The meaning of ‘woke’ according to the Left and the Right
Woke is a recent term that gained traction during the massive, unruly protest of the Marxist group Black Lives Matter in 2020. It has evolved to refer to being socially and politically aware of social justice, LGBTQIA rights, and inequality issues.
The beginnings of ‘woke’
Woke is an adjective derived from African-American Vernacular English (AAVE) that means “alert to racism and discrimination.” It emerged in the 1930s and became popular again in 2014 after Black Lives Matter (BLM) used the phrase “stay woke” to protest the shooting of Michael Brown.
The term “woke” is a slang term by mostly left liberals. Initially, it means to be socially conscious of Black prejudice.
“Stay woke. Keep your eyes open.” – Lead Belly— LanaQuest aka RosaSparks (@LqLana) May 30, 2023
The Scottsboro Boys, nine Black teens falsely accused of raping two white women in 1931, were sentenced to death. NAACP forced repeated retrials. They were finally freed but never recovered.
The first documented use of the phrase… pic.twitter.com/198arwKwM0
How woke became a pejorative term
In 2016, wokeness became associated with being anti-American due to “woke athletes” kneeling before the American flag instead of showing traditional respect.
In 2020, the height of wokeness led to violent and destructive protests and some looting, although 93% was generally peaceful.
“Woke cities” like San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, and New York supported the protest and even the defunding of police as one of their “woke” awakenings.
Cultural appropriation and cancel culture
LGBTQ activists also embraced wokeness to overcome discrimination and prejudice—along with protests to ban consumer products that made money on cultural appropriation.
Hence, wokeness became synonymous with “cancel culture.”
Left Liberal definition of the word woke
On the Left, being woke is generally seen as a positive attribute. “Stay woke” advocates racial justice for marginalized groups, particularly Blacks in America.
Liberals use it to promote social justice and create a more inclusive and diverse society.
Woke in popular culture is often used to describe someone aware of and actively fighting against bigotry, sexism, homophobia, and xenophobia.
Woke and the Black Lives Matter cause became synonymous, but in 2021, wokeism expanded to LGBTQ causes.
Ultimately, woke means to promote social justice and create a more inclusive society that includes Blacks and LGBTQ who they claim are persecuted in America.
Asians never adopted Wokeism except for a few liberal Asian Americans who associate themselves with prejudice against non-whites.
On the contrary, Asians experienced discrimination and prejudice from random Black Lives Matter activists.
Right Conservative definition of the word woke
Woke as pejorative
On the Right, the term woke is often viewed negatively. As pejorative, it is used to mock or criticize political correctness and identity politics advocates.
Conservatives also see wokeness as a Marxist ideology that only seeks its voice and silence opposing viewpoints.