Consciousness in Action: The Role of Woke People in Social Justice Movements

In recent years, the term “woke” has become a part of our everyday lexicon. It describes those individuals who are conscious and aware of the racial injustice and inequality that exists in our society. Woke individuals have taken it upon themselves to use their knowledge and awareness to make a difference in the fight for social justice. As such, they have become an integral part of social justice movements, using their awareness and conscious thought to spark change in our world. In this blog post, we will explore the role of woke people in social justice movements and how their consciousness can be put into action.

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What is the definition of woke?

According to Merriam-Webster, woke is a slang term that refers to a person who is “alert to racial or social discrimination and injustice.” The term is often used to describe individuals who are conscious of the social issues and inequalities in society. It has become popular in recent years as more people have become aware of the need for greater social justice and equality. Being woke means being aware of the systemic injustices that affect marginalized communities and actively working towards addressing them. It also involves recognizing one’s own privilege and taking steps to dismantle systems of oppression. Being woke is more than just a buzzword – it is a commitment to social justice and a belief that change is possible.

How did the term originate?

The term “woke” has its roots in African-American Vernacular English (AAVE) and was originally used to describe a state of being awake, both physically and mentally. It later evolved to become a term for a person who is aware of and actively fights against social injustices such as racism, sexism, and homophobia.
Among the earliest uses of the idea of wokeness as a concept for Black political consciousness came from Jamaican philosopher and social activist Marcus Garvey,[4] who wrote in 1923, “Wake up Ethiopia! Wake up Africa!”[4][7]
The first documented use of the term “woke” in this context was in a 1962 essay by black novelist William Melvin Kelley titled “If You’re Woke You Dig It,” in which he used it to describe a heightened sense of awareness of social issues among young black people.
The term gained more widespread use in the 2010s with the rise of social media activism and the Black Lives Matter movement, where it became a popular term to describe those who were actively fighting against racial injustice.
Today, being woke has become synonymous with practicing conscious thought and being aware of the various forms of oppression in society. The term has also expanded beyond the black community and is now used more broadly to describe anyone actively fighting for social justice.
While some have criticized the term “woke” as performative or superficial, it is undeniable that the idea of being aware of and fighting against injustice has become increasingly important in modern social justice movements. As society continues to grapple with systemic issues such as racism, sexism, and ableism, being woke has become a necessary part of the fight for equality.
Being woke means actively seeking out information, challenging one’s own biases, and taking action to fight against inequality. This can take many forms, from participating in protests to speaking out against microaggressions in everyday life. Being woke also means being aware of one’s own privilege and using it to uplift marginalized voices.

What does it mean to be woke?

Being woke is a term used to describe individuals who are aware of the social, political, and economic inequalities that exist in society. A woke person understands the systems that perpetuate injustice and actively works to dismantle them. Being woke involves recognizing that racism, sexism, and other forms of discrimination are not only individual acts of prejudice but also deeply ingrained in our institutions and systems.
Being woke also means acknowledging the privilege that comes with certain identities, such as race, gender, and socio-economic status. It means using that privilege to advocate for those who are marginalized and working to uplift their voices.
Being woke is not just about awareness but also about taking action. It involves educating oneself about the issues and actively working to create change, whether through activism, donating to organizations, or having conversations with friends and family.
Overall, being woke is a lifelong process of learning and growing. It requires us to constantly challenge our own biases and actively work towards creating a more just and equitable world.

How can being woke help create social change?

When we use the term woke, we describe a person alert to racial prejudice and discrimination. In the context of social justice movements, being woke means that an individual is actively aware of systemic oppression and the role they play in dismantling it.
Being woke can help create social change in a few key ways. Firstly, woke individuals are aware of their own biases and prejudices, and they take steps to overcome them. By doing so, they become allies to marginalized communities and help to amplify their voices. They also have a better understanding of how oppression operates, which can help them identify systemic injustices and work towards dismantling them.
In addition, woke individuals tend to be more open-minded and inclusive. They actively seek out diverse perspectives and engage with people from different backgrounds, which helps to foster empathy and understanding. By building bridges across communities, they can bring people together and create a more unified movement for change.
Finally, being woke means that an individual is willing to take action. Whether attending a protest, signing a petition, or having difficult conversations with friends and family, woke people are committed to creating real-world change. By being active in social justice movements, they can help to shift public opinion and push for systemic change at the institutional level.
Overall, being woke is a crucial component of social justice movements. It helps to ensure that marginalized communities are heard and that their voices are included in the fight for change. By staying alert to issues of prejudice and discrimination and taking active steps to combat them, we can create a more just and equitable society for all.

Examples of woke people in social justice movements.

There have been numerous individuals who have exemplified what it means to be “woke” in the context of social justice movements. Here are just a few examples:

  1. Colin Kaepernick: The former NFL quarterback famously took a knee during the national anthem to protest police brutality and racial injustice. He faced significant backlash, but his protest helped spark a nationwide conversation about these issues.
  2. Tarana Burke: Burke founded the #MeToo movement to raise awareness about sexual assault and harassment. She coined the phrase “me too” in 2006, and the movement gained widespread attention in 2017.
  3. Mari Copeny: Known as “Little Miss Flint,” Copeny gained national attention for her activism in response to the Flint water crisis. She has met with political leaders, organized rallies and fundraisers, and continues to advocate for clean water for all.
  4. Emma González: After surviving the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in 2018, González became a vocal advocate for gun control. She co-founded Never Again MSD and helped organize the March for Our Lives protest.
  5. Patrisse Cullors: Cullors is one of the co-founders of Black Lives Matter, a movement that seeks to combat police brutality and systemic racism. She is also an advocate for prison reform.
    These individuals, among many others, demonstrate the power of being “woke” and using that awareness to create positive change in the world. Their activism and advocacy inspire others to become more conscious and active in the fight for social justice.


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Ubuntu Village will be traveling to Africa soon and we would like to document this trip and any other trips taken in a blog format.

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