Many conservative politicians have been using the term 'woke policies' to suppress liberal and even mainstream ideas as of late. None more so than the subject of yesterday's blog, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. We all see what he is doing and what he wants to inflict on the rest of the nation should he become an elected national figure.
Has he ever delved into the origin of the term? Personally, I think he has. What he is now doing is bastardizing the idea to inflict the very harm it was initially used to warn against. Let's go back a ninety years.
Black American folk singer-songwriter Huddie Ledbetter, a.k.a. Lead Belly, used the phrase "stay woke" as part of a spoken afterward to a 1938 recording of his song "Scottsboro Boys", which tells the story of nine black teenagers and young men falsely accused of raping two white women in Alabama in 1931. In the recording, Lead Belly says he met with the defendant's lawyer and the young men themselves, and "I advise everybody, be a little careful when they go along through there (Scottsboro) – best stay woke, keep their eyes open." Aja Romano writes at Vox that this usage reflects "Black Americans' need to be aware of racially motivated threats and the potential dangers of white America".
He tells the story in this Smithsonian recording:
His was a message to Black people of the dangers of white America. Here we are so many years later and conservatives are using it as a pejorative and an insult. So much so that when asked what their definition is, they don't have a coherent answer. Case in point:
This is why I tell journalism students that open-ended questions are better than questions that sound tough. When conservatives first hijacked “woke,” every journalist should have asked them to define it. Cause these meltdowns would have happened a lot.
The only people who use the term as an insult are white and probably straight. Woke is the 'War on Christmas' on steroids. Conservatives are hooked on the white powder that we all see far too much of these days, namely White National Supremacy. Every law they pass to squash the 'woke Agenda' is nothing more than laws to suppress marginalized people. It used to be a term for Black people to stay safe. Now it's a term against them but also includes LGBTQ+, immigrants, and women(off the top of my head).
The woman in the video above may not know what she's talking about. Ron DeSantis and other acolytes of the TFG know exactly what they are doing and it's far more dangerous than many people realize.