Disney, M&Ms, the Oscars, electric cars and, especially, cancel culture has been referred to as “woke,” and the people perpetuating these beliefs the “woke mob.” But where does this term come from?

What is ‘woke’?

Merriam-Webster states that “woke,” an American slang, means “aware of and actively attentive to important facts and issues (especially issues of racial and social justice).”

Meanwhile, the Oxford dictionary describes it as an alertness “to racial or social discrimination and injustice,” as previously reported by Jennifer Graham.

The word, first printed in a New York Times essay in 1962 traditionally meant “conscious” and “aware,” according to Fox News.

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“Originally slang used by Black Americans, the word became part of the national lexicon in the past few years. But its meaning has already changed, and there is a divide in how the word is perceived, a divide that is both political and generational,” wrote Graham early last year.

It’s a term progressives and liberals aspire to be while conservatives view it as akin to a joke, and sometimes, a social evil, like cancel culture, she added.

What is the ‘woke mob’?

Blake Masters, an Arizona Republican running for U.S. Senate, said during his appearance at the Turning Point Action rallies that he hopes his state can follow in Florida’s footsteps.

“Thanks to Mark Kelly, Arizonans have none of the basics — a secure border, safe streets, functioning economy, or schools that actually teach our kids,” he said, according to Politico. “By contrast, look at everything Gov. Ron DeSantis has done for Floridians to keep their state strong, safe, and free of the woke mob.”

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The term “woke mob” used here, and typically, describes an outraged group that can take away a person’s job or social standing because of a statement or action, wrote Graham.

Is the term ‘woke’ divisive?

Elon Musk, the Telsa CEO, sat down with The Babylon Bee, the satirical publication, late last year to talk about “wokeness.”

“Wokeness basically wants to make comedy illegal,” Musk said. “Trying to shut down Chappelle, come on, man, that’s crazy. Do we want a humorless society that is simply rife with condemnation and hate basically? At its heart, wokeness is divisive, exclusionary, and hateful. It basically gives mean people a shield to be mean and cruel, armored in false virtue,” Musk said.

But the term can mean different things to different people. The term was also adopted by the Black Lives Matter and #MeToo movement, becoming a symbol of strength and activism, according to a published research paper.

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Some people believe “wokeness” raises awareness while others believe it has gone to an extreme.

Will the term ‘woke’ be used by other countries for identity politics?

One question that isn’t often asked, said Tyler Cowan, an economics professor at Virginia’s George Mason University, “is whether the U.S. will be able to deploy this new intellectual tool for exporting American cultural influence.”

The French government established a Laboratory of the Republic with the goal of defending “humanism and universalism” against wokeism in October 2021.

Yet, a Bloomberg opinion piece deemed the phenomenon “the next great U.S. cultural export.”

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