Woke is a modern slang term, coming from African American Vernacular English and refers to an awareness and vigilance towards social and racial injustices.
Today it is associated with all sorts of cultural, social or racial struggles, largely popularized by the Black Lives Matter movement.
“Woke” is primarily associated with left-wing supporters or even liberalism, due to its association with the LGBT movement as well as feminism.
Because of this, there are lots of critiques, memes and satires of the term on the internet.
“Woke” was first used in a political context in 1960, related to the political campaign of Abraham Lincoln.
The Wide Awakes movement was created to oppose the spread and prevalence of slavery.
During the 20th century, the expression “wake up” was also used by Marcus Garvey as well as other black rights activists, well into the 60’s and 70’s.
Spread and Usage
The first modern context, in which the expression “woke” was used was in Erykah Badu’s 2007 song Master Teachers.
In 2012, Badu started to use the expression in relation to social and political as well as racial issues on her Twitter account.
Starting from 2015, the Black Lives Matter movement had begun to massively contribute to the spread of the expression and by 2020, “woke” is something known by the general public to be a call for vigilance in relation to the injustices of the world.
For more information about “woke” see: https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=woke
- The Politics of Being Woke – The Politics of Being Woke
- Today In Connecticut History – July 26: Long Before People Were “Woke,” These Abraham Lincoln Supporters Were “Wide Awakes”
- Wikipedia – Woke