Understanding Woke

Offering a definition of ‘woke’ as it is expressed today, alongside reflections on concerns, consequences, and how we should respond.

What is woke?
What are the concerns?
What could we do?
Quiz: how woke are you?

What does woke mean?

Woke is an ideology that upholds the primacy of identity group experience, and enforces it by emphasizing moral purity and discomfort avoidance.

There are three core pillars:

Of course, woke is a spectrum, and these characteristics expressed to their full extent capture the end of that spectrum. (try the quiz!) It’s also worth noting that the term woke has etymological origins that differ from the above: we’re focused on providing a practical definition of how it takes shape in society today.

1. Primacy of identity group experience

The most defining characteristic of an individual is the identify group they are a member of. The most important kind of knowledge is that gained through lived experience in that identity. If you aren’t of a relevant identity, your point of view isn’t relevant. Being of a certain identity confers a specific type of knowledge for every person of that identity. The rights and perspectives of those that have experienced the most severe oppression are the most important.

2. Moral Purity

In order to be “ok” you must be perfect. If you have an imperfection, or have done something wrong, your voice doesn’t have legitimacy. No person (or organization) can ever be doing “enough”. When progress is made, the focus is on what is not being done, over what has been improved. A past mistake leaves one irredeemable and deserving of punishment, no matter the apologies, learning or future good done.

3. Discomfort avoidance

If a discussion causes discomfort or causes offense to a marginalized group, it should be avoided. It is more important to avoid discomfort than to discuss issues. 

PS. Read the latest news about woke discourse here.

We’d love to continue the conversation. Give us your email and we’ll be in touch.