Is Woke Fatigue Finally Setting In?

The Broadway show “Ain’t No Mo’” may soon be no more, if ticket sales do not pick up. If you have never heard of it, you are not alone. But for the sake of expediency, here is a brief description  from the home page of the show’s website:

Direct from a smash-hit run at The Public Theater, AIN’T NO MO’ dares to ask the incendiary question, “What if the U.S. government offered Black Americans one-way plane tickets to Africa?” The answer is the high-octane new comedy from the mischievous mind of playwright Jordan E. Cooper.

Moving faster than a transatlantic jet plane, this unprecedented, unpredictable comedy speeds through the turbulent skies of being Black in today’s America.

Brilliantly blending sketch, satire, avant garde theater, and a dose of drag, AIN’T NO MO’ will leave you crying with laughter—and thinking through the tears.

So put your tray tables in the upright position. Enjoy your flight. And never look back.

The site’s banner shows a jetliner, painted in a Kente cloth pattern, and a ragged U.S. flag on the tail, being shredded by the wind. And there are references in the show to privileged white people. It is made up of a series of sketches about how various black characters would react to the idea of the U.S. Government offering black people free flights back to Africa for repatriation. Of course, it is getting rave reviews. But the show is slated to close because it is not drawing an audience. Cooper, who also acts in the production, said that because there were no celebrities, no smash-hit songs, and no well-known intellectual property, people were just not lining up at the box office. An effort is underway to rally the theater-going public to save the production. You can watch Cooper’s interview and see a brief clip from the show’s opening on MSNBC here.

Page Six had an Instagram post from Cooper urging people to attend:

Ain’t No Mo’ needs your help! It’s a new original play that’s BLACK AF, which are both things that make it hard to sell on Broadway. We need all hands on deck with urgency. In the name of art, in the name of resistance, in the name of we belong here too, in the name of every storytelling ancestor who ever graced a Broadway stage or was told they never could.

Cooper said that the production has kept ticket prices low and urged people to sponsor someone by buying them a ticket. Will and Jada Smith purchased tickets for an entire show.

Maybe the production does not have the star power to generate an audience. Maybe there’s just not been enough publicity. And, of course, it may be due to racism because, reasons.

But it may also be that people are burned out with trying to be woke 24/7. For years, from the office of the president of the United States to the local school boards and every office, activist, bureaucrat, and administrator in between, people have had racism, trans, and every other phobia and “ism” pounded into them at every juncture. People who have known they are not racist are tired of defending themselves every minute, except perhaps when it comes to their children. And they also know that discussion is simply impossible. And even the true believers may be growing weary of confessing their sins with every other breath. How many times can you flog yourself on the steps of Canterbury Cathedral, especially for offenses you know you did not commit? How long are you supposed to clap for Stalin before your hands start to bleed and your arms cramp? You may be opposed to racism. You may even have rended your garments and heaped ashes on your head over your privilege. But when the accusations become unrelenting and perpetual repentance for values you do not hold and actions you did not commit becomes a mandatory national ritual, you might begin to tune out. At least personally. Never publicly, lest a fresh round of accusations commence. But privately, you may be too tired to go the distance yet again. No matter how non-racist you are, you will never be non-racist or anti-racist enough.

At this point, I must add the mandatory disclaimer that there are racists. We all know that. It has always been thus. But not everyone is racist. I was never a racist and am still not. You can visit some of my other pieces if you want to read those stories. But no matter my history and my views, society still says that I am racist by virtue of my existence. It is the only permissible conclusion. And as the Borg might say, “Debate is futile.” Since in the public square, everything is racist, people may simply be looking for some emotional respite in their private lives. They may be tired of constantly being relegated to stereotypes and not individuals. And eventually, the response to an accusation of an “ism” or phobia may become autonomic, with people, even in their private moments, routinely driving themselves into the ground over prejudices they do not really hold. Struggle sessions may become everyday things, as people replace their daily affirmations with their daily accusations.

Which may have been the point all along.