I’ve heard the term woke being thrown around in the media a lot lately. But why is being woke so controversial?
Woke is a slang term and is short for awake. Not physically awake, but mentally awake and consciously aware.
Some say that being “woke” is a reference to one’s logic, and awareness to social and political issues. However as you dig in, there’s more to being woke than just social and political issues.
Social and political issues are just complicated problems stemming from how people interact with other people and their environment.
Maybe being fully conscious of your environment (both locally and globally), understanding historical cause and effect relationships, and deep understanding of your own self-awareness, might also be part of being woke.
Being “woke” in not something new. Looking back in history, examples of “woke” are associated with gaining a deeper understanding to reality and becoming ‘enlightened’ to the bigger picture context.
You would think that being “woke” or becoming more aware should be seen as a positive thing. And it is a positive thing. But there’s also a danger in thinking you’re “woke” when you’re not and looking down on others who don’t poses the same level of understanding.
Like many subjects in the 21st century, being considered woke has become politicized and poorly misunderstood.
It’s time to lift the veil.
In this article we’ll take a look at the history of “wokeness”, what it means to be “woke” today, the dangers of politicizing “wokeness”, the future of “wokeness”, and the benefits of continuing to develop a deeper understanding of reality both past and present.
What is “Woke” ? A Slang Term For Awareness
Regardless of any political affiliation, being woke is being aware of reality, both past and present.
Truth has been strategically been held from the masses many times throughout history. Once the truth is uncovered, it is said that the population is waking up to reality.
I’ve seen so many people on Instagram claiming that they’re “woke” about certain political problems that they just learned of, but clearly missing the bigger picture when it comes to solutions.
Being aware or ‘woke” to the ’cause and effect’ relationship between past actions and present problems is an important part of deepening your understanding of reality.
However, being woke is not demonizing others who lack understanding. Being woke is understanding a problem and staying open minded about the best solution.
Being “woke” does not happen overnight on youtube or social media. True awareness is a lifelong process that never ends. You can always learn and understand more, and you can always be more aware than you think you are now.
Learning about the history and proposed solutions to certain social justice or political issues is a great start towards deepening your understanding of reality. But it’s important not to think you’re “woke” just because you spent a couple hours researching to understand 1 side of 1 issue.
Those who are truly knowledgable and aware (or “woke” ) have a complete understanding of themselves, their local and global environments , and a complete understanding of multiple perspectives on the same issues.
The History of Being “Woke”: Reality vs. Illusion
Becoming “Woke” is slang for becoming aware.
Aware of what?
Aware of reality both past and present.
Throughout history, masses of people have been strategically lied to by those in power for the purposes of manipulating the general understanding of reality.
History records show that ancient Pharaohs, Rulers, Kings, Governments and Institutions have all hid truths of reality from the masses for the sake of gaining power and control.
There are multiple instances documented in ancient Egypt when the masses have become conscious to the illusion of reality that they’ve been sold by the pharaoh’s in charge. Once fully aware of reality, change becomes necessary.
More recently, the “Wide Awake” political party was formed in the 1850’s in support of Lincoln and in support of ending the illusion that “slavery was necessary”.
As we know now, the actual reality is that slavery was not necessary and was just sold to the masses as a way for those in power to stay in power.
Once the majority of people “woke up” to the fact that slavery was wrong, change became necessary.
Has Woke Gone Too Far ?
Today, woke has become a staple of pop culture and a symbol of awareness towards social issues and racial injustice.
But has being “woke” gone too far ?
Particularly on social media formats – like lets say instagram, there are hashtags and communities of people claiming or portraying themselves as “woke”.
We don’t want to take away from these movements and a majority of people have a solid foundation in their research, historical context, and solution development.
BUT, there’s still a mass of people, who might have their heart in the right place, but need more information to see the true bigger picture.
Taking woke too far can stem from a few reasons. Fake news on social media, having flimsy mentors figures, not being disciplined enough to delve into research the correct way, and most importantly not thinking for yourself.
Reading and researching to become more aware of complex issues is important. But information overload and not being able to sort fact from fiction or truth, from half truth is CRITICAL to evolving your understanding for truth and reality.
Being Woke And Pop Culture
Influential in our music culture, The term woke was popularized by singer Erykah Badu’s 2008 hit song “Master Teacher” where the term “I stay Woke” was used in the chorus.
Woke was also used in Childish Gambino’s 2016 release of the #1 R&B song “redbone” which also mentions in the chorus “stay woke”
Being “woke” in the 21st century has evolved into a conscious overseeing of a variety of social issues and injustices that have plagued the US as and the global society for centuries.
Pop culture is spreading awareness so people can start to “wake up” to many systemic issues including but not limited to …
- Power Abuse by Police
- Sexual Misconduct in the Workplace
- Systemic Racism
- Corporate Tax Evasion
- Political Corruption
- Global Warming
Political Backlash of “Being Woke”
Becoming more aware of reality can be life changing for some people, especially for those who have been in denial of reality, or had no resources to understand they’ve been given the wrong information.
For example, if you still believe in the tooth fairy in high school and you wake up to the reality that the tooth fairy isn’t real, it can cause a powerful shift in your perspective on life.
You might not trust your parents, you might start to question other things in your reality, or you might go into denial and refuse not to believe in the tooth fairy.
Becoming more aware of deeper issues in our society can have large impacts on how we perceive reality.
Some of the issue mentioned above (like Corporate tax evasion, political corruption, and systemic racism) have billions of dollars at stake when it comes to enacting change.
So when someone becomes aware of these issues, there is large incentive to discredit those who stand up and speak up about injustices. There are politicians and political donors who spend BILLIONS of dollars fighting beneficial change and demonizing people who stand up.
The problem we face now is that “wokeness” is being demonized when deepened understanding and awareness should be praised.
No matter what political affiliation you have, you should be able to agree that spending time to read about and understand multiple perspectives in order to deepen your understanding for reality should not be demonized.
Woke is the answer to understanding the problems we face together. Now we must all work together to find solutions.
The Future of Woke – A Deeper Understanding
What is the future of being “woke” ?
We can ask a “magic 8 ball” or we can look back into the past and look how History tends to repeat itself.
The “Wide Awake” party in the 1850’s lead to positive change and the abolition of slavery in 1865. They had a deeper awareness for reality and caused a resulting positive change.
Looking at all the issues facing our global civilization today, being “woke” is only the start. Once you’re awake (or consciously aware) of the issues at hand, that by itself is not enough.
You must really understand the issues, the roadblocks, and all proposed solutions from all angles. Politics is a game of defining problems and coming up with common solutions.
If history repeats itself, being “woke” today is just the start towards a deeper understanding of the problems and solutions of tomorrow.
Conclusion: What’s “Woke”
When you hear the term “woke” it’s a reference to being consciously aware to the bigger picture of a particular issue.
Being “woke” is not something new, but a repeating trend in history which is an integral part of enacting positive change.
When it comes to being woke, it’s critical to understand that social and political problems and not simple problems with simple solutions. We must strive to understand the problems from all angles and perspectives before we propose a solutions.
When we do find a solution, we must be flexible with our ideas and not demonize others who have a different idea.