The term “woke” is thrown a lot these days, including here on FreedomWire.
And when a term like that is used so often, it is worthy of further inspection into its origins and meaning.
Merriam Webster defines woke as: “aware of and actively attentive to important facts and issues (especially issues of racial and social justice).
The Left has used the word “woke” to call out social injustices they claim to have seen…but really the word is used to virtue signal to their social justice friends that they too are up-in-arms about social issues.
Failure to virtue signal wokeness will be followed by immediate termination from the mob. Or in popular parlance, the un-woke will be “canceled.”
Traditionally the word woke has had three meanings: 1) slang for being literally awake; 2) slang for being suspicious of a cheating partner; 3) the original, politically charged usage of always being on the lookout for systemic injustice.”
It is the latter context that people associate the word woke in popular culture.
The word had been used in common vernacular going back to a 1962 piece published in the New York Times written by black novelist William Melvin Kelley.
Kelley wrote that to be “woke” is to be a socially conscious Black American, someone aware of the ephemeral nature of Black vernacular, who might actively be shifting that vernacular away from white people who would exploit it or change its meaning.
Woke as we know it became popular following the 2014 Ferguson riots in the wake of the death of Michael Brown at the hands of a police officer after Brown charged the officer and was shot for doing so.
Left-wing news site Vox reported, “Before 2014, the call to ‘stay woke’ was, for many people, unheard of. The idea behind it was common within Black communities at that point — the notion that staying ‘woke’ and alert to the deceptions of other people was a basic survival tactic. But in 2014, following the police killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, ‘stay woke’ suddenly became the cautionary watchword of Black Lives Matter activists on the streets, used in a chilling and specific context: keeping watch for police brutality and unjust police tactics.
In the six years since Brown’s death, ‘woke’ has evolved into a single-word summation of leftist political ideology, centered on social justice politics and critical race theory.”
Conservatives have had some fun at the expense of the woke mob, and have turned the phrase around against them. The use of woke is the opposite of virtue signaling on the Right. It used as a term of derision against those on the Left who think they are so socially conscious that they are more enlightened than the rest of us. In their eyes, if only we did what they wanted, the world would be a racial utopia, a land not of equality, but of equity.
If none of this was helpful to you in understanding what woke actually means, here is a comedy sketch done a few years back by the cast of Saturday Night Live.
Stay woke, America!