The word woke is not the first of its kind, and it obviously won’t be the last too. Throughout history, so many words have been used to define things beyond their literal meanings. Politicians, musicians, conspiracy theorists; they have all used several words to express how the masses are ignorant of the events that breaking forth all around them. Woke is simply one of the more recent of these words.
History has recorded the first instance the word was used, and it was way back in the year 1962 in the New York Times magazine. This was the same era where the novelist William Melvin Kelley first defined woke in the modern interpretation we now understand it to be: acute awareness of the political and social environment.
Woke as We Now Understand It
It is said the rise in popularity of woke coincided with the BlackLivesMatter movement which gained traction back in the year 2003. This movement aimed to sensitize the public about societal vices such as police brutality and racism. Of course the black community has always been on the receiving end of these vices more than any other, so ‘woke’ became something more synonymous with black life and culture than any other. It didn’t spread on to encompass the wider world until much later.

The BlackLivesMatter movement that gained momentum after the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin preaches much the same message ‘staying woke’ does. Being woke means to look beyond the obvious and see the underlying truth. It reminds people to never accept the given narrative without personally examining it. The old adage ‘there’s more to this than meets the eye’ couldn’t be more true here.

Being woke tells us this: What our eyes immediately see is rarely ever the truth. Truth and justice lie beyond what is apparent, and the only path to them is by scrutiny of the life we live. There is more than a single reality to life, and woke is the path to reaching that alternate reality. ‘Stay woke’ is not just a mere phrase. It’s far more than that. Stay woke is an indispensable weapon against the blissful ignorance plaguing daily life.