Rooftop Revelations: Will wokeism be the death of black America?

on Feb22
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Those who call themselves members of the woke tribe in America often point to communities like Pastor Corey Brooks’ South Side neighborhood as signs of systemic racism. They talk of white supremacy, redlining and block-busting as the major contributors to the poverty and violence while conveniently ignoring the devastating impact of post-’60s liberalism.

The woke find their audiences in universities, corporations, institutions and in school districts like District 95 in Evanston, a wealthy Chicago suburb 20 miles north of where the pastor lives and ministers. Teachers in that district have been teaching students about Black Lives Matter as part of Black History Month. The students are told: “We did not create race, racism or racist institutions but it is our job as global citizens to dismantle institutional racism. We can start by saying and believing Black Lives Matter.” They are also told: “Racism and racists institutions like plantations, Jim Crow Laws, ‘ghettos’ and prisons are/were ethnoracial prisons that purposely impede the social and economic success of black people.” (Emphasis added.)

Wokeism functions as a backward looking ideology that derives power not from creating opportunities and present day solutions but from the sins of America’s racist past. That is why the pastor rejects the empty ideology that exploits black pain and gives nothing in return. On the 94th day of his 100-day rooftop vigil to raise funds to build a transformative community center on the South Side of Chicago, the pastor hosted a video chat with Shelby Steele, who wrote and produced the 2020 documentary “What Killed Michael Brown?” The pastor appeared in that film. (Disclosure: Eli Steele is the son of Shelby Steele and directed “What Killed Michael Brown?”)

“I want to ask you a question about this woke thing,” the pastor began. “What is the real story behind the battle and why do you think these woke folks claim to be helping us?”


“I think woke comes from a larger phenomenon of white guilt. America, in the mid-’60s … [admitted] that it partook of evil and it partook of evil for four centuries— wasn’t just a quick minute,” Steele said. “One of the consequences is that the moral authority of the American democracy was put at risk because of this history of evil that came to the forefront in the ’60s. Since that time, white America understandably has been trying to reestablish its moral authority, its moral legitimacy. In order to do that, it has to find ways to demonstrate that it is not guilty any longer of those old evils.”

“Woke is just simply the spinning out of that guilt. Today, the president of the United States says he has to appoint to the Supreme Court a black woman — not a Hispanic woman, not a white woman, that’s old hat. He has to now show his innocence of racism,” Steele continued.

“Woke is a corrupt because it is more interested in retrieving the innocence of white America than it is in the development of black America,” Steele said. “And so we as blacks – even though whites are now saying, ‘look, we do this and we do this and we give you this and we give you that’ and so forth – we’re over here falling farther and farther behind.”

“Wokeism is the greatest enemy black America has ever had outside of slavery itself,” Steele added. “There’s nothing worse that could happen because you’re doing all these things in our name.”

“I agree 100%,” the pastor said. “I’m hearing many of the principles that you talk about in your books, like how hard work and woodshedding and personal responsibility and so on are being described as vestiges of white supremacy. Why has the Left tried so hard to destroy these ideas?”

“Because they don’t believe in black people,” Steele responded bluntly. “They really do, in a sense, believe we’re inferior and they make public policy around that inferiority. And so they, in sense, enable it, they encourage it. The more tragedy that blacks have to live with, the more innocent [the Left is] because they can come up with another program … another series of narratives and stories and lies that reflect their innocence and how pitiful we are. What liberals will not do is stand toe to toe with a black person and say, ‘Why don’t you take responsibility for yourself?’”

“Why are you so passionate and why do you believe in these American principles so much?” the pastor followed up. 

“Because I’m an American deep in my heart. I’m an American,” Steele replied. “The American democracy is the best conception for society imaginable, that we represent a step forward in human evolution. Our idea of the individual being, being a citizen and responsible for a democratic society as opposed to autocracies is a beautiful, beautiful thing. And it is the best road for all of us. You have take responsibility for yourself. That ethic prevails all across America, white, black, otherwise. Responsibility is freedom.”

“Do you think wokeism, if successful, will finish off the job of post-’60s liberalism?” the pastor asked. “Will it be the death of us?” 


“That word is not too strong. It’s killing us now. I say every day, I hope that whites somehow begin to get the message to stop this notion that your benevolence, your virtue signaling is somehow gonna help black America achieve equality in American life. The opposite is true. It’s gonna keep us down. You reduce the standards everywhere,” Steele said. “You reduce the standards thereby saying, ‘We have no faith in you. You’re inferior. We’ll suspend the SAT exam in universities. We won’t count it anymore because blacks don’t do well on it.’ We either stand up like men and women and take our place in this world or we don’t.”

“It’s been a tremendous blessing to have you on,” the pastor said. “You are a blessing to America and a tremendous blessing in my life.”

“Well, double that back at you,” Steele said. “Thank you so much for everything you do. You have a special place in God’s eye. I can tell you that. You’re a good man.”

Follow along as Fox News checks in Pastor Corey Brooks each day with a new Rooftop Revelation.

For more information, please visit Project H.O.O.D.

Eli Steele is a documentary filmmaker and writer. His latest film is “What Killed Michael Brown?” Twitter: @Hebro_Steele.

Camera by Terrell Allen.

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