It's Official: 'Woke' Is Being Added To The Oxford English Dictionary

And no, we don't mean in terms of sleep.

When we hear the term woke, there are a few celebrities that instantly come to mind; Erykah Badu, Amandla Stenberg, Jesse Williams, and Zendaya to name a few.

We’ve been using the term woke in our everyday vocabulary, in countless hashtags, and ESSENCE even covered a hundred woke women on the cover and throughout the pages of its May 2017 issue.

RELATED: Did You Miss These Woke Moments From The 2017 BET Awards?

The term woke — made popular by Badu herself in her New Amerykah Part One album — is now getting its due respect in the Oxford English Dictionary.

By the mid-20th century, woke had been extended figuratively to refer to being ‘aware’ or ‘well informed’ in a political or cultural sense,” says the Oxford English Dictionary (OED). “In the past decade, that meaning has been catapulted into mainstream use with a particular nuance of ‘alert to racial or social discrimination and injustice’ popularized through the lyrics of the 2008 song Master Teacher by Erykah Badu, in which the words ‘I stay woke’ serve as a refrain, and more recently through its association with the Black Lives Matter movement, especially on social media.

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The OED further explained, “This well established but newly prominent usage of woke has become emblematic of the ways in which black American culture and language are adopted by non-black people who don’t always appreciate their full historical and cultural context. It is therefore of particular interest that the earliest citation for woke, adj. in the figurative sense comes from a 1962 article by the African-American novelist William Melvin Kelley in the New York Times, entitled ‘If you’re woke, you dig it’, which describes how white beatniks were appropriating black slang at the time.”

In recent years, staying woke has become practically necessary in order to speak out and stand up for injustices against the Black community, so this is definitely a win!

SHOW TRANSCRIPT

To me, being woke means that you recognize that the world is not a simple place, that everything is not all equal, that justice has not happened yet for everyone. And that there's a lot of work to be done. [MUSIC] Your eyes are wide open and you're paying attention. And you're reaching out, and speaking to people along the way, and bringing them on. To increase the amount of wokeness in your community. Being woke is like eyes wide open, everything is clear. You can always see things that other people can just ignore or they just don't know. Woke for me is just being outraged all the time and being able to stay human and feel outraged about injustice that is happening around me. It's being uncomfortable all the time. And making sure that I'm speaking on behalf of those that can't speak out for themselves. Some people know what's happening around them, but they are not doing anything. Right. They're just like, well, it is what it is. Yeah. That's not what woke means, that you actually Take it upon yourself to be like, this is something I need to fix. I need to be part of the solution. And the other thing is, to do that knowing that you can fix it, whatever your level of platform is, there's always an opportunity for you to do just a little something to support them. I also think about what words actually mean, and how we give them power, right? Are you just going to wear it across your chest, but actually not live it out, or are you going to give this word a meaning with your actions? With your daily commitment. And I think in order for us to really progress, we're gonna need people to really step out of their comfort zones, and have those uncomfortable conversations, and not just live in a space where they get to preach to people who already understand what it means. Couldn't agree more. I think to be woke means that you are aware of the issues and the world around [MUSIC] [UNKNOWN] I believe it means that you are engaged in the work of justice. This is a time where we just, we can't afford to be asleep. We have to be all the way alert. Without action on the knowledge that we have now, our world will never change. And we need that more than ever. [MUSIC]
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Filed under: Culture