Define: woke

Sheila Mwanda, Staff Writer

In recent years, the use of the word “woke” has been on the rise. Urban DIctionary defines the word woke as “being aware of the social and political environments regarding all demographics and socio-economic standings.”  While its first recorded usage dates back to 1962, it gained the momentum it has now in 2014 alongside of the Black Lives Matter Movement.

Since then, the use of the term woke in pop culture has skyrocketed. Rappers Childish Gambino, J Cole and Chance the Rapper and actress Yara Shahidi are now on the curriculum of the Woke Academy, and the TV show Blackish is not that far down on the list. From music to movies, one cannot simply escape from the Woke Movement, so much so that the idea of becoming woke has become a right of passage for most people, just like losing baby teeth.

The Woke Movement represents a significant step forward for our country. It allows us to understand and discuss the struggles faced by racial and social minorities and what we can do to bridge that gap. Because of the Woke Movement, we are able to talk more freely about the uncomfortable issues that are so deeply rooted into our nation’s history. Before this, whenever sensitive issues such as social and racial divisions and slavery were mentioned, everyone would awkwardly look down at the floor, not wanting to be the person to break the silence. Now, while these issues are still difficult to talk about, the Woke Movement has made these issues a bigger part of the common dialog.

One worry is that, like Silly Bandz and Popsockets, the Woke Movement may be just another phase in our generation’s history. Additionally, some people aren’t taking it with it’s full weight: some people are so eager to pass the Woke Course and receive their Woke Badge that many people are not actually taking the time to understand what it truly means to be “woke.” Many have the idea that once the recieve their Woke Badge, they suddenly know what it means to constantly be aware of the hardships and adversities that people have faced throughout their lives, but that’s not the case.

Being “woke” is a continual process of understanding people with different cultural and social backgrounds than yourself. While staying up-to-date in current affairs is different for everyone, one cannot grasp the issues that an entire race has faced for over 242 years by listening to a ten song mixtape. Stay woke, but in the true sense of the word.