The term ‘
woke‘ was first introduced to me through my auntie, Erykah Badu, on her song “Master Teacher Medley,” where she croons repeatedly, “I stay woke.”
This phrase has become more and more popular recently, especially in the black community. Donald (Childish Gambino) Glover included it in the hook of his recent hit, “Redbone.”
Nowadays everyone is on the internet claiming to be ‘
woke‘ and even going as far as to quantify their ‘ wokeness‘.
In the recent Netflix series, “Dear White People,” they use the term frequently and one of the characters in the show even created an app called “
woke or not woke,” essentially quantifying ‘ wokeness‘ as I previously mentioned.
By now you probably notice that I haven’t defined the term. That is the entire point of this post. Most people have a general idea of what it means but at this point, it has become so overused and saturated that ‘
woke‘ is ambiguously and loosely defined by the person who claims the label.
Woke‘ could just simply mean aware. These days we tend to associate the word exclusively to African-Americans, especially after the several tragic deaths that have occurred over and over again. In this case, being ‘ woke‘ is emulating the awareness of the injustices that happen in this country. They tell you to ‘stay woke,’ but will that keep a person from being murdered?
I raise this question because being ‘
woke‘ simply isn’t enough and it has became oversaturated to the point that being ‘ woke‘ is synonymous with being cool or being down for the cause. “Stay Woke” is a nice phrase to throw onto a t-shirt or a cap. Being ‘ woke’, however, is way beyond all of this.
It may seem as if I am arrogantly implying that I’m more ‘
woke‘ than anybody else who claims to be or is reading this. If you made that assumption, you are missing the point entirely.
We all know ‘
woke‘ when we see it, right? Oprah Winfrey, Nelson Mandela, Tony Robbins, Russell Brand. Even Katy Perry was assumed to be ‘ woke‘ until a video surfaced of her saying people miss her black hair like people miss Obama:
This video surfaced after she released a new single with Migos titled “Bon Appetit.” The song isn’t terrible in my opinion, but the Migos feature seemed kind of forced, though they are blowing up tremendously lately: Appearing on late night shows, the Ellen Show, the Met Gala, and with Katy Perry’s help, they appeared on Saturday Night Live this past weekend.
Naturally, people are bashing Katy Perry for her performance and poor dance moves (but what do you expect, did you see her Super Bowl performance?!), and the fact that she put Migos on her song. Forget all of the commentary surrounding that and let’s focus on the fact that Migos performed on Saturday Night Live. Not saying that Katy Perry is ‘
woke‘ or not ‘ woke,’ but at least she made that happen, for the culture (no pun intended). Also unrelated but kind of related, does anyone believe that any of the Migos are ‘ woke?’
The second definition of ‘
woke‘ on Urban Dictionary says this:
wokemeans being aware.. knowing what’s going on in the community (relating to racism and social injustice).”
While this may be the perceived meaning of the word to the general masses, who’s to say who really is ‘
woke‘ or not ‘ woke‘? You can be aware of what goes on in your community and be a 45-year-old white man who lives in Mississippi. Is he ‘ woke,’ or does your first thought become, “oh he’s probably racist so of course he can’t be ‘ woke‘.”
The main problem I have with this word is that we’re trying to make it exclusive to racial relations and social injustices. These things happen, being aware of these things does not make a person more or less of a morally decent human being. These things also happen without our awareness, still ‘
woke‘ though right?
Another thing that gets me about this word is that people have begun to label themselves ‘
woke‘ like ‘ woke bae’ or ‘ woke af’ when really those people are attempting to find a superiority complex within themselves. What is telling people to ‘stay woke‘ actually doing? Nothing. Everyone is aware, maybe of different things and environments, but I hate that ‘ woke‘ has been dwindled down to this concept almost to the exclusivity of only black people being able to say the n-word.
So after all of this, do I consider myself ‘
woke?’ Yes and no.
Yes because I am fully aware of what goes on in this country and my awareness isn’t just limited to social injustices in America, but everywhere. I’m also aware that we are all human beings that are scientifically proven to have a common ancestor from centuries ago and that we are not the only intelligent species that exists in the universe. I am also not ‘
woke‘ because how it is majorly accepted in today’s society is very limiting. The word derives from spiritual awakening, which Buddhists and other Eastern religions have made their foundation on seeking inner peace, tranquility and understanding. Essentially what is enlightenment.
I really hope this ‘
woke‘ trend is just that, a trend, and will die out eventually, but if you claim to be ‘ woke‘ and you wear it like a tattoo (not to mention, singer Kehlani decided to remove her ‘ woke‘ tattoo from her hand), I suggest you get some rest.