What does it mean to “be woke”?
Let’s start at the beginning. The term “woke” comes from American English and means “to be awake”. It appeared in the US in the 2010s, on Twitter in particular with the hashtag #StayWoke. How did this word come about? Initially, it was the African-American community that started using it to denounce social inequalities and injustices. Being woke means being aware of all the problems, stereotypes, and self-fulfilling prophecies, to which minorities are victims.
👉 The term has expanded to also include LGBTQIA+ rights, anti-racism, feminism, etc. It’s therefore about putting forward progressive and more open-minded ideas so that there’s equality for everyone.
A term criticized by the most conservative
Now, woke thinking is debated and instrumentalized on TV by the conservative right. For them, it endangers “true values”... François Cusset, professor of American civilization, explains that there are worse things than this lack of open-mindedness. Indeed, conservatives have attributed responsibility for the violence, such as feminicide, to “woke” people, when in fact the latter are the victims 🙃! For example, they blame violence against women on people from people of color and minority communities. Although these same people experience another form of violence through racism...
A term that’s become a catch-all
And beyond the political aspect, the term has become a catch-all. Anne Toulouse, a specialist in American politics, explains that it’s become a fashionable phenomenon. We even see companies calling themselves “wokist” to try and seduce younger people who identify with the movement, so they can sell their products better 🙄... So it’s become a communication tool that takes away from the essential questions posed by the movement initially. The more it goes on, the more we lose what the communities wanted to denounce in the first place because of marketing reappropriation.
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What should we hold on to about the woke movement?
In the end, the term was rejected by those who started using it. For African-American journalist Sam Sanders, the word has been rendered meaningless. By being repeatedly said, it’s been picked up by ultra-conservatives and opportunists, who weren’t really interested in people who are discriminated against. So it’s hard to call yourself a woke person today, because you may end up feeling the wrath of everyone.
Personally, I don’t mind being called woke, because I know what the origin of the word is and above all what my values are. And I think that’s what we should remember, the original values of this thought. You don’t have to consider yourself woke and shout about it, especially if you don’t have solid self-assertion and struggle making comebacks 😖.
Deconstruction work to be done besides a word
Being woke means being aware of the problems of others. It’s a way of putting yourself in the “shoes” of others to experience what they go through. It’s therefore a work of empathy to question the difficulties encountered by others in their daily lives.
We do deconstruction work of our own judgment and our behavior to do the best we can, so as not to be a toxic person. Of course, we need to be careful and not believe we’re in a child’s fantasy world by developing a savior syndrome 😅. Protecting yourself is important, but it’s about deconstructing collective thinking that locks up minorities and perpetuates violence.
Being conscious of your privileges
However, in order to deconstruct, we need to be able to question ourselves as individuals and question our privilege.
👉 As an overweight woman, I already experience a lot of violence (sexism and fat-phobia). Nevertheless, my skin color still gives me privileges compared to a person of color. It’s straight white cisgender men who have the most advantages, but they’re the ones who have the most difficulty being aware of this. Hence, there are too many men who still think they’re alpha males 😩...
In short, woke thinking is strongly criticized, but I think that we need to detach ourselves from the word in order to build an open and kind mind. This way, we get rid of the toxicity that can plunge us into unhappiness caused by the toxic behavior of others!
Editor’s note: A frightening context
Thanks to Lauren, you now know all about the term woke. Do injustices and inequalities cause you suffering? Does the world we live in make you anxious? Make an appointment with a psychologist to talk about it and to implement new habits that will allow you to live happier. Don’t forget that everything we don’t say leaves a mark...
🤗 Understanding yourself, accepting yourself, being happy... It’s here and now!
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