we accomplish, there will always be more to be done. You can never be too woke. There are, in fact several goals that we still need to aim for. Here are just a few.

  • Mandatory solar panels. Once all the women have been appointed to the new Environmental and Sustainability Committee, mandatory solar panels on every roof in town should be strictly enforced.
  • Eliminate all downtown parking and install bike lanes.
  • Gender re-education. Those who fail to understand non-binary concepts of gender, especially the elderly and the religious, must be shamed and shunned.
  • Mandatory attendance at all candlelight vigils (to be enforced by the Human Rights Commission).

Well, ladies and gentlemen – or rather, persons who identify as female, male or other – my corporate overlords have informed me that I am out of space. However, the struggle goes on. The patriarchy isn’t going to fight itself, after all.

Welcome to Wokefield.

[This column originally appeared in the April 1, 2019 Wakefield Daily Item.]



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