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I recently wrote an op-ed published in the Gazette-Mail explaining and debunking the negative attacks by extremist Republicans on what they call “woke” (the English teacher in me wants to correct that to wokeness).

They apply this taunt to anyone who holds ideas different from theirs, especially those held by Democrats, liberals and progressives. Beliefs such as democracy being important; our Constitution protecting us from being subject to the religious rules and practices that might not agree with our own. They apply the “woke” label to anyone who acknowledges American history is not simply a story of rugged individualists conquering a wilderness and building a modern nation, but that our history contains many shameful chapters in which the majority white settlers oppressed, murdered and stole from the indigenous people; that they enslaved people they imported from Africa and the Caribbean and any immigrants whose skin was not as light as most northern Europeans.

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Paul Epstein is a retired teacher and musician living in Charleston.

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