What is Woke Culture?
By: Ricky vela
The term ‘woke’ has come from the black culture and now it has been removed from its origin after it has become a ‘woke culture’. The phrase is used symbolically now signifying deeper meanings. The people who push back against social norms and culture use it as a symbol. It has its roots in the black community and is used as weakness,
which implies being alert and vigilant of being awake to all oppression and racist aggression. Woke culture had a start, enjoyed a peak era, and now is divided among the supporters and critics.
Table of Content
- What is Woke?
- Evolution of ‘Woke'
- How Black Lives Matter/a>
- Term woke in 2020
- Shared with the Youngsters
- The Cancel Culture
- Relation with the Woke Culture
- Are Both Cultures Here to Stay?
- Woke as a Pejorative Term
- Woke Capitalism
- Final Note
What is Woke?
Different dictionaries have a bit different definitions of the word ‘woke’. According to Oxford, it was originally told as ‘well informed, and up to date.
Later Oxford dictionary concluded as a woke is ‘Alert to injustice in society especially racism” to “the act of being very pretentious about how much you care about a social issue’ as per the definition of urban dictionary. These definitions talk a lot about the ‘woke culture’. This term was added to the Oxford Dictionary in 2017 and people often consider it a new term. However, it is anything but new.
Moreover, the urban dictionary published its original definition two years before their official dictionary and defines it as “being woke means being aware”… further stated how it is about knowing what's going on in the community. It is particularly related to racism and social injustice.
Evolution of ‘Woke’
Many people consider it slang too. This woke culture basically started from the African vernacular English (AAVE). Awake is taken as the ‘woke’ in AAVE.
It was once a past particle of the world’s ‘wake’. However, the recent years have seen a lot of change in the term, its significance, and the references it is being used for.
The definition has been totally changed now. This term initiated to be taken as a watchword in parts of the black community for the people who were quite self-sufficient and self-aware of the dominant pattern and kept on striving for the betterment of their life.
The term ‘woke’ also refers to a white person and calls him mockingly who has changed his thoughts on racism due to historical injustice. This was further broken into the mainstream language during the start of the black lives matter campaign.
They also worked on the hashtag #staywoke in order to trigger the racial injustices which started spreading all over the States.
How Black Lives Matter Slogan was Initiated?
It goes back to 2012 when an unarmed teenager named Trayvon Martin was killed in Florida by the watch volunteer George Zimmerman, this is when the term ‘woke’ was used heavily to raise the awareness among the masses.
This movement got many supporters and then there were haters and critics too. It faced a lot of backlashes and criticism by the group of people who mock the term ‘woke’ and are not in the favor of woke culture. They are considered insensitive and racist by their supporters.
Later, the term went on as a call of action and got along with the ‘black lives matter movement really well. Therefore, the notion of woke has taken a different toll and has become more complex since the time they started a campaign on social media.
Fast forwards, after some years the term got affiliated with liberal causes, feminism, LGBT tasks, and cultural issues with left-wing politics.
Term woke in 2020
Woke culture as its founders believed was for the betterment of the people so apparently, there should be no issues with the woke culture. People have started to lose interest in the woke culture due to the less intensity of the term.
Moreover, people never refrain from misusing certain cultures and trends. The term and slogan have been started to follow by the cult social people. Being woke has become something rebellious now.
It is a rather common term now for ridiculing in a group of people where a few are in the favor of this term and others are against it. Woke culture has somehow lost reputation and respect due to its wrong implementation in different scenarios.
An example of the people who are against this culture and believe people misuse it rather than focusing on rights and actual interests includes is the actor Lawrence Fox who sparked controversy by arguing over the use of the term after he targeted an audience member who labeled him a privileged male for saying that he was done with the racism accusations.
This all happened in January 2020. He further accused the audiences of woke views of being racist’. The woke believers, he said are fundamentally racist. He further stated “Identity politics is extremely racist”
Another important example talks about the former president of the US Barack Obama, he actually challenged the woke culture.
He Shared with the Youngsters How the World is Messy.
He went on saying,
"Woke' is described as being alert to racial or social discrimination and injustice. This along with being aware of what's going on in the community. I get a sense among certain young people on social media that the way of making change is to be as judgmental as possible about other people. If I tweet or hashtag about how you didn't do something right or used the wrong verb, then I can sit back and feel pretty good about myself because 'Man did you see how woke I was? I called you out!' That's enough, if all you're doing is casting stones, you are probably not going to get that far."
This was not the first time ever that he spoke about this woke culture.
During an event in Berlin where he was addressing a crowd on April 20th at the Obama Foundation event he uttered.
