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“Woke” Has Lost All Of Its Meaning – SXU Student Media


The woke mob has struck again this week, inflicting more of its anti-American propaganda onto the world of entertainment. At least that’s what I read in the Facebook comments under The Simpsons’ announcement that Bart’s new teacher will be voiced by Scandal star Kerry Washington. 

Yep, just in case you still have faith in the future of American political discourse, people are genuinely upset that a minor Simpsons character, whose voice actress died nine years ago, is being replaced by a black actress. 

Here are some things that have been accused of “wokeism” this week alone: Disney, Snickers bars, math books, Netflix, and that’s just to name a few. 

The earliest usage of the term “woke” in its current socio-political context, came in the 1938 folk song “Scottsboro Boys.” Sung by blues musician Huddie Ledbetter AKA Lead Belly, the song tells the true story of nine black youth falsely accused of raping two white girls on a freight train in 1931. Lead Belly ends the song with a spoken word piece advising any black people visiting the south to, “stay woke and keep their eyes open.”

So how did a term coined in a blues song in 1938 become the boogeyman that the Republican Party have made the centerpiece of their 2022 election strategy? Well despite the fact that “woke” has been a popular term in the African American vernacular for decades, it didn’t enter the mainstream lexicon until the mid 2010s. 

Until it was co-opted by the leftist movement, “woke” simply meant, “alert to racial prejudice and discrimination.”

The 2010s saw the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, which was created as a response to the seemingly never ending amount of police involved shootings of unarmed black men. The BLM movement helped to finally wake white America up to the racial injustices faced by African Americans. BLM becoming a mainstream movement helped usher “woke” into the mainstream culture

The mid 2010s also saw the rise of Trumpism. Donald Trump and his advisors sensed that a large portion of white America felt threatened by the progress of social and racial justice movements that had gained steam during the Obama years. 

The promise to “Make America Great Again” was in essence a promise to undo that progress. The Republican Party hopped onto the wave of white anxiety and rode it straight into The Oval Office. 

The Trump years and the anti-immigrant, anti-social justice sentiment that came of it only further fueled the leftist movement and its hunger for progress. 

During the Trump presidency, it seemed as though there was a new protest every week. Whether it was the women’s march, or marches for immigration, or gun control, or against police brutality, or just straight up rioting whenever a far right pundit showed up for a campus speech, the leftist movement had found its villain in Donald Trump and intended to make the most of it. 

It was during these years of protest that “woke” went from being indicative of an anti-racist point of view to being a sort of catch all word to describe/denigrate any and every idea that exists outside of the straight, white, Christian paradigm. 

With the midterm elections less than seven months away, conservatives desperate to take back The House and Senate, have chosen critical race theory and LGBT education as their latest scare tactic du jour, and if the Virginia gubernatorial race was any indication, it’s going to work like a charm.

So get ready to hear the words “woke mob” and “CRT” in every political ad you see until November 8. 



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