What Is Woke? Examples of Woke

By now, everyone has surely heard of the street slang term “wokeism.” Originally adopted by the African-American culture, “wokeism,” better known as “woke” is a term utilised in reference to racial discrimination and prejudice. African Americans believe they have been discriminated against since their enslaved ancestors arrived in the United States in 1619.

Ethnic groups, such as Hispanics, American Indians, Alaskan Natives, and Asians, also believe they are a target of prejudice and discrimination. Today, white people believe they are unfairly targeted by wokeism, a political agenda causing strife among all races.

What Does It Mean To Be Woke?

Many will question whether they’d fit into the woke category. The group primarily consists of liberal-minded individuals who are staunch advocates for social justice. While it is often associated with progressive activism, woke can also have cultural significance. In general, someone is considered to be woke when they are adamant about racial and social justice issues.

Although some argue that only members of the African American community can be woke, the term is frequently used to describe members of other groups. For instance, a woke white female may partake in Black Lives Matter marches or be a member of the LGBT community.

Alternatively, it could be a white man who supports reparations for African Americans. For right-wing people, woke is often used as a slur to criticise people they claim have taken these things too far.

Left VS Right Take On Woke

The term woke can be viewed differently depending on a person’s political beliefs. Someone on the left may call themselves woke if they support putting women in power, proudly display pride flags, or want safe spaces in universities. They often support the BLM movement, the Me Too Movement, and Affirmative Action.

People on the right end of the political spectrum have arguments against these ideas. For instance, they may claim that woke people are attempting to silence white voices. They also believe that cancel culture is being used to shut down ideas that don’t follow the leftist agenda.

People on the right also speak out against critical race theory which teaches students that there is a white oppressor. There are key differences between the two groups, meaning they may not even agree on what the term woke means.

‘Black Lives Matter Movement’

The “Black Lives Matter Movement” (BLM) was established in 2013 by African American activist DeRay McKesson. The movement revived wokeism in a manner that shocked modern society.

It did not take long for the Democratic party, Hollywood, NBA, NFL, and large corporations to get behind the movement. Professional athletes, government officials, Hollywood celebrities, and the wealthy elite called for change.

National Anthem Kneeling

The NFL went all out to support BLM by encouraging athletes to kneel during the National Anthem, “Star Spangled Banner.” It is customary for the National Anthem to be performed before every NFL game. To show their support for BLM, the professional footballers took a knee as soon as the National Anthem began. They remained in that position until the song came to end.

Fans, even long-time supporters of the NFL, fought back by burning their jerseys. Ticket sales were the lowest in years.

Veterans felt disrespected by the NFL and the players. This did nothing to discourage the NFL and to stop the kneeling.

Call To End Police Brutality

When wokeism was at its peak, minority groups took the opportunity to push back against police brutality. Riots were reported all across the United States. BLM called for peaceful riots but some turned violent. Business and government buildings were burnt to the ground. Police officers were shot execution-style and police cruisers were vandalised. The National Guard was called in to take control of the situation.

Public Sit-Ins

Supporters of BLM staged sit-ins at local restaurants, malls, and government entities. The sit-ins could last for a few minutes or hours, depending on how the protestors felt.


While there are many examples of being woke, the recent television series Velma can provide a perfect explanation of the ideologue. The show, which was based on the iconic Scooby-Doo franchise, was endlessly criticised by audiences for being too woke. For instance, the show replaced most of the original Caucasian cast with minority characters.

Daphne was portrayed as an East Asian American while Shaggy became an African American. As for Velma Dinkley, she is a South Asian American. It is common for shows and movies that race-swap characters to be described as woke. Furthermore, the show had heavy LGBT representation with Mindy Kaling’s character being bisexual.

The show has become one of the lowest-rated projects on the Internet Movie Database, with some saying it belongs in the top 10 worst shows of all time. It is also a good example of a show being too woke.

Anne Hathaway

Many celebrities fit the criteria to be called woke, with Anne Hathaway being one of the most notable. The Brooklyn brown actress has played in hit films such as The Princess Diaries, Ella Enchanted, and The Devil Wears Prada. She is also known for her political activism. The LGBT supporter regularly donates money to groups that support same-sex marriage.

She also became a UN Women Goodwill ambassador thanks to her persistent gender equality advocacy. More recently, Hathaway has spoken out against the discrimination of transgender youth, white supremacy, and the bullying of gay children. The actress was forced to apologise for being part of a scene that negatively portrayed a limb difference in The Witches.

Regardless, Anne Hathaway is easily one of the most woke celebrities.

Pepsi Commercial

Pepsi’s commercial featuring Kylie Jenner was criticised as being woke because it seemed to show that the company sided with BLM protestors. The commercial showed Kyle giving a Pepsi to a cop as if the protestors wanted to make peace with the police officers. Surprisingly, Pepsi was criticised by members of the left and right, with some saying the company had exploited the activism of black women.


Nearly every movie, TV series, commercial, and book produced today is filled with woke content. The push to end prejudice among minority groups is happening all around the world and the terms “wokeism” and “woke” are now commonly used, even in countries with strict authoritarian leaders, although this is to a lesser degree.

Author Profile

James Barron
My first experience of teaching was in 2016, when I was asked to
deliver a talk to a group of 16-year-olds on what it was like to start
your own business. I immediately knew I wanted to become more
involved in teaching but I didn’t know where to start as I had not
previously considered a career in education. A few weeks later I
agreed to teach a class of Chinese students from the Shanghai
Technical Institute of Electronics and Information, who had travelled
to the UK to learn English and Software Engineering, after that I was
hooked. Within the next few years, I taught hundreds of students of
many different nationalities, aged from 16 to 60, and from
levels 2 to 6. I focused my time teaching with Bath University and
Bath College for several more years until I felt a change was in order.
For the last few years, I have taught remotely with several private
training organisations, provided dedicated one to one coaching
sessions, provided consultancy on teaching and assessment practices
and written about my experiences as a teacher. I plan to continue
with my current activities for the foreseeable future but I’m always
open to new teaching experiences.

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