"One of the things I do worry about among progressives in the United States, maybe it's true here as well, is a certain kind of rigidity where we say 'Uh, I'm sorry, this is how it's going to be' and then we start sometimes creating what's called a 'circular firing squad', where you start shooting at your allies because one of them has strayed from purity on the issues."
So if anyone feels that woke culture has started to disgust everyone, you may take a break and then let the era of canceled culture take over.
Now, what is the cancel culture?
The Cancel Culture
Cancel culture talks about the recent popular practice of withdrawing the love and support for public figures. People consider the public figures and companies canceled after they have done something controversial or objectionable. Cancel culture is generally discussed and practiced on social media by different groups and they do group shaming.
A lot of companies also come forward and use the term and culture against their rival companies and competitors. They try to make the most of it. They start trends and hashtags on social media and try to influence the thinking of the masses and manipulate them.
Relation with the Woke Culture
Woke culture, which talks about the people raising voices and asking for an explanation and answer, cancel culture involves boycotting and people consider their respect and support gone for their favorite celebrity for whatsoever reason.
This trend is quite familiar now and whenever a political figure or celebrity does something offensive, the supporters come forward and cancel the figure by withdrawing their support and love for that concerned person.
This public backlash often happens as a result of political progressive social media people and they cancel that celebrity or political figure. Many political people also use such instances against their competitors to defame them.
Cancel culture can even ruin people’s lives, can tarnish their public image, and can be a reason to end their careers too. So woke culture and cancel culture relate to each other to a certain extent where the intention is to teach the people a lesson and make them realize their mistakes. As quoted by the Romano they call woke the cousin of canceled.
Are Both Cultures Here to Stay?
Woke culture and cancel culture seem to be the new norms. They might fade away soon like many other trends and don’t stay for longer or they might take their place to stay for longer. No one knows. Many higher authorities and political figures make these trends to gain their personal motives.
They pay people to call out the person for their actions and movements. There are trends and campaigns then. However, one is not supposed to criticize the other’s personal choices nonetheless, if it is hurting you in any way you should come forward and call out the person.
Woke as a Pejorative Term
American conservatives don’t take this term positively. It is rather considered an insult for them. A ‘pejorative’ term is one that conveys a negative and disrespectful connotation, it expresses an opinion that is low and negative and shows a lack of respect towards someone or something.
Woke as a pejorative term means following an intolerant and moralizing ideology. The famous British journalist Steven Poole comments on how this term has been misused over the years and mocks righteous liberalism. This term is further used by the opponents sarcastically and mockingly.
They are of the belief that implying wokeness is an insincere type of performative activism. They also believe that promoting social campaigns such as Black Lives Matter is more about exaggerating the intensity of social problems. Political parties use such terms against their opponents and defame them.
The Republican party, for instance, uses this term a lot against the people of the democratic party which are rivals of each other. Additionally, more centrist democrats also use this term for the members of their own party and also accuse them of using the cancel culture to tarnish the image of employment prospects of the people who are not cool enough to be aware of the woke term.
Years after, by 2021, the term woke has been turned into a pejorative term where the words have been used by the people in a derogatory context. This term has been misused by the republican party of the USA big time with the canceled culture and critical race theory. Donald Trump, former president of the USA also stated in 2021 that Biden and co are destroying the States with a ‘woke’ and woke culture.
Many people also use the term woke and woke culture according to the situation in the promotions to get the audience’s reaction regardless of positive or negative believing in any publicity is good publicity.
The word woke and woke culture when broke into the mainstream media, people started using it in their marketing strategies and tactics too to attract their clientele. The term woke capitalism was coined by Ross Douthat who is a popular writer and he used this term for the brands who happen to use the term during their political progressive messaging rather than actually working on genuine reforms.
As the economists quote woke capitalism includes marketing and advertising campaigns to tempt the millennials who are more liberal than the earlier generations. These campaigns never got along with the supporters of woke culture and they perceived the gestures to be insincere, and inauthentic and also happened to backlash against using the phrase “get woke, go broke”.
The ‘woke culture’ got into trends after an unarmed black teenager was shot dead in Florida by a neighbor. The black people started a hashtag with Black Lives Matter and also started their campaigns of woke culture on social media and also conducted the protests. ‘Woke’ which was once a simple past particle of the word ‘wake’ later got popular and people started using it as a term that refers to awareness of racial prejudice. The woke culture then got viral and many liberals started supporting the campaign. Different definitions of the woke, initiative of woke culture and its relation with the cancel culture, and the thoughts of celebrated figures on woke culture have also been discussed above.
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