The word “woke” was officially introduced to the English language in 2017. It means being aware of sensitive social issues like racism.
The word “woke” is at the center of many of the most heated political and cultural arguments of our time. Some people use “woke” as an insult, while others use it to describe someone who is aware of what’s going on in the world.
After the new US president was appointed in, Boris Johnson was asked if Joe Biden is “woke.” In a noncommittal answer, the Prime Minister said, “There is nothing wrong with being woke.”
But what does the phrase really mean, and why does it bother so many people?
What Does ‘Woke’ Mean In Politics?
The old definition of the word “woke” was simply “the past simple of “wake,” as in “to wake up” or “to be awake.”
The modern meaning of the word has changed a lot, and the new meaning of the word “woke” was added to the dictionary in 2017.
The Oxford English Dictionary says that it originally meant “well-informed and up-to-date.” Now, mainly: aware of racial or social injustice and discrimination.
While Urban Dictionary says that “being woke” means “being aware” and “knowing what’s going on in the community (in terms of racism and social injustice)”.
It isn’t a new word. Like most street words and phrases, “woke” has been around for hundreds of years.
How Did The Word “Woke” Originate?
If you want to find the first time the word “woke” was used in this way, you can go back to a 1962 article by William Melvin Kelley called “If You’re Woke, You Dig It.”
The article talked about how white beatniks used African-American Vernacular English (AAVE).
Moreover, in Barry Beckham’s play Garvey Lives! from 1971, the line “I’ve been sleeping all my life. I’m going to stay awake now that Mr. Garvey woke me up. I’ll help him wake up more black people.”
The phrase “I stay woke” was also in Erykah Badu’s 2008 song Master Teacher, which helped spread the word.
In 2012, when the Russian feminist group Pussy Riot was jailed for a protest meant to bring attention to the mistreatment of women, Erykah Badu tweeted, “Truth doesn’t need belief. Stay wkeo. Keep an eye out. #FreePussyRiot.”
After police killed Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014, the #staywoke hashtag was used by the Black Lives Matter movement. This made the word more common.
“The word “woke” became linked to the Black Lives Matter movement. Instead of just being a word that meant being aware of injustice or racial tension, it became a call to action. “Activists were woke of what was going on and asked others to do the same,” Merriam-Webster says.
The word “woke” is being used more and more, and the former host of “Good Morning Britain,” Piers Morgan, recently said that the “woke brigade” ruined the 2021 Oscars.
People have complained about the Oscars for as long as they’ve been around that the nominees aren’t more diverse.
In 2015, when all 20 acting nominations went to white people, April Reign came up with the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite, which became popular. People quickly started using the hashtag to criticize the Oscars and demand changes.