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for the Nigerian politician, see Chukwuemeka Woke

Wokeness is a name for a left-wing and progressive attitude toward life and society. Originally an African American term,[1] it became popular in the 2010s to describe a form of fashionable virtue signalling practiced mostly by upper middle-class (and above) white people, and some Asians.[2] The concept was brought to prominence by intersectional marchers in the Black Lives Matter movement.[3]


A "woke" person is highly aware of the scope of permissible speech as defined by the Overton Window, according to the latest doctrines of political correctness. Woke people will demonstrate their compliance with these tenets in their daily lives, as if they are cheerfully acting of their own will. They will express allegiance to the current victimhood hierarchy,[4] with woke white men accepting personal culpability for the suffering of non-whites worldwide.[5] They may even express indifference over their own replacement.[6]

At the same time, wokeness is an expression of personal status over non-woke people. Wokeness is associated with student life at Western universities, young urban professionals, fictional heroes in television shows and movies of the 2010s, online communities like Reddit, and magazines like Esquire. Even "mainstream" or soft conservatives aspire to wokeness.[7]


According to right-wing opponents, wokeness is also the expression of what they call The Cathedral, the dominant culture of the Western world. As such, wokeness is claimed to be encouraged by the so-called Shadow Party, which is said to influence or control Western society.

The opposite of being woke is sometimes called being "based". This term was coined by rapper Lil B before being co-opted by alt-right and right-wing activists.[8] These activists also describe themselves as being Red Pilled.[9]


  1. Michael Harriot (Oct 12, 2017) https://www.theroot.com/the-6-degrees-of-wokeness-1819384614
  2. (retrieved Mar 27, 2019) https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/wokeness
  3. Alex Garofalo (May 26, 2016) http://www.ibtimes.com/what-does-stay-woke-mean-bet-air-documentary-black-lives-matter-movement-2374703
  4. Raven Cras (~2015/16) https://blavity.com/what-does-it-mean-to-be-woke
  5. (retrieved Mar 27, 2019) https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=wokeness
  6. https://spectator.us/wokeness-eats-virginia-democrats
  7. David Brooks (Jun 7, 2018) https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/07/opinion/wokeness-racism-progressivism-social-justice.html
  8. (retrieved Oct 4, 2019) https://www.dictionary.com/e/slang/based/
  9. (retrieved Oct 4, 2019) https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Red%20Pilled