https://www.cnn.com/2022/07/10/us/woke- ... index.htmlThe new season of “United Shades of America with W. Kamau Bell” kicks off in Arizona with an investigation into the origins of “woke” and the debate over critical race theory in schools. The series premieres Sunday at 10 p.m. ET.
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Once upon a time, many decades ago, “woke” was a term used mostly in Black spaces to underscore the importance of keeping a close eye on patterns of racism and oppression.
Language evolves, though, and sometimes in sinister ways.
Over the years, “woke” has lived other lives: as a rallying cry against police brutality, as an ironic meme and now as an imprecise term used to decry progressive action.
Consider that, just this month, Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis’ Stop WOKE Act went into effect. Among other things, the legislation is designed to quash instruction about race in schools and in the workplace.
To chart the transformation of “woke” ahead of the return on Sunday of the CNN Original Series, “United Shades of America with W. Kamau Bell,” which in the season premiere explores what’s going on with “woke,” I chatted with deandre a. miles-hercules, a linguistics scholar at the University of California, Santa Barbara. During our conversation, which has been lightly edited for length and clarity, we also examined how powerful words can be defanged and distorted.
What are some of the earliest instances of people using “woke”?
By using the term “woke” however they want, conservatives have muddied its meaning, have obfuscated it to refer to anything having to do with progressivism they don’t like. The same goes for “critical race theory.” They’ve done it with so many terms. “Identity politics” is another one.