The Show on KJZZ

Listen live weekdays at 9 a.m.

How 'woke' morphed from a whisper in minority communities to a right-wing yell

By Lauren Gilger
Published: Monday, April 3, 2023 - 11:27am

Audio icon Download mp3 (11.47 MB)

The term woke has become something of a political hot rod in recent years.

Right-wing politicians use it to attack leftist policies — from teaching about race in schools to addressing the disproportionate use of force by police officers against people of color. 

But, the term didn’t start out as an attack. In fact, it’s been around in minority communities for some time, according to Kelly Wright.

Wright is an experimental sociolinguist and lexicographer at Virginia Tech who has written about the term before. The Show spoke with her about it and it’s history. 

Kelly Wright
University of Michigan
Kelly Wright

More stories from KJZZ

The Show Social Justice