Before you debate the word ‘woke,’ learn its history 

Phil Boas

Arizona Republic

Someday when the cultural moment that many have called “The Great Awokening” is finally, mercifully, over, Americans of all races should fight to give African Americans their word back.

Less than 10 years ago, “woke” was a word so deeply layered with history and meaning it could evoke years of pain suffered by descendants of slaves coming of age in Jim Crow America.

You don’t have to be African American, however, to feel its history. The word woke is seminal to our larger culture in ways most of us have never understood.

It’s one of the great words in American English and it should be preserved in its purest form. 

At the moment it is being hijacked by politics – first by white liberals, then by white conservatives. 

A battle over ‘woke’ in the Republican Party primary

This week the word “woke” is igniting a family spat within the 2024 Republican primary for president, pitting Donald Trump against his former apprentice, Ron DeSantis. 

DeSantis, the Florida governor, uses the word frequently to describe an ideology steeped in identity politics that has taken over our universities, media, large corporations, medicine, arts, entertainment and sports. 


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June 2023