‘Wokeness’, the Slang for Millenials’ Awareness and Activism

“Nobody is born woke.”

― Dolly Chugh, The Person You Mean to Be: How Good People Fight Bias

‘Stay Woke’ is perhaps the new need of the society and Millenials are are the first of all who are transforming to be woke more than anyone. Wokeness or woke, as the term has evolved over the years, has started being used for anyone and everyone who is actively taking a stand against the socio-cultural inequalities. Millennials today are the first of all who lead up to calling out the wrong, or discriminatory remarks. They are the community known to be most woke. But before we read more about Millenials and ‘wokeness’, let’s learn about woke and the history of ‘wokeness’ in detail.

What ‘Woke’ mean?

“Woke” is described as well-informed, up-to-date by the Oxford English Dictionary. The term, more than ever, has now been on the lookout for racial or social inequality and injustice. The term, as per the Urban Dictionary means ‘being aware’, knowing what’s going on in the community.

Read More: Body positivity vs Body Neutrality: COVID teaches to be Body Neutral

What are the origins of woke?

It used to literally mean the past participle of the verb ‘wake.’ Although this has evolved dramatically in recent years, the current meaning of the term is not new in the United States. In an essay titled “If you’re woke, you dig it,” African-American novelist William Melvin Kelley wrote the first recorded use of the term under its modern meaning.

The 2008 album “Master Teacher” by soul singer Erykah Badu popularised this use with the lyrics “I stay woke.” Following the killing of Michael Brown in 2014, demonstrators from the Black Lives Matter (BLM) campaign used the slogan “stay woke” to raise awareness of police abuses. In May 2016, BET aired the documentary “Stay Woke,” which focused on the campaign.

But as the term has travelled miles and years, it has evolved as slang for not just the racial injustices but also for any injustice and inequalities and the critics of the term majorly critique on this point. Staying woke has started being used interchangeably with the ‘staying informed’ or ‘staying aware.

The phenomenon of being woke is a cultural push to challenge problematic norms, systemic injustices, and the overall status quo through complete awareness. ‘It requires an active process of deprogramming social conditionings focusing on consistent efforts to challenge the universal infractions we are all subjected to,’- A New York poet Raven Cras explains on Bravity

For what it’s worth, wokeness is a buzzword that many people don’t even get the meaning of. I believe that objects lose their weight as they make their way through the zeitgeist. And one of the terms that have hit that stage is wokeness.Amanda Seales 

The word ‘Woke’ itself is a call to action for people to challenge dogmatic social expectations and wake up. It necessitates an aggressive method of social conditioning deprogramming that focuses on consistent attempts to challenge the fundamental infractions to which we are all exposed. However, one must first ‘be woke’ in order to stay woke. The social media trends are brutal and to be in the trend, sharing the woke content won’t make a person woke.

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Ishika Aggarwal

Can write, shoot, listen, talk and procrastinate. A feminist at heart, Ishika is an avid writer and multimedia person who loves talking about women, realism, and society. When not working she is either seen watching films or making one.
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