Former American Presidant Barack Obama has revealed that he talks to his daughter Malia about how important it is not to shame people online just for the sake of being ‘woke’.
In a world where we’re up against abortion bans, LGBTQ+ discrimination and Brexit – we’re all just trying our best to fight for our rights. But we’re also only human, and are bound to make plenty of mistakes in our lifetimes. Because we’re now in the digital era, these mistakes – no matter how big or small – are digitally documented and called out on social media. Of course, it is right to call out racism, sexism and political fake news. But the dark side of call-out culture is the extreme trolling and public shaming that often comes with it.
Addressing the need to stop shaming people online for not being ‘woke’ enough, Barack Obama delivered a powerful speech challenging call-out culture at the Obama Foundation’s annual summit this week.
And the video has since gone viral…
The former President of the United States sat beside actor Yara Shahidi on stage at the Illinois Institute of Technology, as he said:
“This idea of purity and that you’re never compromised and you’re always politically ‘woke’ and all that stuff… you should get over that quickly.
“The world is messy, there are ambiguities, and people who do really good stuff have flaws. People who you are fighting may love their kids.”
Obama then revealed that this is something he talks about with his daughter Malia, who is currently studying at university.
“And the one danger I see, particularly with college kids – Malia and I talk about this…” he continued.
“I do get a sense sometimes now among certain young people on social media that there is this sense of ‘the way of me making change is to be as judgmental as possible about other people. If I tweet or hashtag about how you didn’t do something right or used the wrong verb, then I can sit back and feel pretty good about myself because man did you see how woke I was? I called you out!’”
He added: “That’s not activism. That’s no bringing about change. If all you’re doing is casting stones, you’re probably not going to get that far. That’s easy to do.”
The video has been shared by thousands of people on Twitter, echoing the importance of not shaming people online in the name of being ‘woke’.
Michelle Obama also made a powerful speech at the summit, saying that white people are “still running” from non-white and immigrant families.
She recalled how white people left the neighbourhood she and her family moved into on Chicago’s south side in the 1970s – comparing her experience of “white flight” to the way communities react to the arrival of immigrant families today.
“You’re still running,” she says. “We’re no different from the immigrant families that are moving in […] the families that are coming from other places to try to do better.”
The couple have both clearly given people a lot to think about, but we’d expect nothing less from the Obamas.