Stay Humble. Stay Woke. 

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By now, you should be familiar with the infamous term “WOKE.”

It’s a trending hashtag on Twitter. And I’m sure you've seen it plastered all over a friend’s social media page in meme form or a current events article tagged #staywoke. 

According to Merriam-Webster, the literal definition is stated as, “the past tense verb for wake.” But because Urban Dictionary is much more familiar with Black vernacular (and let’s face it, they’re quite entertaining too), here’s one of our favorite translations:

"Getting woke is like being in the Matrix and taking the red pill. You get a sudden understanding of what's really going on and find out you were wrong about much of what you understood to be truth.” 

In 2008, Ms. Badu used it in her song “Master Teacher," but the term became a common word used in our everyday dialect when the Black Lives Matter movement surfaced after a series of unfortunate events: the death of Trayvon Martin in 2013, and many more killings of young, innocent black men by the hands of the law enforcement. 

Since its rise in popularity, the term is most often being used in many different contexts. What was once heavily used in the context of police brutality, systemic racism and mass incarceration, is now being associated with everything from 9/11 conspiracy theories to ways to beat the system.

The most notable trend is socially-conscious musicians like Kendrick Lamar, Beyonce, J.Cole, Solange, Childish Gambino and along with others using the “woke” term as inspiration to write lyrics that promote social awareness. Music is a universal language. No matter the cultural or linguistic boundaries, music sheds a light on the human experience of a particular culture.

As the corruption in our government continues to become more transparent, there will be without a doubt an increase of socially-conscious music being released by some of our favorite mainstream artists. Hopefully, this will go through the ears and into the minds of people -- motivating all of us to stay informed, stay inquisitive and in the words of Childish Gambino, "Stay Woke!"

CLICK HERE to check out the Spotify "Stay Woke" playlist for some gems.

James McDonaldComment