In addition to making us scared, unemployed, humorless, and dumb, the tidal wave of wokeness is redefining our economy. Previously neutral services such as banking now come with ideological purity tests. If you’re a Yale Law student who wants to throw a party with fried chicken, your invitation had better pass muster with the campus Stasi. And if it doesn’t, well, as the Yale Law administration put it, you’d better sign the apology we wrote for you, because “the legal community is a small one.”
If you’re the Art Institute of Chicago, it means firing all your volunteer docents — the knowledgeable volunteers who give guided tours of the museum and its art — because they are “mostly older white women of above-average financial means and with plenty of time on their hands.”
The Wall Street Journal has the whole story. I won’t quote at length from the piece, but it is well worth reading, if only to understand what kind of knowledge base has been lost in pursuit of frivolous virtue signaling.
The art institute’s docents receive 18 months of twice-a-week training to qualify, five years of continual research and writing, and monthly and bi-weekly trainings to further educate themselves. And these are volunteers! But these docents, which included among them a black woman, a fireman, and a condominium manager, didn’t check the box for “demographically diverse.” So they had to go.
Perhaps the institute can go on to find “demographically diverse” docents, but presumably, they will have to be full-time staff whose number and compensation will be subject to the institute’s budget. Most working people don’t have the time or income flexibility to do all of this for free.
Instead, the real cost will be to museum visitors of all financial, demographic, and racial backgrounds. Instead of getting a highly informed, personally guided tour from someone who can tailor the material to specific interests or answer questions, visitors will likely now have an audio tour shoved in their hands and told to muddle through on their own.
Like so many preening woke stands, this is utterly self-defeating. It’s making us all culturally dumber and poorer, in every sense of those words. In that way, it is not unlike the decision by New York City to bar gifted and talented programs in public schools (because they’re racist), putting yet another chasm of opportunity between gifted poor kids in public schools and gifted rich kids who are privately educated. Woke Inc. remains stubbornly ignorant of who this is all hurting the most.