How A Simple Term Like Woke Became Subverted By The Racists It Seeks To Oppose

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  • Words are not static things. the meaning of a word can be fluid and shift over time. That's how languages evolve. 1960's hippies used to say "far out" or "groovy" but they eventually fell out of fashion. The evolution of language is perfectly natural, and usually it's a positive process – but in this era of culture warring and pitting ideologies and identities against each other, the shift of words with racial meanings holds greater significance, and this is exactly what has happened with the word ‘woke’.


    The original meaning of ‘woke’ was to be awake to social injustice – particularly injustices about race. But its meaning has been hijacked and subverted by the racists themselves.


    If you follow Piers Morgan on Twitter or watch Good Morning Britain with any regularity, you won’t have missed his penchant for the word. He seems to find a way to shoehorn it into most debates (Is Bibbles Piers Morgan in disguise..?), and it is always used as a criticism. The presenter is so fond of using the word ‘woke’, he even argued with radio host James O’Brian about its true meaning. For Piers, and those who think like him, ‘woke’ is a negative attribute. It’s a pejorative term used to ridicule liberal ideologies and position them - and subtly, the people they refer to (ie: black people) - as inferior.


    Twisting the meaning of this word in this way is specifically damaging to people of colour because, the origins of ‘woke’ are so inextricably tied up in recognising and fighting racism. If being ‘woke’ is a bad thing, the subtext is that speaking out about racial inequalities is a bad thing and even more subliminally, being a person of colour is a bad thing. The racism is hidden behind the veil of mocking the word, but the meaning is there.


    Despite the recent spike in its usage, ‘woke’ is not a new word. It was first used in the 1940s and was created as a political term by black Americans. The expression ‘stay woke’ suggested a need to continually check in with your own awareness of these issues. Wokeness was associated with black Americans fighting racism, which is why it was so prevalent in the civil rights era. It appeared in the headline of a 1962 New York Times article, ‘If You’re Woke You Dig It” by William Melvin Kelley, and was even used by Martin Luther King.


    Recently though, and In just a few short years, the meaning and connotations of the word have been shifted. Linguistics professor Jonathan Charteris-Black, from UWE Bristol, said "it could be, in part, down to what is lost in transatlantic translation. In other words, this American word just doesn’t sit right with British mindsets. It could be to do with the different cultural attitudes."


    "In California, saying that you’re “woke” and proudly putting yourself out there as a socially enlightened person might be an OK thing to do. Whereas in Britain, we tend not to like the peg that sticks out. So our way of pushing it back down again is through irony".


    Of course, words and phrases change their meaning all the time. The professor points to ‘right on’ as an example that followed a similar trajectory to ‘woke’. In the 1960s, ‘right on’ was a positive thing, a compliment. But when several right-wing journalists with popular papers (Notably Richard Littlejohn in The Sun) started to associate it with negative connotations, accusing socially aware liberals as being ‘too right on’, or labelling socially aware liberals as "right-on lefties", people started to use the phrase with a roll of the eyes. The professor explains that these kinds of shifts happen when other groups who oppose a cause (Ie: racists who oppose the doctrine of racial equality) feel challenged by the impact it is having and seek to damage it.


    The subversion of ‘woke’ is political and aims to denigrate the word to perpetuate the very injustices it sought to eradicate in the first place. This word has power, and the people who subvert it and use it as a weapon for their own purposes are all too aware of the underlying connotations of racial and social ideologies. It is used to undermine and disparage the voices committed to fighting for social justice and the rights of minorities – and to silence these views without engaging with them.


    The racists don't like 'woke' because they're scared of it.

  • "Woke" is just one of those trendy expressions so beloved of the overtly snowflake sections of society. It means awareness but doesn't define exactly what. It's a bit like The BLM expression which implies that no other colour of skin matters except Black. In fact it could be described as Racist in the extreme. People should be careful when they invent expressions which favour just one section of society as it denigrates all the others.

  • Woke means nothing more to me than 'I woke up in the morning'. In the context it's being used it can't be racist because it's not a word used in the right context anyhow so invalid and total nonsense. There would be more value to learning Russian instead of making fairytales and butchering the English language.

  • To both of you, I refer you back to my OP. I explained what Woke is, when it originated and the context in which it came about.


    Read this (it's in the OP):


    ‘woke’ is not a new word. It was first used in the 1940s and was created as a political term by black Americans. The expression ‘stay woke’ suggested a need to continually check in with your own awareness of these issues. Wokeness was associated with black Americans fighting racism, which is why it was so prevalent in the civil rights era. It appeared in the headline of a 1962 New York Times article, ‘If You’re Woke You Dig It” by William Melvin Kelley, and was even used by Martin Luther King.


    It isn't a new or "trendy" word. It's been around for 80 years. I couldn't be clearer in explaining its origins and the context its American founder intended it to be used in. What is so difficult about understanding something explained in such simple terms...??


