How the Word ‘Woke’ Was Co-Opted And Weaponized – WDET

Posted: November 3, 2021 at 10:02 am

Modern conservative use of the word woke taps into a larger societal backlash againstsocial justice movements and efforts to confront racism. Its a word that means something very different now than it did just a few years ago in the Blackcommunity.

Woke initially came out of the Black community It meant that, if you were saying stay woke or be woke there was a kind of seriousness and playfulness, that you need to be aware of the social conditions of America to surviveit. Joshua Adams,journalist

Broader attitudes toward wokeness invoke similarly co-opted and weaponized concepts such as cancel culture and political correctness. But when we dig deeper into the meaning of the word and how it is used by conservatives and most white Americans, it becomes clear that the wordhas lost all of its original meanings in order to create a new slur to be leveled against progressives and AfricanAmericans.

Joshua Adams is ajournalist whowrote a piece for Colorlines in May titled How Woke Became a Slur.

He says that language is incredibly important in the Black community.African American vernacular English comes out of the slave experience, he says. Black people couldnt learn the language formally We had to learn it through the ear. He also notes the necessity for slaves to be able to communicate in ways that slave owners couldntunderstand.

Woke initially came out of the Black community, says Adams. It meant that, if you were saying stay woke or be woke there was a kind of seriousness and playfulness, that you need to be aware of the social conditions of America to surviveit.

Damon Youngis co-founder of Very Smart Brothas, author of the memoir What Doesnt Kill You Makes You Blacker.He wrote a piece in The New York Times in 2019 titled, In Defense ofWoke.

Hesays, although the meaning of the word has changed for people who arent Black, the meaning hasnt changed as much for AfricanAmericans.

For Black people, woke still has the same connotation as someone who has consciousness, but maybe takes that consciousness too far, Youngexplains, someone who maybe believes conspiracy theories, who maybe shows a more performativeBlackness.

Young says conservatives like toco-optand weaponizeterms that begin in the Blackcommunity.

They are very effective at distilling these complex ideas around a single word and galvanizing support around the use of that single word, he says.Its easier to rail against something than to createsomething.

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How the Word 'Woke' Was Co-Opted And Weaponized - WDET

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