In her song, “Master Teacher”, Erykah Badu constantly referred to the phrase “I stay woke” to refer to a social awareness and consciousness of the realities of the world around her. This song was released in 2008 but it wasn’t until 2012 when the singer posted a tweet in support of the famed feminist Russian band “Pussy Riot” that the usage of the phrase “stay woke” went viral. With events unfolding and the shooting death of Trayvon Martin and the subsequent outrage at his murderer’s acquittal, the Black Lives Matter movement began and included #staywoke to convey and encourage awareness of issues facing the Black community in America.
However, “stay woke” has been hijacked and satirized, trivializing the struggles of the Black community as well as taking away from its original intent.
Read more about this on this Fusion.net article.
Unfortunately, enemies of the Black community and purveyors of White supremacy have used the hashtag to encourage what is quite literally bullshit about the Black Lives Matter movement while, at the same time, it has been appropriated as “teen slang” by a mainly white millennial social media populace.
As an ally of Black Lives Matter, seeing the repeating process of cultural appropriation of ethnic minorities and people of color is disappointing as it degrades the mission that the founders of Black Lives Matter and visionaries like Erykah Badu dedicate their lives to. To trivialize what originally meant to “be aware of injustice” and changing the meaning of the phrase to simply satirize the experiences of Black people and pop-culture slang cannot and should not be tolerated and those who purvey such nonsense should be called out immediately.
Black Lives Matter and its allies need to keep woke and stay woke. Anyone who believes in social justice needs to keep woke and stay woke. The things that woke us mean something and we cannot take it for granted and allow white supremacy and privilege to take over and diminish the value of the experiences of Black people, of other people of color, of queer people, of women, of anyone who is a member of a marginalized community. We need to “stay woke” as Erykah Badu intended.
If you truly intend to stay woke, take part in the movement! That starts by clicking here.