    I've quoted a professor of linguistics who has made it quite plain that this is an Americanism and as such is different to what the British would usually use:


    Linguistics professor Jonathan Charteris-Black, from UWE Bristol, said "it could be, in part, down to what is lost in transatlantic translation. In other words, this American word just doesn’t sit right with British mindsets. It could be to do with the different cultural attitudes."


    "In California, saying that you’re “woke” and proudly putting yourself out there as a socially enlightened person might be an OK thing to do. Whereas in Britain, we tend not to like the peg that sticks out. So our way of pushing it back down again is through irony".


    It seems that you don't actually read posts before replying to them. Or if you do, the message is not within your range of comprehension. Is that correct..? I'm writing things to people who either have the intellectual capacity and attention span of a fruit fly, or are so rigidly dismissive of anything that doesn't fit their narrow world view they can't even contemplate anything that doesn't fit that narrative. Which is it..? You tell me.



    I can understand Mike Murphy being either deliberately obtuse or just plain incapable of understanding something that a ten year old could grasp, but Norra, I thought you had a bit more nous about you.

  • Perhaps if you were to refrain from personal insults against other forum members, people would actually be interested in what you spout on about. :P

  • Honestly your right I didn't read all the post because I don't want to pollute and influence myself with it. So it comes from America then...well that explains a lot and yet again it's more butchering of British English in favour of American English and slang. Before we know it we will be behaving like them......oh hold on. We're British not American and Americans are certainly nothing to look up to, admire and aim to learn from, especially when it comes to their political movements and outlook on how life should be. It's bad enough that we have them invading the world with their tech and subtle indoctrination into becoming American with language set by default to US English and spell checks correcting British English into US. We're already feeding our economy in their direction. You see they are not only invading countries and starting wars but they are trying to indoctrinate other countries culturally and via trade to feed their war machine.

  • The racists don't like 'woke' because they're scared of it.

    I don't think so.


    They don't like it because it represents a way of thinking which is divisive and corrosive to the fabric and well being of established norms, perpetuated by Marxist Activists like yourself using race, gender, sexuality, culture and religion to create anger, dissatisfaction and uprising.


    It is a wedge being driven into a crack that was already healing to drive it open again.


    Woke does nothing to solve problems it makes them worse.

    Celebrate it, Anticipate it, Yesterday's faded, Nothing can change it, Life's what you make it

  • Woke means nothing more to me than 'I woke up in the morning'. In the context it's being used it can't be racist because it's not a word used in the right context anyhow so invalid and total nonsense. There would be more value to learning Russian instead of making fairytales and butchering the English language.

    In the context of the sentence you used, Norra, you would be right. You're using the past tense to describe the act of awakening.


    But I went to great lengths in my OP to explain the etymology of the way in which it was adopted by African Americans. That places an altogether different meaning to the word.


    Lots of words have subtle or even overt differences of meaning. eg: Train. A train can be something you take a journey in to get to work. It could also be a long attachment to the rear of a bridal veil. It could also mean to practice for a sport. "I train weekly to improve my netball skills". All perfectly valid usages of the same word.


    I'm afraid that your comment suggests to me an attitude of wilful and deliberate ignorance. You refuse to see something that is reasonable and valid in order to avoid confronting the issue itself.


    Are you scared of what you'll see in your own attitudes if you were to give some time and thought to it..?

  • Perhaps if you were to refrain from personal insults against other forum members, people would actually be interested in what you spout on about. :P

    And perhaps if you were to engage in a discussion with an open mind and perhaps even read the post before rushing to dismiss it, that conversation might be possible.


    I respond to how you put yourself across. All the information was there. I'd written it for you to read but it was quite clear that you hadn't, or if you had, you completely ignored all the relevant points. That makes any criticisms of you as a debater quite valid.


    Say something sensible for once and you'd be taken a little more seriously.

  • I woke up got out of bed....dragged a comb across my head.....found my way downstairs and had a smoke somebody spoke and I went into a dream Laaaaaa laaaaa laaaaa

    John Lennon would have been 80 this year. Auntie isbroadcasting a series of programmes dedicated to the great man next week. I'll be watching them avidly.


    But, what a song that Lennon and McCartney wrote about the death of Guinness heiress Tara Brown has to do with the topic at hand eludes me. I did find a reference to "4000 holes in Blackburn Lancashire" though:



    snip:


    Lennon wrote the song's final verse inspired by a Far & Near news brief, in the same 17 January edition of the Daily Mail that had inspired the first two verses. Under the headline "The holes in our roads", the brief stated: "There are 4,000 holes in the road in Blackburn, Lancashire, or one twenty-sixth of a hole per person, according to a council survey. If Blackburn is typical, there are two million holes in Britain's roads and 300,000 in London."


    In his lyrics, Lennon mentions the Royal Albert Hall as a symbol of Victorian - era London and a concert venue usually associated with classical music performances.


    The story had been sold to the Daily Mail in Manchester by Ron Kennedy of the Star News agency in Blackburn. Kennedy had noticed a Lancashire Evening Telegraph story about road excavations and in a telephone call to the Borough Engineer's department had checked the annual number of holes in the road. Lennon had a problem with the words of the final verse, however, not being able to think of how to connect "Now they know how many holes it takes to" and "the Albert Hall". His friend Terry Doran suggested that the holes would "fill" the Albert Hall, and the lyric was eventually used.



    Your quotation is an interesting little diversion to the thread, Norra, but doesn't really do much to further the topic at hand. Ho-hum.




    PS.... Love the orchestral crescendo and the sustained piano chord at the end. It's almost like a sort of 'musical orgasm'.... If you know what I mean.

    • Official Post

    The whole Sgt Pepper album was way ahead of its time. It still doesn’t sound dated over 40 years later. A superb piece of work.


    John Lennon went down in my estimation with his politics, though!

  • The whole Sgt Pepper album was way ahead of its time. It still doesn’t sound dated over 40 years later. A superb piece of work.


    John Lennon went down in my estimation with his politics, though!

    John Lennon was basically a hippie from the latter days of the Beatles till his untimely death. The years of fame, fortune, the continual touring and his own impoverished upbringing made him what he was, he was a singing poet.


    He married an activist in Yoko Ono and this is why his/her political views burst into public view. Most likely it was her views he extolled in his lyrics, he’d managed very well before he met her but as is often the way she changed him.


    Not uncommon for Beatles fans not to like Lennon songs or vice versa.

    Celebrate it, Anticipate it, Yesterday's faded, Nothing can change it, Life's what you make it

    Edited once, last by Armitage Shanks ().

    • Official Post

    John Lennon was basically a hippie from the latter days of the Beatles till his untimely death. The years of fame, fortune, the continual touring and his own impoverished upbringing made him what he was, he was a singing poet.


    He married an activist in Yoko Ono and this is why his/her political views burst into public view. Most likely it was her views behind extolled in his lyrics, he’d managed very well before he met her but as is often the way she changed him.


    Not uncommon for Beatles fans not to like Lennon songs or vice versa.

    I like pretty well all of the stuff he wrote while with The Beatles, but he certainly went off on a tangent with the Plastic Ono Band and his subsequent solo stuff.


    I had great hopes when the band broke up that we would benefit from more albums from the four of them, but alas it was all a big disappointment. They were at their best working together.


    I was impressed with George Harrison’s triple album, though! The only politicised song he wrote up to that time I think was ‘Taxman’, although that was just a protest about the amount of money being collected from them. He was well into religion, though, and that did come through.

  • All this wokeness rubbish is destroying a principle which the UK has always held in great respect. That principle is :- "Freedom of thought and speech". It's getting to the stage that many people in this country are reluctant to speak in case some idiotic Wokey individual reports the conversation to the thought police.

    Time to open up conversations so that all views can be expressed openly. The only exception being when somebody calls for physical violence against another.

  • All this wokeness rubbish is destroying a principle which the UK has always held in great respect. That principle is :- "Freedom of thought and speech". It's getting to the stage that many people in this country are reluctant to speak in case some idiotic Wokey individual reports the conversation to the thought police.

    Time to open up conversations so that all views can be expressed openly. The only exception being when somebody calls for physical violence against another.

    Those holding back only do so because they now know that what they want to say is something to be ashamed of and will no longer be tolerated in a society that wants to throw out hatred, racism, homophobia, and all the other disgraceful things that I suspect you would like to prevail.


    Freedom of speech is, indeed, a wonderful thing and should be everybody's right. However, with rights comes the responsibility to speak decently, with civility, and with respect and regard for the just - and equally important - rights of others to live their lives free from fear and without having to suffer abuse, intolerance, hatred and oppression.


    Freedom of speech should not only be guarded as a right to be enjoyed, but also as a right to be protected. Protected from being abused by those who would hide behind such a civil liberty and use it as an excuse to sow hatred.


    The sort of "freedom of speech" that you demand is the sort of hatred that needs to be challenged and made unacceptable.


    Put your civil liberties to the purpose for which they were intended and you will be listened to and treated with respect. If you abuse them, you will be made to feel the disgust and opprobrium* of the vast majority of society who find abuse repugnant.







    *

    Harsh criticism or censure. Public disgrace arising from shameful conduct.

  • Those stupid Wokey types only want restricted conversations so that only they alone can spew their racial bile against indigenous peoples without any opportunity for the decent indigenous majority to be able to reply.

    I draw the line at anybody from either side inciting physical assault against a person ---but---- the old adage " Sticks and stones may break my bone but names will never hurt me" should be the order of the day. Obviously this adage is seen as perfect common sense by those Intelligent people in society.

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